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Air Canada flight safely lands in Madrid with damaged engine

MADRID (AP) — An Air Canada Boeing 767 aircraft with 128 passengers on board made a safe emergency landing at Madrid Airport on Monday evening.

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

Guido Fioravantti, from New York, said his father was on the plane and that he had confirmed the safe landing.

"Landed safely, everything is ok!" Fioravantti told The Associated Press.

There was no immediate information on what had caused the malfunction

The plane spent close to four hours flying in circles near Madrid, burning off fuel before the emergency landing. Spain's Defense Ministry dispatched an F18 fighter jet to evaluate the damage done to the landing gear.

Emergency vehicles approached the aircraft on one of the tarmacs of the Adolfo Suárez-Barajas international airport soon after it landed at 7.13 p.m. (1813 GMT).

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, the airline said the plane “experienced an engine issue shortly after takeoff” from the same airport, 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.

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

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.

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