Missing airplane tire found in north Vietnam airport

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 An ATR-72 airplane of the national carrier Vietnam Airlines with a missing front tire and a broken tire axle grounded at Da Nang Airport / PHOTO COURTESY OF VNEXPRESS

A Vietnam Airlines airplane's front tire which went missing without the crew's notice until it finished a flight early this week was found, four days later, at the Hai Phong airport that it had departed from.  

Lai Xuan Thanh, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, announced  Friday that a search team found the tire in a grass field which is some 1.15 kilometers to the left of a runway from where the ATR-72 airplane took off for the central city of Da Nang on Monday.

Search teams had been looking for the lost tire around Da Nang Airport and Hai Phong's Cat Bi Airport after the loss was discovered by Da Nang Airport's technical staff.

Together with the airplane's broken tire axle, the tire will be sent to France's Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety, which is collaborating with manufacturer Airbus to clarify the incident's cause, according to local aviation authorities.

The Tuoi Tre (youth) newspaper quoted Le Huy Truong, spokesman of Cat Bi Airport, as saying that given the tire's location, it possibly fell off when the airplane was taking off. 

Previously, in their reports to authorities, the crew, including two pilots, said they did not find anything abnormal during preflight checks and during the flight. The take-off and the landing were also reported to be smooth.

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The airplane arrived at its destination safely with 41 passengers who were not aware of the incident.

The troubled airplane is four years old and underwent its latest maintenance on September 21.

Following the incident, Vietnam's aviation authorities ordered inspections of all 14 ATR-72 airplanes of Vietnam Airlines, and technicians found nothing wrong with their front tires.

Although the incident did not cause any major consequences, it "seriously" threatened flight safety, Ho Minh Tan, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam's Flight Safety Standard Agency, said in an interview with the VnExpress online newspaper.

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