By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
The crew of a 767 out of Newark made a successful gear-up emergency landing in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday, with sparks flying as the airplane skidded to a halt on the runway. The crew circled the airport for more than an hour, then landed with minimal fuel on a foamed runway, fire trucks standing by. Crews hosed down the fuselage with fire-retardant foam as a precaution, and the passengers were quickly evacuated via the emergency slides. The flight, with 220 passengers and 11 crew on board, was operated by LOT Polish Airlines. The airline said the jet's hydraulic system failed and the backup system worked only for the flaps, not the gear. Bronislaw Komorowski, the president of Poland, said he plans to award "state decorations" to the airplane crew. "To all those involved, I say thank you with all my heart," he told a news conference.
During the landing, the passengers stayed calm and there was no panic, according to the airline. "The cabin crew prepared them for the emergency landing well," Marcin Pirog, president of the airline, told reporters. The crew, Captain Tadeusz Wrona and First Officer Jerzy Szwartz, executed a "perfect emergency landing," Pirog said. It was the first time a LOT crew had to make such a landing, Pirog added. Wrona reportedly has over 20 years of experience and a glider rating. It's not clear if there was a mechanical backup or other method for lowering the gear that also failed.