Passenger tells of 1time chaos

Johannesburg - Frightened passengers were injured when they jumped out of a 1time plane at OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday, after smoke started coming out of the engine exhaust.

Flight 1t119 from Johannesburg to Cape Town had to be quickly evacuated before takeoff when  the plane experienced engine problems.

It caused panic amongst passengers and cabin crew.

1time CEO Rodney James said the engine started losing power on the runway at about 09:45. The captain decided to abort the takeoff and reported the problem to the control tower before parking the plane.

Emergency evacuation

When firefighters arrived at the plane, they saw smoke coming from the engine, after which the captain ordered an emergency evacuation.

Lizel Kruger from Lynnwood, Pretoria, said her daughter Esti, 22, a passenger on the plane, called her in tears shortly after the drama.

"She was in a state and said the flight attendants had panicked more than the people. She was crying and said the pilot shouted there was a fire, they should evacuate the plane.

"I am very relieved that she is safe but also very angry at 1time. The flight attendants made a bigger fuss than the passengers," said Esti's mother.

Esti, a second-year arts student at the University of Cape Town, told her mother how frightened passengers injured themselves by jumping from the plane before the emergency slide was in place.

She said the panic-stricken flight attendants contributed to the chaos.

Esti was the second last of the 128 passengers to leave the plane. She hurt her finger and knee when she left the plane via the emergency slide.

Nobody was seriously injured, but five passengers were taken to hospital for observation.

Right decision

James said in retrospect an emergency evacuation had not been necessary, but it was the right decision at the time.

James said a "possible foreign object damaged the engine".

"After the engine was examined, it was clear that there was no external fire but that the smoke was coming from the engine exhaust due to the engine problems. Another plane was called in to take the stranded people to Cape Town," said James.

Esti said the airline had given every passenger a R60 gift voucher.

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