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S7 Jet Loses Wheel in Flight

An S7 airline jet arrived Wednesday in Novokuznetsk on a flight from Moscow with a wheel — and the landing was so smooth that no one, including the pilots, realized the loss.

The Airbus A319 carrying 112 people apparently lost the wheel during takeoff from Domodedovo Airport or as it came into land at Novokuznetsk, a mining city of 550,000 in the Kemerovo region, news reports said.

Only after the plane landed did the pilots notice that one of the two wheels in the nose landing gear was missing.

"It's most likely that the wheel was lost during takeoff, before the pilots had retracted the landing gear, or upon landing," an unidentified Novokuznetsk airport official told the local newspaper Gazeta Kemerovo. "In any case, this was a freak accident."

The aircraft was supposed to return to Moscow later Wednesday but was instead sent for maintenance, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported. Local transportation prosecutors have opened an investigation.

Passengers who had bought tickets on the Moscow-bound return flight were placed on another previously scheduled S7 flight for the capital.

Another S7 plane made an emergency landing in Novokuznetsk on Oct. 11 after pilots had trouble lowering the landing gear. The pilots finally extended the gear manually, and the plane with 115 people onboard landed safely 50 minutes late on their flight from Moscow, Gazeta Novokuznetska reported at the time.

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