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Pilot hailed for response to stormy conditions

A Lufthansa jet was caught by gusting wind as it tried to land during a weekend storm, causing the tip of the aircraft's wing to graze the runway before the pilot got the plane back off the ground, the airline said Monday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Lufthansa jet was caught by gusting wind as it tried to land during a storm, causing the tip of the aircraft's wing to graze the runway before the pilot got the plane back off the ground, the airline said Monday.

The airplane landed safely on its second attempt.

The incident happened Saturday afternoon as the Airbus A320, with 131 passengers on board, approached Hamburg airport on a flight from Munich.

Airline spokesman Wolfgang Weber said the plane was rocked by wind clocked at 250 kph (155 mph) as it tried to land.

The left wing grazed the runway for a moment, but Weber said the pilot was able to stabilize the aircraft and take off again in what he called an "absolutely professional maneuver."

"It was a dicey situation," Weber said. "People were quite shaken."

Passenger Hansi Kuepper said on n-tv television that there was silence on board for several minutes after the incident. "It is hard to describe — it went very quickly," Kuepper said.

The plane returned to service Sunday after repairs, Weber said.

Germany's Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation said it was looking into the incident. An expert with the office, Lothar Mueller, said it was examining why the runway was being used during the gusting winds.

Axel Raab, a spokesman for Deutsche Flugsicherung, which runs German air traffic control operations, said he believed neither the tower nor the pilot had done anything wrong. He praised the pilot for "a very professional maneuver."

"I don't want to anticipate the results of the investigation, but at first sight no one has anything to answer for," he said.

Raab said it was an "unfortunate circumstance" that the plane was caught by such a strong gust of wind.