Plane touches down safely without landing gear after circling Australian airport for three hours to burn off fuel

A light plane has landed safely without landing gear after circling an Australian airport for almost three hours to burn off fuel.

The pilot and two passengers walked away from the scene and did not need hospital treatment after the "textbook wheels-up landing".

The plane had just taken off from Newcastle Airport, near Sydney, for a 112-mile flight north to Port Macquarie when the pilot raised the alarm about "issues with the landing gear," police superintendent Wayne Humphrey said.

Peter Schott, 53, who first piloted a plane when he was aged 15, was praised by the passengers as "wonderful" for the way he managed the situation.

"Everything was thrown at us - bad weather, the showers came through, there were about 20 pelicans downwind, you know, bird hazards," Mr Schott told Nine News television.

"I never had any doubt in the outcome of the flight."

A 60-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman were on the twin-turboprop Beechcraft Super King Air plane with Mr Schott during the incident.

Passenger Michael Reynolds told Nine News: "Pete the pilot, he did a wonderful job.

"He was awesome, 100 per cent calm all the time."

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The aircraft landed on the runway around three hours after its departure at 12.20pm local time without incident.

The plane is owned by Port Macquarie-based Eastern Air Services, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Aviation safety expert Ron Bartsch said the pilot would have decided to return to Newcastle because the airport has better emergency response resources than are available at Port Macquarie, in New South Wales.

He said: "The pilot has done quite a copy book landing and got everybody on the ground safely, and that's the most important outcome.

"The situation could've been a lot worse.

"They have to shut off the fuel, shut off the electrics to reduce the chance of a fire upon doing a belly-up landing.

"But obviously the pilot has done this textbook-style."

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will investigate the incident.