An extended holiday on island after engine failure

2013-01-11 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Passengers on a Delta Airlines Boeing 777, which took off from O.R. Tambo airport on Wednesday night, got an unplanned island holiday when their plane had to make an emergency landing on Ascension Island early yesterday morning.

The island is about 1 600 km west of Angola and near St Helena.

Jacques Palin, a qualified pilot who has been working as a graphic designer in Knoxville, U.S. since 1998, was one of the passengers on board flight DL201.

“I was with my girlfriend, Susie Isaac, an American, on the way home after visiting family in South Africa,” Palin said.

“About six hours after we took off, I heard a strange noise from the right and felt how we were losing height and that the plane was turning.

“The captain said the most important engine had failed and that we had to land on Ascension.”

Palin said that the plane circled the island to use up fuel and make the plane lighter.

Angela Kontou of Delta Airlines in South Africa said the 269 adults, five children and 15 crew members on board all disembarked safely.

Palin said the landing was a bit rough, but quite good under the circumstances.

He felt the crew did not communicate enough with passengers, most of whom did not understand what was happening and became hysterical and very worried.

Palin added that Delta Airlines had not told the passengers yet what they had to do next to continue their journey.

“We are just hanging around the British side of the island,” he said.

The British army used Ascension as a base during the Falklands War against Argentina in the early 1980s and maintains a presence on the island. The U.S. air force, the European space agency and the BBC World Service also have staff on the island.

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