An Air Canada plane heading to Toronto made an emergency landing in Madrid after an engine problem. CP photo

Toronto-bound Air Canada plane makes emergency landing at Madrid airport

A Toronto-bound Air Canada plane has made an emergency landing at Madrid’s international airport after pilots reported an engine problem and tire rupture shortly after takeoff.

The Boeing 767 carrying 128 passengers had been circling southeast of Adolfo Suarez-Barajas airport “to use up fuel and lighten the aircraft for landing,” the carrier said Monday morning.

The “engine issue” occurred shortly after take-off,” according to Air Canada. “A tire also reportedly ruptured on take-off, one of 10 on this model of aircraft.”

Ignacio Montesinos, a spokesman for Spain’s airport operator, said the pilot radioed the tower citing an “emergency.”

“Our pilots are fully trained for this eventuality,” Air Canada said in an email.“Nonetheless, an emergency was declared in order to obtain landing priority.”

Spain’s Defence Ministry said 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.

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 centre 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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