A modified Boeing 747 used to transport the manufacturer’s 787 aerostructures appears to have lost a wheel during take-off.
The 747-400LCF Dreamlifter, N718BA (c/n 27042), was departing from Taranto/Grottaglie Airport in Italy yesterday (October 11) when the incident occurred.
A video circulating on social media appears to show smoke emanating from the main landing gear assembly shortly after lift-off from runway 35, before a wheel then falls from the aircraft.
The widebody – which was being operated by cargo airline Atlas Air on behalf of the airframer – was conducting flight 5Y4231 linking the Italian airport to the Dreamliner production facility at Charleston in South Carolina.
The crew continued the departure and flight across the Atlantic and landed safely at the US airport around 11 hours later.
Powered by four Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines, Bravo Alpha has been ferrying aerostructures for Boeing since its conversion from a standard -400 variant in February 2010.
Previously operated by Malaysia Airlines from 1992 until 2007, the 30-year-old quadjet has been flown by Atlas Air since August 2010.
Boeing holds a fleet of four Dreamlifters which it uses to transport 787 parts between production facilities in the US, Italy, and Japan.
The type is heavily modified with its most notable feature being a sideways hinged rear cargo door, which when opened, sees the whole tail section of the aircraft swing 90 degrees to the left.