The crew of a jumbo jet watched in horror as the wheel of a Ryanair plane snapped and detached itself as the Boeing aircraft took off at 150mph.
The pilot of the stricken plane managed to touch down safely at East Midlands Airport with all 184 passengers and crew.
A report, published on Thursday by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, says as the plane took off from London Stansted for Copenhagen, crew on the ground from a different flight saw one of the nose wheels fly from the aircraft and off the runway.
They alerted air traffic control at Stansted who contacted the captain and crew onboard the flight.
The East Midlands Airport runway was closed for an hour while the stricken plane landed
All other flights at the airport were stopped and traffic held on the M1.
The emergency landing saw the runway at East Midlands closed for more than an hour with one inbound flight having to divert to a different airport.
The investigation found: “As the aircraft was lining up on the runway to take off, the flight crew heard a noise similar to a nosewheel passing over a runway centre light; they did not consider the noise to be unusual.
“During the takeoff roll, the flight crew in an aircraft holding near the start of the runway noticed one of the nosewheels depart and be blown off the runway.
“They informed air traffic control who informed the crew of the plane, which was now in the climb. A diversion was carried out to East Midlands Airport where an uneventful landing was made.
“The nosewheel was found to have separated from the aircraft because the nose landing gear axle had failed at the left inboard journal (the part of the axle that rests on bearings).
“This was the result of heat-induced cracking and material property changes due to abusive grinding of the chrome plate during the part’s last overhaul almost three years earlier.
“The Maintenance and Repair Organisation that performed the overhaul has introduced a new inspection for detecting abusive grinding.”
• This story originally appeared in our sister title, the Peterborough Telegraph