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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 August 2005, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Landing scare on UK Helios flight
A Helios Boeing 737
Fire crews were on hand when Flight 408 eventually landed
A Helios flight from Cyprus to Birmingham Airport had problems landing because of technical problems on the eve of the Helios crash in Athens.

The flight from Larnaca circled and delayed landing before being escorted into the airport by fire crews.

The pilot had reported a problem with landing flaps.

A Helios spokesman said the aircraft landed safely on Saturday, passengers were not at risk and the problem was "nothing out of the ordinary".

On Sunday 121 passengers and crew on the Helios flight bound for Prague died when it hit a hill in Greece after an apparent drop in cabin pressure is believed to have knocked out both pilots.

It was scary - everyone was feeling the same but they didn't want to say anything
Deborah Lake

Deborah Lake, of Birmingham, who was on Saturday night's flight into Birmingham Airport, said: "We were about to land when we realised there were technical difficulties with the landing flaps that normally fly the plane down.

"The pilot said we would have to circle for 10 to 15 minutes but it was longer than that - more like half an hour."

Mrs Lake, 42, was flying with a 28-strong party from the Hi Bri School of Dance, including her three children and 14 other youngsters, which had been performing in the resort of Protaras.

"It was scary," she said.

"Everyone was feeling the same but they didn't want to say anything.

"As adults, we had responsibility for the children so all sorts of things were going through my head."

'Very lucky'

The emergency services waited on standby until the plane eventually landed safely.

Members of Hi Bri School of Dance
Members of Hi Bri School of Dance were among those on the flight

When she found out about Sunday's plane crash in Athens, Mrs Lake said she felt "very lucky".

A spokeswoman for Birmingham Airport confirmed the pilot had reported a problem with the landing flaps on Flight 408 but said the plane had landed after a "routine precaution procedure".

"The plane circled to test the landing flaps," she said.

"It was what we call a local standby.

"The captain contacts air traffic control and they will let the fire service know and the fire service will go out and escort them back.

"It landed okay but it's a bit disconcerting for passengers."

This is not something that's out of the ordinary - it was a simple maintenance job
Helios Airways

A spokesman for Helios said the aircraft was "not endangered in any way".

"One of the flaps needed adjusting, or tuning," he said.

"This is not something that's out of the ordinary - it was a simple maintenance job.

"It landed okay, the plane was checked and it set off again okay the next day."

Q&A: Greek air crash
15 Aug 05 |  Europe

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