Air Canada flight safely lands in Madrid with damaged engine

An Air Canada airliner with 128 passengers on board has made a safe emergency landing at Madrid Airport.

Toronto-bound flight AC837 had departed from the Spanish capital in the early afternoon but had to request an emergency return after one of its two engines was damaged and a tyre ruptured during take-off.

There was no immediate information on what caused the malfunction.

The Boeing 767 spent close to four hours flying in circles near Madrid, burning off fuel before the emergency landing, and Spain's Defence Ministry dispatched an F18 fighter jet to evaluate the damage done to the landing gear.

An Air Canada Boeing 767 aircraft is surrounded by safety vehicles
An Air Canada Boeing 767 aircraft is surrounded by safety vehicles (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Emergency vehicles approached the aircraft on one of the runways of Adolfo Suarez-Barajas international airport soon after it landed.

In a statement emailed to the Associated Press, the airline said the plane "experienced an engine issue shortly after take-off", as well as a ruptured tyre — one of 10 on the Boeing 767-300.

It added that the aircraft "is designed to operate on one engine and our pilots are fully trained for this eventuality".

"Nonetheless, an emergency was declared in order to obtain landing priority," Air Canada said.

A spokeswoman with Spain's airport operator, AENA, told the AP that the airline had requested a slot for an emergency landing 30 minutes after take-off.

A spokesman for Enaire, Spain's air navigation authority, said the plane's landing gear did not fold up properly on taking off and that a piece of it may have damaged part of one of the engines.

Spain's El Mundo newspaper's website published audio it said featured the plane's pilot explaining to the passengers the need to return to Madrid because a wheel had been damaged during take-off.

"Because we are a bit too heavy we have to get rid of fuel before being able to land," the voice can be heard saying in Spanish.

Madrid residents posted videos online showing a plane flying unusually low over the capital's centre and suburbs.

It was the second incident of the day at the airport, the busiest in the country. Earlier on Monday, the airport closed for over an hour due to the reported sighting of drones in the vicinity.