April 14, 2010 / 3:06 AM / 8 years ago

Pilots hailed as heroes for averting Hong Kong air disaster

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The pilots of a Cathay Pacific flight who managed to steer an Airbus A330 plane to safety at Hong Kong’s airport after both its engines malfunctioned, have been hailed as heroes by colleagues.

Cathay Pacific said in a statement the plane’s left engine had shut down as the aircraft made its landing approach at Hong Kong’s international airport on Tuesday with 309 passengers on a flight from Surabaya in Indonesia.

The right engine also began to “cut out inexplicably, leaving the (pilots) to cope with dips and surges in power and the prospect of the plane plunging into the sea short of (the airport),” the South China Morning Post reported.

The emergency landing caused all four tires on the left hand side of the plane to deflate, while two on the right side also deflated, the airline said. Passengers were evacuated on emergency inflatable slides. There were eight injuries.

“It was an amazing piece of piloting in extremely testing circumstances,” one colleague of the two Australian pilots was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post. “One engine was shut down completely and the other was going on and of. They effectively landed the plane on half an engine.”

“Their stories will come out in due course when the investigation is complete but what they did was nothing short of heroic. It’s a miracle they managed to get the plane down safely,” the paper quoted another Cathay Pacific staff as saying.

Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation department said it would investigate the “serious aircraft incident” and release a report in a month’s time.

Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Sugita Katyal

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