A China Eastern Airlines plane bound for Shanghai was diverted back to Sydney as a massive hole appeared in the left part of the engine, and the airplane managed to make a safe emergency landing.
According to the airline, the captain noticed the hole a while after take-off, and the plane was directed back to the Sydney airport. Damage to the air inlet on the left side of the engine created the massive hole that was not present before the plane took off.
— Flight (@flightorg) June 12, 2017
The Flight MU736 took off from Sydney at 8:30 pm on Sunday night headed to Shanghai, China but it had lasted only an hour before the passengers smelled burning and the crew discovered the engine damage to the twin-engine Airbus A330 aircraft. After this, the plane was rerouted and landed back safely in Sydney.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) June 11, 2017
The general manager for Oceania region at China Eastern Airlines, Kathy Zhang commented on the incident, “The crew observed the abnormal situation of the left engine and decided to return to Sydney airport immediately. All passengers and crew members were landed safely.”
The situation was noticed as a loud bang was heard followed by an intense burning smell. The passengers were obviously terrified, as the flight staff moved them away from the damaged engine. The plane circled at the Syndey airport for an hour before it got the permission to land. What left the Australian passengers even more terrified was the fact that most announcements were made in Chinese as the Australian passengers missed out on critical information.
The airplane was made to land safely without any injuries, and the passengers were provided a stay in hotels at Sydney airport while the airlines arranged other flights to their destinations. Amidst all the chaos, the airline staff remained very professional, and the passengers acknowledged this.
The UK-based Rolls-Royce is the manufacturer of the airplane engines, who issued a statement reading, “We are aware of the incident and will be working closely with our customer and relevant partners to understand the cause of the issue.”
The engine issue is not a minor one, and the follow-up investigations will involve aviation authorities from both China and Australia. China Eastern spokesperson said, “The engine for the aircraft is a big issue, so we need to investigate with the governments, with the Rolls-Royce company, and with our headquarters as well.”
Aviation experts suggested that apparently the engine cowling was ripped away from the main compressor blade. Professor Jason Middleton from the University of New South Wales in Sydney said, “When one of these things happens you often don’t know how the damage began. It could have begun from loose screws.”