Mid-air emergency forces China Eastern flight to return to Sydney

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A China Eastern flight from Sydney to Shanghai has been forced to turn around after engine failure caused a mid-air emergency.

“The moment that we took off the wing to my left just started making a massive amount of noise and they cleared all the seats,” a passenger told the Nine Network.

Images show a huge hole in the engine casing of the Airbus A330 which was forced to circle for an hour before touching down safely.

An audio recording of the pilot’s communication with Sydney Tower air traffic control captured the mid-air emergency, with the pilot clearly explaining the gravity of the situation.

The flight, MU736, took off from Sydney bound for Shanghai about 8.30pm on Sunday, before experiencing problems shortly into the journey.
Crew members noticed the inner cowling of engine one had been ripped open and raised the alarm with the captain.

Tracking shows the plane heading north before turning south west, then heading east before turning around and returning to Sydney.

“I am glad we are all safe,” she told Nine News.

Passenger Leigh Stewart praised the crew’s professionalism during the mid-air drama, saying he felt “very lucky.”

Other passengers reported hearing a loud noise followed by a burning smell in the cabin before the plane turned around.

“The moment we took off, the wing to my left just started making a massive amount of noise,” one passenger told 7 News.

Another passenger said: “We went up in the air and all of a sudden we heard this noise… it kind of smelt like burning. Oh, I was scared. Yeah, I was really scared. Our group was terrified.”

The plane landed safely at Sydney Airport where it was greeted by emergency services on the tarmac. All the passengers and crew were evacuated safely and no injuries were reported.

China Eastern staff are investigating the cause of the damage.

Those on board spent the night in nearby hotels and were expected to fly out on Monday morning.

Aviation websites are reporting the damage is eerily similar to that seen in the failure of an Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 engine on an Egyptair A330-200 in May.

Sydney Morning Herald | SCMP

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