The repeated screams of a flight attendant added to the panicked clamour of passengers shrieking and crying as a Sydney-bound Etihad flight turned back to Abu Dhabi with an engine problem, according to an Australian newspaper report.
Etihad Airways flight EY450, a B777-300 with 329 passengers aboard, including many Australians, turned back to the UAE capital on Tuesday, 32 minutes into the flight.
A vivid report from a 19-year-old Australian student aboard the plane appeared in The Australian.
The student said “everyone was crying and screaming. Everyone was holding hands. The worst thing was the stewardess opposite me screaming and screaming.”
Another passenger told The Australian that the plane’s tyres were completely burnt out following the emergency high-speed landing, “with the rims left touching the ground”. Photos of the deflated tyres have appeared on aviation websites.
The Aviation Herald reported that the incident closed the airport “for about 30 minutes causing a number of arriving flights to enter holding patterns and even divert”. Then the second runway had entered service again.
Etihad arranged accommodation for passengers, who were re-booked on a later flight to Australia. The replacement B777-300 reached Sydney with a delay of 10 hours and 45 minutes.
The Aviation Herald said it had received information that the tread of left nose wheel tyre separated from the tyre and impacted the avionics door so hard that the door buckled open.
“The rubber bounced off the door and went through the left hand engine causing an engine surge and bang during rotation,” the publication reported.
Etihad said: “Etihad Airways Flight EY450 from Abu Dhabi to Sydney on Tuesday 27 September returned to the airport due to a technical issue. As is standard practice, emergency response was activated at the airport. The Boeing 777 aircraft landed safely.”
Written by Peter Needham