A Qantas plane carrying 365 people was forced to make an emergency landing in Manila after part of the fuselage was ripped open at 30,000 feet, sucking pressure from the cabin.
The Boeing 747-400 had left Hong Kong an hour earlier en route from London to Melbourne when the piece broke off, leaving a gaping four-metre hole down the right side. Passengers reported hearing a loud bang followed by air and debris rushing through the cabin. The pilot made a rapid descent, landing safely in Manila airport.
One of the passengers, Dr June Kane, told Australia’s ABC television: “There was an incredible boom. Everyone thought the plane would disintegrate. There was wood and newspapers flying past me and a woman who I was talking to in first class, and then oxygen masks fell down,” Dr Kane said.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer of Qantas, Mr Geoff Dixon, said all 346 passengers and 19 crew disembarked normally and there were no reports of any injuries to passengers or crew.
He said initial inspections revealed the aircraft had sustained a hole in its fuselage, and it was currently being inspected by engineers.
“The Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) have been notified of the incident and Qantas is sending its own engineers to Manila,” he added.
“Qantas has provided all passengers with accommodation and a replacement aircraft has been arranged.”
Qantas has arranged for a replacement aircraft to fly to Manila tonight to collect the passengers from QF30.
Mr Dixon praised the pilots and cabin crew for the way they handled the incident. “This was a highly unusual situation and our crew responded with the professionalism that Qantas is known for,” he said.