A passenger has shared details of the nailbiting moment his Qantas flight was forced to fly with just one engine for the final hour of its journey to Sydney.
Firefighters and paramedics rushed to Sydney airport after an emergency alert was issued by flight QF144, which had 145 passengers on board, about 2.10pm near the end of its flight from Auckland.
The alert was later downgraded to a PAN – possible assistance needed – and was able to land safely.
Nigel Morris was on board the flight, and said there was a “major jolt” in the middle of the flight, which he believes was caused by the engine failing.
“I didn’t hear a bang but there was a major jolt and the plane banked mid flight,” he told the Today show on Thursday.
“I think everyone was immediately aware there was something happening.”
Early reports suggested that passengers were unaware of the severity of the situation as thousands of people across Australia anxiously waited for news.
About 150,000 people tuned in to flight tracking site Flight Radar to watch the flight on the final leg of it’s journey.
Meanwhile passengers on board the flight watched their in-flight televisions as the planes altitude dropped from 36,000 feet to 20,000 feet in 40 minutes.
“It was evident there was something wrong but none of us were sure what it was,” Mr Morris said.
He said there was no word from the pilot until the landing announcement was made ten minutes before they reached Sydney airport.
“The pilot said, ‘We had an issue mid flight. We lost some functions with one of the engines and we’re going to land on the field so that emergency services can take a look at the engine,’ so that’s what we did,” he said.
Mr Morris said there were “lots of firetrucks” on the tarmac as the plane taxied to the terminal and the pilot announced that there had been a “major incident”.
“When we landed and the cabin crew said, “You can turn on your phones,” I turned mine on and there were lots of messages and calls from [my wife] saying “Oh, my god, what’s happening?”,” he said.
“There was a surge of adrenaline through the plane, a bit of a buzz when people realised it was a lot more serious than we understood at the time.”
A Qantas spokesman said: “Qantas Flight 144, a 737 flying from Auckland to Sydney, experienced an issue with one of its engines about an hour from its destination.
“While a mayday was initially issued, this has now been downgraded to a PAN (“possible assistance needed”).
The spokesman said more information would be made available once the aircraft had been assessed by engineers.