Monday 23 October 2017

A380 passengers 'just happy to be alive'

Passengers on a superjumbo forced to make an emergency landing during a flight from London to Sydney, today spoke of their fear as they saw flames pouring from one of the plane's engines.

Ulf Waschbusch saw debris pierce the wing of the Qantas A380 shortly after take off following a refuelling stop at Singapore.

None of the 433 passengers or 26 crew onboard were injured but Qantas grounded all of their A380 fleet after the incident.

Mr Waschbusch told ITV's Daybreak: "About five minutes after take off from Singapore I heard a loud boom noise on my left hand side so I immediately looked out of the window at that point.

"I saw pieces of the engine, number 3 engine, fly off the wing through the wings itself and short bursts of flames for about a second or two at that time.

"It was one of the scariest things I have ever seen on an aircraft."

He added: "It's a little bit like a Hollywood movie that you think you are watching but you are watching it outside of the window, rather than on the telly. It was a really scary sight."

He told Daybreak that passengers were shouting and crying with relief when the jet landed safely.

He explained: "There was immediately rapture, shouting and crying - it was an amazing sight.

"We didn't quite feel safe at the moment of touchdown because you've got rolling all the way till the end of the runway, we then parked at the end of the runway and we were still leaking fuel from the engine, so fire-fighters came and had to take care of the fuel leak.

"The (engine) one on the left hand side kept running and they weren't able to turn off that engine - so we were still half an hour or so when we were on the ground and still sceptical about what was going on and we just wanted to exit."

Lars Sandberg, a DJ from Glasgow, Scotland, who was on the plane said he was "just happy to be alive".

He told the BBC website: "Everything was going smoothly in the first 15 minutes and then there was a sharp bang. I thought some metal container fell down in the cargo area, but the carriage started to vibrate and there was a bit of smoke.

"I was sitting right next to engine two. People around me were visibly shaken and we all realised that whatever happened wasn't normal. There was a mother with two children who was quite worried."

He went on: "The landing was quite smooth, although the plane felt a bit heavy. When we landed there was fuel leaking from the plane, something ignited and blew the case of the engine.

"When we got off and saw the engine itself and the back casing burnt off, that was pretty scary. It was a nerve-wracking experience and I feel a little bit shaken up. I'm just happy to be alive and safe in the terminal building."

Matt Hewitt, from Cheshire, was also on board the flight.

He told the BBC: "Some people were disturbed by the noise and the feel of it.

"Some people reported a flash. Some people immediately checked the window. They were describing smoke trails running from the wing. Some people were in a position to see the actual breakage of the wing. There were parts sticking up and wires hanging out."

While he did not see any major damage to the engine while he was in the air, Mr Hewitt admitted he felt nervous.

"Yes, I certainly was. Everyone was. But the flight crew were very reassuring that we were going to be fine," he said.

"They were running all their checks before we could land. They were following procedures.

"Nobody panicked. Those people who were actually panicking, who were initially upset, they were soon comforted that everything was going to be all right."

Mr Hewitt, who studied engineering at university, said he was familiar with aeroplane design.

"I was confident in that I knew that as long as there was at least one, possibly two engines, we could still fly, as long as the wing was effectively still there.

"When I saw that that was peeling back, we were a bit frightened, but we were quite close to taking off at that point. We weren't too high in altitude, so we weren't too worried."

Mr Hewitt said the experience had not put him off flying on an Airbus in future.

"I wouldn't hold it against Airbus. I would certainly fly with Qantas again. I still have confidence in that airline."

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