Serious structural failure in the main landing-gear of an El Al Boeing 777-200 has been discovered after the aircraft made an emergency landing at Tel Aviv.
The aircraft departed for Newark on 23 May, with 279 passengers, but returned to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport after the left main gear failed to retract.
The 777 was escorted by an Israeli air force fighter which checked the condition of the undercarriage before the twinjet landed.
Israel's ministry of transport said the 777 had undergone landing-gear maintenance in Singapore and engineers from the centre involved will participate in the inquiry. Two specialists from Boeing also arrived in Israel on 25 May to take part in the investigation.
Accident investigators have started removing the main gear from the 777 for close inspection. An image of the 777 obtained by Flightglobal appears to show the structural failure affected the pivot around which the entire gear rotates upon retraction.
The ministry of transport's air accident chief described the failure as "serious" and added that it seemed to be the first such case for this aircraft type.
"At this stage it is too early to determine the failure process, let alone the reason," said the ministry, adding that the landing-gear will be subjected to metallurgical tests and other examinations, abroad if necessary.
"Only after the reason for the structural failure is found will it be possible to form, along with Boeing and aviation authorities, technical instructions for 777 operators around the world," it said.