OR Tambo plane scare

2013-10-13 06:00

Passengers on a Cape Town-bound flight out of Joburg’s OR Tambo International Airport had the fright of their lives after another aircraft allegedly strayed on to their runway seconds before takeoff.

Physicist Rudzani Nemutudi, a passenger on the Kulula MN 109 flight, said he was “shocked” when, about five seconds before takeoff just after 7.30pm last night, the pilot had slammed on brakes in an apparent bid to avoid another aircraft.

Nemutudi said the aircraft, which had undergone a gate change and a slight delay, had skidded for about seven seconds or so before finally coming to a halt.

“We were accelerating very fast along the runway after gathering speed gradually. We must have been five to 10 seconds from actual takeoff when suddenly you could feel the pilot had just stepped on the brake. It was a very shocking experience.

“You could feel that something bad had nearly happened. Ultimately, we came to a halt after skidding for about six or seven seconds,” recalled a shaken Nemutudi.

“After about a minute of silence an announcement was made to the effect that another plan had gotten on to our runway without permission. We were already shocked when he stopped so suddenly.

“That was when everybody realised that something fatal had nearly happened,” he said.

Nemutudi, who was returning home to Cape Town after a meeting at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria, said this was the worst flying experience he had ever had.

“I have been flying since 1991 and I have never had such a shocking experience,” he said.

Comair spokesperson Susan van der Ryst failed to respond to calls and text messages from City Press.

Airports Company SA spokesperson Unathi Batyashe-Fillis referred City Press to the Air Traffic Navigation Service (ATNS).

ATNS spokesperson Percy Morokane was unable to confirm or deny the incident.

He said all aviation related incidents were reported to the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and thereafter investigations are launched. He said the the ATNS would provide a report on what happened should the SACAA request it.

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