A Flybe flight with 56 people on board has crash landed at Belfast International Airport after taking off without nose landing gear.

The Inverness-bound plane was forced to burn fuel in a holding pattern for two hours off the coast of Belfast after it declared an emergency.

Flybe has confirmed in a statement the Bombardier Q-400 aircraft landed with “no nose gear in place” just before 2pm today.

Fire crews were on standby at Belfast International Airport for the emergency landing.

Emergency services present later confirmed “no action” was required.

In a statement Flybe said: “The aircraft departed from Belfast City at 11.07 local time bound for Inverness. The incident occurred at Belfast International Airport at approximately 13.30 local time.

“There are 52 passengers on board and four crew members. Our primary concern is for the welfare of the passengers and crew. All statements relating to this incident will be posted immediately.”

Brian Strutton, BALPA general secretary, said: “Landing without a nose gear is a very difficult manoeuvre, but one pilots train extensively for.

“The pilots in this case appear to have done a sterling job of bringing the aircraft back under those circumstances.

“We expect the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) will commence its work to look into this incident immediately, and we will support them in whatever way we can.”