A Cathay Dragon flight bound for Phuket, Thailand, was forced to return to Hong Kong shortly after take-off after an “abnormal condition” was noticed in one of its engines.
All the 148 passengers aboard the Airbus A321-200 plane, along with the crew, were unharmed, but it was a scary flight and they had to wait for five hours before they were able to board another plane to reach their destination, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Flight KA-212 took off at around 8:40 a.m. from Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday but the pilot decided to turn back in less than an hour. It landed in Hong Kong at 9:56 a.m.
A photographer who witnessed the incident said he saw fire and smoke coming from the engine on the left side of the plane as it was ascending at about 9 a.m.
He posted a photo of the plane on his Facebook page.
But Cathay Dragon, formerly called Dragonair, a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific Group, did not confirm this.
A company spokesman said the decision was made according to established procedures after the aircraft instrument panel signaled a “temperature anomaly” in one of the engines.
He apologized for the inconvenience caused to the passengers.
Writing her version of the incident on her Facebook page, a stewardess aboard the flight said she heard banging sounds twice and felt the plane shudder, Apple Daily reported.
She then learned that the chief pilot had decided to shut off a problematic engine and was told by the senior purser to get ready for an emergency, adding that she was extremely scared until the plane landed safely, the report said.
The company spokesman said the aircraft was being thoroughly inspected and a report regarding the incident would be submitted to the Civil Aviation Department (CAD).
Without confirming if the engine had caught fire, the spokesman only said the sparks shown in the Facebook photo were similar to those coming out of racing cars.
Arrangements were made for the passengers to board another flight to Phuket, around five hours behind their original flight schedule, the HKEJ report said.
Former CAD chief Lok Kung-nam said the banging sound from the engine suggested possible fuel leak and the fire was likely caused by the impact of detached turbine blades on the engine.
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