Passengers aboard flight FA 461, which departed at roughly 8pm on Tuesday, August 20 from Cape Town to Durban, were left traumatised after the plane had to make an emergency landing.
According to passengers aboard, they could smell fumes and see smoke just 20 minutes into the flight, forcing the plane to turn back to Cape Town International Airport to ensure the safety of those on board.
FlySafair has confirmed the incident, saying the aircraft experienced a technical issue during the flight. Pilots were able to land the plane back at the airport safely after the cabin crew was alerted to an issue regarding the cabin’s pressurisation system and the required safety procedures were correctly followed.
According to FlySafair, the crew aboard initiated full safety protocol with full professionalism and a “rapid descent” had to be carried out. “The aircraft had reached an altitude of approximately 20 000 feet above sea level when the crew initiated the descent action, with the aim to return the aircraft to 10 000 feet above sea level, where pressurisation is not a concern. In this process, as briefed at the beginning of each flight, oxygen masks deployed from overhead panels to provide enriched air for customers to breathe during this quick descent,” said the airline in a statement.
The plane landed safely just before 9pm, and no one aboard required medical assistance following the landing.
“During events like these, crew are required to prioritise their actions in the following order: Aviate, Navigate, and then Communicate. This was the exact order that the crew of FA 461 followed – prioritising the safety of the aircraft by initiating the descent, directing it back to Cape Town International, communicating with Air Traffic Control, and then with the customers on board. We thank our crew for the excellent work they did,” FlySafair said.
A number of passengers aboard the flight have since accused the airline of being insensitive and an investigation is underway.
“At that time it was around 9pm and I was still anxious after the incident so I stayed with others. We thought they would book a hotel for us, but we were told the flight was delayed so they can’t book for us. They said if the flight was delayed for more than four hours then they would assist. Our argument was that the flight was not delayed, but nearly crashed, and we were told there’s nothing they can do because it’s not their policy. Even getting to speak to the manager took two hours [because] their customer service was poor. We were literally stranded at the airport,” passenger Luke Davies said to IOL.