A huge passenger jet was left circling high over Wigan after a mid-flight emergency.
The Boeing 757 airliner had just taken off from Manchester Airport ahead of a four-hour flight to Lanzarote when the crew of the Jet2 flight were alerted to an undisclosed technical problem.
Air traffic control at Manchester decided to put the 29-year-old plane - with more than 200 holiday-makers on board - into a holding pattern.
After levelling into an air corridor at 8,000ft, it maintained a wide arc over thousands of unsuspecting borough residents’ homes.
Although the situation was continually reviewed by the airport “tower,” the stand-by lasted 40 minutes, witnessed by many curious Wigan householders far below.
This allowed the potential seriousness of the malfunction alert to be analysed in conjunction with specialist Boeing aircraft engineers at the company’s American base in Seattle.
And also for Manchester Airport management to prepare a full safety case landing reception for the jet in conjunction with the airport’s own fire service. should it be decided it was needed.
However it eventually made a safe landing without incident at Manchester.
The passengers were later boarded onto a replacement Jet2 aircraft and completed their journey to the Canaries.
This particular aircraft is believed to have been involved in two emergency landings on other occasions over the past month.
These two incidents were triggered when the aircraft’s crew allegedly encountered difficulty in retracting its landing gear after take off.
Jet2, which was formed 13 years ago, operates more than 60 aircraft over 220-plus routes.
A spokesman for the company, which is based in Leeds-Bradford Airport, insisted that the eventual landing back at Manchester Airport was not classed as an “emergency landing.”
He said: “Our Jet2.com flight from Manchester to Lanzarote was diverted back to base as a precautionary measure after a fault indication.
“The aircraft landed safely without incident and passengers were transferred onto a replacement aircraft.”