Last night's safe and successful emergency landing of an Estonian Air plane was classified by responders as a level 4 situation, the highest degree, rescue and airport officials said. A safety expert said little increased danger was posed to passengers.
The CRJ originally bound from Tallinn to Amsterdam, carrying 86 people, had suffered damage to one of its tires during takeoff at 18:10. After airport crews scoured the runway and found tire debris, the pilots were alerted.
After burning off most of its fuel, the plane touched down with incident in Tallinn at around 20:30.
"The pilot went out of the cockpit to talk to people and there was no panic," said Indrek Randveer, a board member with the airline.
The landing received unprecedented live coverage from local media, and hundreds of rubberneckers gathered at the airport to watch the plane attempt the landing.
An Economic Affairs Ministry safety expert, Jens Haug, said the type of incident was commonplace and risk to passengers safety was low. "Damage to one tire or tread is maybe not in proportion with the reaction that just happened," he said on ETV.
It was an extraordinary incident, Randveer said, but just three weeks ago, a takeoff of an Estonian airplane in Amsterdam was aborted for a similar reason. It was a coincidence, he said, but the airline will be carrying out inspections in the days to come.