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Air Canada flight with damaged engine makes emergency landing in Madrid

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Image: An Air Canada aircraft makes an emergency landing at Madrid's Baraja
An Air Canada aircraft makes an emergency landing at Madrid's Barajas Airport on Feb. 3, 2020.   -   Copyright  Susana Vera
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MADRID — An Air Canada Boeing 767 aircraft with 128 passengers on board has made a safe emergency landing at Madrid Airport.

The Toronto-bound flight AC837 had departed from the Spanish capital in the early afternoon on Monday but had to request an emergency return after one of its two engines was damaged and a tire ruptured during take off.

Spain's Defense Ministry had said earlier that an F18 fighter jet had been dispatched from a military airport near the Spanish capital to evaluate the damage done to the landing gear of Toronto-bound flight AC837.

The aircraft had departed from the Adolfo Suárez-Barajas international airport earlier in the day and was scheduled to land in Toronto at 3:40 p.m. local time.

An Air Canada aircraft makes an emergency landing at Madrid\'s Barajas Airport on Feb. 3, 2020.
An Air Canada aircraft makes an emergency landing at Madrid\'s Barajas Airport on Feb. 3, 2020.Susana Vera

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, the airline said the plane "experienced an engine issue shortly after take-off" as well as a ruptured tire — one of 10 on the Boeing 767-300. It added that the aircraft "is designed to operate on one engine and our pilots are fully trained for this eventuality."

"Nonetheless, an emergency was declared in order to obtain landing priority," Air Canada said.

A spokeswoman with Spain's airport operator, AENA, told the AP that the airline had requested a slot for an emergency landing some 30 minutes after takeoff.

A spokesman for Enaire, Spain's air navigation authority, said the plane's landing gear did not fold up properly on taking off and that a piece of it may have damaged part of one of the engines. He said the pilot estimates that the plane should be able to attempt the emergency landing around 7:30 p.m. local time (1830 GMT).

The officials were not authorized to be named in media reports.

Emergency services including firefighting trucks and ambulances have been deployed at the Spanish capital's airport.

Spain's El Mundo newspaper's website published audio it said featured the plane's pilot explaining to the passengers the need to return to Madrid because a wheel had been damaged during the takeoff.

"Because we are a bit too heavy we have to get rid of fuel before being able to land," the voice can be heard saying in Spanish.

Madrid residents posted videos online showing a plane flying unusually low over the Spanish capital's center and suburbs.

It was the second incident of the day at Madrid's international airport, the busiest in the country. Earlier on Monday, the airport closed for over an hour due to the reported sighting of drones in the vicinity.