It’s easy to take flying for granted, especially while drinking champagne in business class. On August 28, 157 passengers onboard a Capital Airlines flight from Beijing to Macau were snapped out of that serene lull.
At around 11.10am the plane began its descent to Macau International Airport, which was 40 minutes ahead of the flight's scheduled arrival time. Unfortunately, immediately after the plane’s wheels touched ground, the carrier was hit by a forceful blast of wind that damaged the plane’s undercarriage. The heavy impact also broke off pieces of the front wheels, which flew directly into the left engine. It wasn’t until two loud thuds, followed by the quick ascension, that alarms were raised.
According to passengers, the plane’s left engine appeared to catch on fire, only to completely stop functioning 10 minutes later. The plane, now circling over Shenzhen, experienced an additional 40 minutes of volatile flight patterns. One passenger claimed, “When we were circling around in the air, I just wanted to jump into the sea,” as he recalled many of the passengers and flight crew crying throughout the ordeal.
No announcement was made by the flight crew following the incident, leaving passengers to envision worst-case scenarios. Only 10 minutes prior to landing in Shenzhen, the pilot informed everyone the plane would be descending, providing a major dose of relief to both passengers and crewmembers.
After landing the plane, the passengers slid down the seldom-used emergency slide, arguably the only perk to such a frightening experience.
Five passengers were ‘lightly injured’ during the incident, with the aircraft taking the brunt of the damage (a failed left engine, ruined landing gears and no front tires!).
This event occurred just days after another Capital Airlines plane was forced to return to Kunming 20 minutes into the flight after suffering mechanical issues. Luckily, no one was injured in the incident.
[Cover image via Nanfang Metropolis Daily]