A United Airlines plane makes a safe emergency landing in Los Angeles after losing a tire during takeoff

Missing United Airlines flight

In this image taken from video, a United Airlines Boeing 777 bound for Japan loses a tire while taking off from San Francisco International Airport on Thursday. The plane made a safe emergency landing in Los Angeles. Cali planes via AP

SAN FRANCISCO — A United Airlines plane bound for Japan landed safely in Los Angeles on Thursday after losing a tire while taking off from San Francisco.

The video shows the plane losing one of the six tires on the main landing gear assembly on the left side seconds after takeoff. The tire fell in the employee parking lot at San Francisco International Airport, where it struck a car and smashed its rear window before breaking through a fence and stopping in a nearby parking lot.

No one was injured, airport spokesman Doug Yakel said in a statement.

Fire trucks stood by at Los Angeles International Airport but were not needed, as the Boeing 777 made an uneventful landing and stopped about two-thirds of the way down the runway.

Airport spokesman Dai Levine said the plane landed safely. Then she was pulled away.

United said the flight was carrying 235 passengers and a crew of 14. The airline said the plane, built in 2002, was designed to land safely with missing or damaged tires. United said the passengers were transferred to another plane for the rest of the flight.

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Boeing 777s have six tires on each of the two main landing gear. A video of Flight 35 departing shows the plane losing one of six tires on the left-side main landing gear assembly seconds after takeoff.

Aviation experts said missing aircraft tires are rare and do not indicate a larger safety issue.

“In aviation, we never want to have single points of failure if they can be avoided, and this is an example of that,” said Alan Price, former chief pilot at Delta Air Lines.

He added: “The remaining tires are fully capable of bearing the load.”

Loose tires are usually a maintenance issue, not a problem created by the manufacturer, Price said.

John Cox, a retired pilot and professor of aviation safety at the University of Southern California, agrees.

“I don't see any impact for Boeing, since it was United's maintenance team that changed the tire,” he said.

Spokesman Tony Molinaro said the FAA would investigate the matter.

Associated Press writer David Koenig contributed to this report.


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