A wheel fell off a Boeing Company cargo jet and fell to the ground shortly after the plane took off from Taranto, southern Italy, on Tuesday morning.
A video posted on Twitter shows a sudden plume of black smoke coming out of the undercarriage of a 747-400 Dreamlifter and a wheel like a giant bowling ball flying and bouncing off the runway.
The aircraft, operated by Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc., continued its journey and landed safely at a Boeing production facility in Charleston, South Carolina, approximately 11 hours later.
Un Boeing 747 Dreamlifter operat de Atlas Air (N718BA) care a decolat marți dimineață (11OCT22) din Taranto (IT) spre Charleston (SUA) a pierdut o roată a trenului principal de aterizare în timpul decolării.
— BoardingPass (@BoardingPassRO) October 11, 2022
The takeoff footage made it the most tracked flight in the world, with more than 10,000 users following the trip, according to data from Flightradar24.
One of the MLG wheels of a Boeing Dreamlifter—a modified 747 used to transport components for the 787—fell off shortly after take off this morning in Taranto, Italy. The flight is en route to Boeing’s production facility in Charleston. Live tracking: https://t.co/QpORCsXV4l https://t.co/MZE4hKXf4n
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) October 11, 2022
The reason for the incident is not apparent yet. A Boeing spokesman said the company would support Atlas Air’s investigation. Atlas Air was not immediately available to respond to a request for comment.
The Dreamlifter is a modified version of the 747-400 and is used primarily to transport Boeing 787 parts for the Arlington, Virginia-headquartered aircraft manufacturer.
While slightly smaller than the Airbus 380, the largest passenger jet in operation, it is still one of the largest specialist cargo aircraft in the world.