Sofia International Airport (Vrazhdebna), Sofia, Bulgaria
Thomas Cook Airlines
Type of flight:
The left nose wheel detached from the aircraft during the takeoff from London (Gatwick) Airport. Airport staff saw the wheel fall off and the flight crew were notified by Air Traffic Control (ATC). After holding for two hours, to burn off fuel and reduce the landing weight, the aircraft landed safely at Gatwick. The nose wheel detached as the result of the partial seizure of the outer wheel bearing, most probably caused by water contamination of the grease in the bearing. Four safety recommendations have been made.