China Eastern Airlines

Calm, celebration ... then shock as passengers on China Eastern flight realise huge hole in engine only after emergency landing

Some passengers terrified, others oblivious to massive tear found in engine cowling

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 June, 2017, 11:15am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 1:40am

Passengers on an aborted China Eastern Airlines flight celebrated after it touched down in an emergency landing in Sydney on Sunday night, but some were oblivious to the huge hole in one of the aircraft’s engines, one ­person on the plane said.

But others were reportedly ­terrified and could smell burning.

The engine of the Airbus A330-200 was damaged after take-off from Sydney Airport, forcing the Shanghai-bound flight to return to the Australian city.

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An EgyptAir flight from Cairo to Beijing also had to abort a take-off last month because of similar damage to an engine on the Airbus A330-200 jet. The same Rolls-Royce model Trent 772 engine was involved in both incidents.

There have been at least 26 ­incidents involving the A330 this year, eight of which were engine problems, according to aviation statistics site AeroInside.

Airbus China said on Monday it had been in “close contact with engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce in ­order to identify the nature of the incident. In the meantime, we will fully support the investigation into the incident”.

Zheng Meng, an Australia-based Chinese who was on board the plane, said she heard a loud noise soon after the aircraft took off at about 8.30pm.

Some passengers were calm, thinking the situation was not serious, Zhang wrote on her microblog.

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“After landing at the airport, everybody applauded and some foreign passengers asked for beer to celebrate,” Zheng wrote. “I didn’t feel bad while sitting in the plane. After reading the news report, I think I’m just so lucky!”

One passenger told Australian broadcaster Channel Seven that another passenger sitting in a window seat could immediately see something was wrong.

“The Chinese fellow ... obviously saw what was going on ­because he was waving frantically to the staff to come and look at the window,” the passenger said. “There were only about three or four English-speaking people on the plane and the majority of ­announcements were made in Chinese. That was a little bit tricky.”

Another said they were terrified: “It kind of smelled like burning. I was really scared. Thank God we’re alive.”

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Channel Seven also reported that residents in the southwestern Sydney area of Macarthur reported a low-flying aircraft and “a banging noise” overhead.

Crew reported a fault in the left side engine of the aircraft as it was ascending after take-off, according to the Aviation Herald website.

The aircraft levelled off at about 5,000 feet and the crew shut the engine down, the report said. The crew then reported that the engine’s cowling, or cover, was damaged and requested a runway inspection at Sydney ­Airport.

No debris was found on the runway and the aircraft returned to Sydney in a safe landing about 40 minutes after departure, the report said. A large hole could be seen in the engine’s cowling after its return.

An audio clip posted on Twitter indicated that the pilot tried to report the fault to the control tower.

A spokesman for the airline said the pilot was experienced and worked as the general manager of its pilot training company.

Everybody on board the flight was unharmed, the carrier said.