World News

Qantas engine failure "the scariest thing I've seen"

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Passengers on the giant Qantas Airways jet forced to make an emergency landing in Singapore on Thursday said they heard a loud bang and saw pieces of one of the engines fall off soon after take-off for Sydney.

The Airbus A380, which had originated in London and was carrying 459 people, suffered failure of one of its four engines.

Australian officials said no one on board was injured. One passenger said an explosion ripped off the engine’s rear casing.

“I just heard this massive bang, like a shotgun going off,” Tyler Wooster told Australia’s Network Nine television. “Part of the skin had peeled off and you could see the foam underneath, pieces of broken wires sticking out.”

Thursday’s incident was one of most serious for the A380, the world’s biggest passenger jet, in its three years of commercial flight. Qantas said it was grounding its fleet of six A380s pending a full investigation.

“I was sitting over the wing, where the No. 2 engine is. I was looking out of the window on the tarmac as we took off,” Ulf Waschbusch, another passenger, told Reuters.

Former aircraft engineer Neil Shephard was also on board.

“Four or five minutes after the flight there was a loud bang. The pilot said there was a technical issue with the plane and then we circled around for an hour to dump the fuel,” he told Reuters.

“During the landing, it was a bit wobbly. We could not tell the extent of the problem until we got out of the plane where we could see one hole around six to seven inches wide on the wing. The pilot did a good job, it could have been worse.”

The plane circled Singapore to burn fuel before making an emergency landing. It had been in the air almost an hour.

About an hour after landing, passengers left the aircraft and were in Singapore’s Changi airport. A Qantas statement said they would stay in Singapore overnight and another plane would be sent for them on Friday morning.

A Reuters reporter said the plane was surrounded on the ground by emergency vehicles, but there was no sign of smoke or fire.

Christopher Lee told Australia’s ABC radio the passengers heard a bang, and reported rattling in the cabin.

“Some of the passengers then alerted cabin staff that there was an explosion, there was smoke ... We circled in a holding pattern above Singapore for about an hour,” he said. Passengers were kept informed at all times, he said.

Neither the A380 nor Qantas has suffered a fatal accident. The airline is due to celebrate its 90th anniversary this month with a special open day in Brisbane.

Additional reporting by Michael Perry, Vivek Prakash, James Grubel and Harry Suhartono; Writing by Daniel Magnowski, Editing by Miral Fahmy