A small plane was circling Newcastle airport in New South Wales on Monday morning amid reports its landing gear had failed.

Authorities braced for an emergency as a small regional turboprop airliner registered on a flight path from Newcastle to Port Macquarie was circling in a holding pattern repeatedly.

The Beechcraft B200 Super King Air small turboprop plane, which is normally configured to seat about 13 passengers, flies private charter routes out of Eastern Air Services’ base in Port Macquarie.

It departed Newcastle airport at about 8.30am on Monday but did not appear to fly towards Port Macquarie, immediately entering a circling holding pattern before emergency services were alerted at about 9.30am. It was still circling at midday.

A NSW police spokesperson said authorities were responding to reports of a plane with its landing gears in a non-operational state. They said it was now running low on fuel.

“About 9.30am today (Monday 13 May 2024), emergency services were called to Newcastle Airport following reports of an aircraft with mechanical issues,” NSW police said in a statement.

“Officers attached Port Stephens Hunter Police District are on scene. No further details are known at this stage.”

Ambulance also responded to the incident.

It was unclear how many people were onboard. Eastern Air Services had not responded to requests for comment.

Doug Drury, professor of aviation at Central Queensland University, said the pilot of the plane would probably be in constant contact with maintenance teams troubleshooting solutions.

“My guess would be it’s not so much burning off fuel as it is trying to figure out what the problem is and if there is anything they can do to fix it prior to having put it on the ground,” Drury said as the plane was circling.

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“If you’re landing without your landing gear you’re going to do quite a bit of damage to the engines as well as the belly of the aircraft. I would imagine they would also attempt to do a grass landing if possible, but with all the rain we’ve experienced lately that might make it difficult.”

However, Drury said if there were fire crews on the ground waiting “I’d imagine they could also put in on a runway”.

“They would be in contact with a maintenance team to go through as many trials as they can, like pull this circuit breaker, pull this switch, try this, try that,” he said.

More to come

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