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Air Berlin passengers ordered to don life vests

June 28, 2017

A flight from Düsseldorf to Venice encountered problems on approach, forcing passengers to don life vests. The plane was experiencing problems with its landing gear.

Bombardier DHC-8-400 of Air Berlin
Image: picture-alliance/W. Mendorf

As flight AB-8766 from Düsseldorf to Venice approached Marco Polo Airport, a landing gear error was reported in the cockpit, the German news weekly Focus reported on Tuesday. The plane's two pilots aborted the planned landing and ordered their 34 passengers to put on life jackets and to sit close to the exits, 

The airport sits on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, meaning that failed landings could result in watery endings.

Read more: German business jet 'flipped three times by Emirates A380'

"For the passengers it is certainly a higher-adrenaline situation if they have to put on their life jackets," a spokesman for Air Berlin told the North Rhine-Westphalia news portal Der Westen.

"It was because the Venice airport is surrounded by water," he said. "That precaution would not be needed for a landing in Dusseldorf or Berlin."

The plane reportedly circled the airport for about 40 minutes as pilots attempted to solve the landing gear problem.

The airport's air traffic control tower visually inspected the landing gear on the Bombardier Dash 8 while it was circling and determined that the equipment was in working order.

"There was no time on board for panic or unrest," the Air Berlin spokesman told Der Westen, adding that the airline would rather take precautions even if it meant making the passengers nervous.

Read more: Passenger plane lands safely in Sydney after losing propeller

The Aviation Herald, which reports on flight incidents around the world, first covered the incident.

"The aircraft climbed to 3,000, later 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) and entered a hold for about 40 minutes while the crew was working the checklists and attempting to resolve the issue," the aviation site reported.

The site also reported that the cabin crew performed a safety briefing preparing the cabin for a possible emergency landing.

The aircraft reportedly remained grounded for about 14 hours before it returned to Düsseldorf and was still out of service 24 hours after the incident.