Etihad Airways has disputed media reports that a female flight attendant was screaming, along with other passengers, when one of its Sydney-bound flights turned back to Abu Dhabi last week with an engine problem.
Coincidentally, an audio record of the landing, recorded by a passenger aboard, has surfaced on YouTube (see below).
Etihad Airways flight EY450, a B777-300 with 329 passengers aboard, including many Australians, turned back to the UAE capital on Tuesday 27 September 2016, 32 minutes into the flight. See: Screaming reported as Sydney-bound flight turns back
A vivid report from a 19-year-old Australian student aboard the plane appeared in The Australian, in which the student was quoted saying “everyone was crying and screaming. Everyone was holding hands. The worst thing was the stewardess opposite me screaming and screaming.”
A spokesman for the airline, however, says the flight attendant was not “screaming” in terror.
“She was shouting ‘brace, brace, brace’”, the spokesman said, adding that this was “in accordance with our training and the safety procedures of most world airlines in such circumstances”.
The teenage student who spoke to The Australian said she had spoken afterwards to the flight attendant in question, and the flight attendant had told her she practises shouting “Brace!” every month “but this was the first time she’d had to do it for real”.
Meanwhile, a video has surfaced, shot on the plane. The images are nothing much, as the phone appears to be resting on a seat or moving at random. The audio, however, continues uninterrupted for almost 10 minutes.
The soundtrack records screaming, crying and wailing, some apparently from children or infants. It is interspersed by what seems to be both male and female voices calling “brace brace” at various intervals – none sounding at all panicked. Applause sounds (3.24 on the clip) when the plane touches down, followed by a quick message to crew from the captain.
Once the plane has landed, the captain makes an announcement (8:50 on the clip) asking passengers to remain seated. He then calmly explains the problem with the left engine and the need for the fire brigade to check it, to ensure passengers can disembark safely. Another round of applause follows the captain’s announcement.
“The pilots and cabin crew carried out the emergency procedures before landing which they practice regularly during their routine training details,” an Etihad spokesperson told Gulf Business. “The crew are to be commended for their calm professionalism which ensured a safe outcome for all our guests.”
Written by Peter Needham