Boeing dumps fuel, makes emergency landing in SA

2014-03-10 00:00

A CATHAY Pacific Boeing 747-467 en route to Hong Kong yesterday had to turn back to O.R. Tambo after a flock of birds were sucked into one of the turbines on the left wing.

The plane, which seats 416 passengers, landed safely, but on the ground several people on the East Rand in Johannesburg saw smoke trailing from the wing and how the Boeing dumped its jet fuel over Tembisa to lighten the load for an emergency landing.

Stranded passengers were yesterday clamouring for connecting flights at the Cathay Pacific desk to get to destinations in Japan, China and South Korea. Those who could not be accommodated had to sleep in hotels.

“I could feel how the whole plane started to shake when those birds hit us.

“It was frightening and quite hectic,” said Hans Stenger (65), a businessperson who was flying to Seoul in South Korea.

“I am very relieved to be back on the ground,” said another businessperson, who did not want to give his name. He was philosophical about missing his connecting flight. “Things could have been a lot worse.”

Ruan Schoeman, a pilot instructor who lives in Kempton Park, was busy washing his car when he saw the Boeing flying overhead.

He rushed into the house to get his camera and started taking photos.

“I saw smoke coming from the engine on the left wing,” said Schoeman. “When the plane started dumping fuel, I realised it would do an emergency landing. I saw it fly south to Vereeniging and then back to Krugersdorp. Then it came it at about 15 000 feet at 380 knots to O.R. Tambo for an emergency landing.

“Such an aeroplane must first dump its fuel to be between 20 and 30 tons lighter during its landing … The plane can be seriously damaged if it lands with a full tank.

“You could see it was a very well-trained pilot.”

Katharine Rangayah of Cathy Pacific’s ticket sales said she had accommodated about 200 passengers.

“I can confirm the engine was hit by birds and the flight had to be postponed by a day. We have already taken a lot of passengers to hotels. I cannot comment further.”

“The captain was very professional,” said Stenger, talking about his narrow escape. “He remained calm and got us back on the ground without any problems.

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