A technical fault that forced a plane full of holidaymakers to do a U-turn back to Manchester Airport caused a scare in Wigan – after swooping so low over the ground that people thought it was going to crash.
Onlookers have spoken of how shocked they were to see the enormous plane circling with its landing gear down so low over the town.
One eye-witness told Wigan Today:
"I couldn't believe how low it was. It was just circling so at first I thought something could be wrong."
Locals took to Twitter
, reporting seeing a "VERY low-flying plane", and some said they thought the circling plane had "gone down" over the Beech Hill area.
The First Choice flight was heading to Fuerteventura
from Manchester when it developed a problem.
According to the Aviation Herald, the flight reported problems with the cabin pressure and decided to return to Manchester, landing safely about 140 minutes after departure.
A spokesperson for Thomson Airways, which owns First Choice, confirmed that a technical fault on flight TOM2662 meant the plane had returned to Manchester as a "precautionary measure."
"As soon as engineers became aware that the technical fault could not be rectified quickly, an alternative aircraft was sourced.
"Thomson Airways would like to reassure customers that their safety and wellbeing is the airline's number one priority at all times and that technical faults and delays of this nature are extremely rare."
A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority told AOL Travel that "technical faults" on aircraft were nearly always extremely minor. "They could be anything from an oven or toilet not working on a longhaul flight to a warning light flashing on the control panel," he said.
"If a computer on board shows a problem, the crew needs to investigate what that is. It's not always a safety decision, it might be an operational decision.
"In the vast majority of incidents like these, passengers are never in any danger."
He went on to say that modern aircraft warning systems are much better now than historically. "It may be that there are more alerts now because more things are being monitored - but that can only be a good thing," he said.
Violent passenger forces holiday jet to do a U-turn
Video: scariest plane landings
Did you see the plane? Have you experienced a "technical fault" on a flight? Tell us below.
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False! 'It’s surprising how many people still believe in the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, but the truth is, planes fly over this area every single day, as it's a major flight route from Florida to Bermuda and the Bahamas,' says Aaron Ritoper from <a href="http://www.fly.com/" target="_blank">Fly.com</a> Boats sail, planes fly and people swim in the Triangle. The legend started decades ago when a researcher outlined an area he was studying where vessels and aircraft had gone missing. It was given the moniker 'The Bermuda Triangle' and the legend became an overnight sensation. But many disappearances have now been explained in purely logical terms.</p>
- True or false? If the plane crashes, you are doomed
False! The idea of a plane crash is enough to perturb even the most seasoned traveller, but contrary to popular belief, when the US Government’s National Transportation Safety Board studied accidents over 20 years they recorded a survival rate of over 95 per cent. What’s more, the chances of dying on your next flight are calculated to be one in 60 million, making air travel hundreds of times safer than travelling by car. In fact, on this basis you could fly every day for the next 160,000 years without a problem.</p>
- True or false? Food tastes blander mid-flight
True! Recent research from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics has shown that altitude can dull human taste buds by up to 30 per cent, meaning that it might not be your in-flight meal that’s rubbish, but your own taste receptors. The length of a flight can also have an impact on your taste buds, as the longer a flight, the more dehydrated you become and therefore the more dulled your palate. If you can, choose something with tomato, lemongrass or curry, and the flavours should hold up! </p>
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- True or false? Electronic devices interfere with a plane's navigational system
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- True or false? X-ray machines at airports won't harm your gadgets
True! Despite what many people think, airport security X-ray machines cannot harm your gadgets – computers, cameras, MP3 players and phones are all perfectly safe because the x-ray procedure does not use magnetic charges. However, budding photographers would be wise not to carry old fashioned film with them on planes, as the machines can damage undeveloped photos.</p>
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- True or false? The recycled air in an aeroplane cabin quickly spreads germs and sickness
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- True or false? You can't open the door on a commercial jet mid-flight
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