Alarm prevents El Al plane crash in London

An El Al passenger plane came close to disaster on a runway at London’s Heathrow Airport last month after pilots forgot to lower the plane’s wheels moments before landing, it was revealed this week.

The Boeing 737 was 250 metres above the runway when an alarm went off in the cockpit warning that the landing gears had not been lowered.

The pilots reacted by pulling the aircraft up into a steep ascent before completing a circuit around the airport and making a normal landing.

In a statement, the airline said: “El Al has reported the incident and is co-operating with the chief investigation officer of the Israeli Transportation Ministry.”

The Civil Aviation Authority, the body responsible for ensuring aviation safety in the UK, said it could not provide a detailed response as the incident involved a foreign airline and was a matter for Israeli regulators. However, a spokesperson said such occurrences were not uncommon.

A spokesman for the British Airline Pilots Association said: “It is for the Israeli authorities to look into the incident and make any recommendations they feel necessary.

"Without having more information from the accident report, it is impossible to say how serious the incident was.”

According to Haaretz, following the incident a pilot was ordered to complete a compulsory safety course and undergo additional tests on an El Al training simulator.

El Al has always had a strong reputation for safety and security. Many of its pilots are former members of the Israeli Air Force and are consistently ranked as among the best trained in the world.

Since the national airline was founded in 1948, there has not been an accident involving one of its passenger planes. Only two cargo planes have crashed in the carrier’s history — once in Zurich in 1951 and another in Amsterdam in 1992.

Last updated: 1:26pm, April 24 2014