Leader reporter caught up in Qantas drama

Reporter:

Staff reporter

A BUSINESSMAN has spoken of the horror aboard an Airbus A380 which suffered a major engine failure mid-flight.

Matt Hewitt had a lucky escape when the passenger jet, flying from London to Sydney, was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines shut down mid-air.

Speaking exclusively to the Leader from Singapore, he said: “We set off out of Singapore and we had been climbing for about 30 minutes when there was a big bang and a shudder.

“Everyone just looked around and then there was a second bang and people started to panic.

“There was a flash at the window and you could see smoke coming from the wing.
“The entire back half of the engine fell off and the wing collapsed.”

The Quantas A380 aircraft, whose wings are made at Airbus’s Broughton plant, was carrying 433 passengers and 26 crew.

Mr Hewitt, 25, sent a message from aboard the plane to his partner, Leader reporter Hayley Collins.

She said: “I got a text message at 3.30am to say ‘don’t be alarmed but an engine has blown up mid-flight and torn a hole in the wing’. I just started to panic.

“It was an agonising two-hour wait before I heard from him again to say they had landed safely.”

Mr Hewitt, who has family in Wrexham and Mostyn, said the aircrew did their best to keep everyone calm.

He added: “One of the pilots came over the intercom and said they wanted to start running some tests and dumping fuel so they could land, but we could see the hole in the wing was getting bigger.

“To be fair, the pilot and the staff were very good and kept reassuring people. Surprisingly people kept quite calm.”

The plane circled for two hours before landing safely at Singapore’s Changi Airport .

But the passengers were forced to stay on the plane for another 30 minutes as there was a major fuel leak.

Fire crews were drafted in to assess the situation. Mr Hewitt added: “They couldn’t let us off for ages after we landed because the fuel was leaking out and it was too dangerous.

"It was starting to get really hot on the plane and people were starting to get worried because they wouldn’t let us off.

“We were eventually led off in small groups by the fire brigade.”

It was only after leaving the aircraft the passengers realised the full extent of the damage to the aircraft.

Mr Hewitt added: “When we got off the plane and saw the state of the engine we realised it was pretty damn bad.

“I think if people would have known beforehand how bad the damage was there would have been a lot more panic. “We had a lucky escape.”

Mr Hewitt, a technical services engineer from Cheshire, was travelling to Australia on a business trip.

Passengers were put up in hotels in Singapore overnight while alternative flights were arranged.

See full story in the Leader

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