‘Panic in the skies’ as THY plane makes emer­gency land­ing

Cyprus Today - - FRONT PAGE - By KEREM HASAN Chief Re­porter

PAS­SEN­GERS screamed in ter­ror as a Turk­ish Air­lines flight with some 200 pas­sen­gers aboard de­vel­oped en­gine fail­ure sec­onds af­ter take-off from Er­can air­port.

Trav­ellers heard “bang­ing” and “screech­ing” from one of the en­gines as

İs­tan­bul-bound flight TK 965 de­clared a “may­day” be­fore cir­cling above Geçitkale and Güze­lyurt and then mak­ing an emer­gency land­ing in An­talya. Ahmet Kap­tan, head of air traf­fic con­trol at Er­can, said they had been alerted by the pi­lot im­me­di­ately af­ter the craft was air­borne at 2.30am on Thurs­day. Con­trollers in­structed him to cir­cle at 8,000ft above Geçitkale air­port, and the flight crew tested the faulty en­gine for about 25 min­utes.

“They then ad­vised us of a sec­ond­de­gree emer­gency and asked for per­mis­sion to fly to An­talya air­port. We gave them clear­ance to fly there at 14,000ft.”

Mr Kap­tan said there was no ev­i­dence of bird strike and com­mented: “Thank God this in­ci­dent did not end dif­fer­ently.”

Bri­tons Bernard and Chris­tine Dug­gan, both 62, re­turn­ing to Manch­ester af­ter hol­i­day­ing at their villa in Lapta, were among te pas­sen­gers.

Mr Dug­gan told this news­pa­per: “The air­craft ac­cel­er­ated for take-off with­out any prob­lems, but within sec­onds af­ter leav­ing the ground loud bang­ing noises were heard un­der the air­craft, fol­lowed by screech­ing noises and the air­craft was shud­der­ing.

“There was some panic and some pas­sen­gers were scream­ing. My wife Chris­tine com­forted a Ger­man lady sit­ting next to her af­ter she pan­icked.

“Ten min­utes later, we no­ticed that we were at low al­ti­tude and had not even crossed the Five Fin­ger Moun­tains. We could see [Le­fkoşa] be­low in the dis­tance and no­ticed we were fly­ing around in a cir­cle.

“Af­ter 10 min­utes the pi­lot said there was a ‘tech­ni­cal prob­lem’ in a right-hand en­gine, and ad­vised that we were to fly back to Er­can.

“We must have spent 40 or so min­utes fly­ing over . . . Cyprus and were then in­formed by the pi­lot that we were fly­ing to An­talya.”

He said panic in the cabin had eased as the plane gained height and crossed the moun­tains, and the land­ing in Turkey had been greeted with ap­plause.

De­spite miss­ing their Manch­ester flight, need­ing a £20 Turk­ish visa and an ex­tra flight from An­talya to İs­tan­bul, and a 17-hour jour­ney, Mr Dug­gan com­mended the Turk­ish Air­lines flight and cabin crew for “their ex­cel­lent han­dling of a night­mare sit­u­a­tion”.

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