Panic, laugh­ter from pas­sen­gers as plane’s en­gine fails

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEWS -

AN SA Ex­press pas­sen­ger on a flight from East Lon­don to Jo­han­nes­burg has de­scribed how peo­ple cried‚ prayed – and even laughed – as the plane’s en­gine failed in mid-air.

Vuyo Zi­tu­mane boarded the plane at 6.30am‚ ex­pect­ing to be in Jo­han­nes­burg early enough for her meet­ing in Pre­to­ria.

But after board­ing the plane‚ it did not move. “We were de­layed for about one hour 40 min­utes. At the time I thought it is a power fail­ure be­cause the pi­lot kept on try­ing to start the en­gine and it would fail . . .

“There was a prob­lem with a cir­cuit breaker and the pi­lot did not want to take chances. An en­gi­neer had to come to fix the prob­lem‚ who then con­firmed that the prob­lem had been fixed. We took off. About five min­utes after take­off‚ there was a loud bang. Then the plane started to rat­tle‚ then there was a de­scent and there was just a funny si­lence.

“When a plane is fly­ing‚ you hear the sound of the en­gine‚ but it was not there‚” she said.

“The pi­lot con­tin­ued to fly and we kept on ask­ing ‘why are you mov­ing for­ward’‚ be­cause you can see that the plane has a prob­lem.

“We all be­came pi­lots‚ say­ing the plane must turn back to the air­port.

“We were so trau­ma­tised by this. It flew at a slow speed for a long time‚ but pro­ceed­ing in the same di­rec­tion. At some stage it had to turn‚ and then it went back to­wards the sea and after 20 min­utes we were fac­ing the run­way. Again all of a sud­den‚ it had to go back – now fly­ing deep to­wards the sea.

“The pi­lot then an­nounced that we had lost one en­gine‚” she said.

“. . . Ul­ti­mately they were able to land the plane.”

Zi­tu­mane de­scribed the flight as the worst she had ever had in her life.

“In the air‚ I ac­tu­ally imag­ined my own fu­neral. Lit­er­ally‚ peo­ple were cry­ing and pray­ing. Men were pray­ing in dif­fer­ent lan­guages‚ in­clud­ing Chi­nese tourists. Oth­ers were laugh­ing.

“I think it is how they re­acted to the sit­u­a­tion. We were all trau­ma­tised‚” she said.

An­other pas­sen­ger also shared the trau­matic mo­ments.

“I should have told my crush I love him‚” said jour­nal­ist Asanda Ma­gaqa‚ who hauled out her phone and started tweet­ing her panic.

SA Ex­press act­ing CEO Mat­si­ets Mokholo con­firmed that an en­gine had mal­func­tioned and that the plane re­turned to the air­port.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der­way – TimesLIVE

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