United plane from SFO loses tire after taking off

A tire fell off of a United Airlines plane moments after it took off from SFO on Thursday.

United Flight 35 was redirected to Los Angeles International Airport and landed safely, the airline said. 

"The aircraft is designed to land safely with missing or damaged tires," United said in a statement to KTVU.

The 265 pound wheel and tire could be seen in a parking lot near San Francisco International Airport. Police cars were nearby. 

Damage to parked cars is believed to have been caused by the tire.


A car was damaged by a tire that feel from a United Airline plane that took off from SFO on March 7, 2024.

The plane, carrying 249 people, had been bound for Osaka, Japan.

The Boeing 777-200 aircraft has six tires on each of its two main landing gear struts, United said.

Footage of the wheel dropping from the plane was recorded in a YouTube video shared by Cali Planes.

Aviation lawyer Mary Schiavo, who is also a former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation, which oversees the Federal Aviation Administration and the airline industry, said this was, "a very significant event." Schiavo said it's rare and it comes with older planes. 

To get to Osaka, the plane was likely carrying a full load of fuel, about 48,000 gallons; enough to fill five semi-tanker trucks. Another problem on landing after the short flight to L.A., is there was still more than 40,000 gallons on board, making the plane very heavy for landing at somewhere between 160-185 miles an hour. 

Shiavo said there is redundancy with the way the planes are built. In this case, she said that was a good thing that there were redundancies, meaning there were other wheels to land on. 

Still, there is significant risk. "When you have a landing without all your gear, your wheels, there's always a concern if the others go or pop," Schiavo said. 

Now comes the investigation. "What they do have to do is fully inspect. They're gonna have to have inspectors out there. Once they do this and do the replacement, see what went wrong," said Schiavo. 

If there was an injury to people or damage to ground structures, this will be classified as an accident requiring a full NTSB investigation. If a car or a fence doesn't qualify, it will go down as an incident, requiring much less action.