News Plane incidents Update News — 12 April 2017

Update: Qantas passengers describe scenes onboard aircraft during ‘stick shaker’ incident

Passengers who were onboard Qantas flight QF29 from Melbourne to Hong Kong recall mixed scenes from inside the fuselage during the ‘stick shaker’ incident that left 15 people injured.

One passenger described distressing scenes of people being “tossed out of their seats” by severe turbulence, while another said it was “nothing out of the ordinary”.

Financial adviser Adam Routledge was travelling to Hong Kong to attend the Rugby Sevens tournament.

Mr Routledge said he was sitting “in the thick of the incident” in row 63 and said the experience was “very distressing”.

At one stage during the ordeal, Mr Routledge said he feared for his life.

Mr Routledge described seeing passengers being thrown from their seats during what he called “aggressive turbulence”.

“There was basically two parties involved — those who were buckled up, and those who weren’t,” he explained.

“Those who weren’t were unfortunately tossed around very seriously. I was sitting amongst some elderly ladies who were obviously not buckled up, and one in particular behind me actually hit the roof.”

In video taken by Mr Routledge after the incident, a staff member can be heard updating passengers over the loudspeaker.

“I think in hindsight the pilot was good, and there were probably some circumstances where the air stewardesses were sort of running up and down the aisles in some ways creating more panic,” Mr Routledge said.

“When the alarms went off that was almost scarier than the actual drop itself because they created a scene where you were asking: ‘Could there be a fire? Is there a fire?’

“I was speaking to an air stewardess afterwards and she’d been an air stewardess for seven years and said they’d never, ever experienced anything like that.”

‘I’ve experienced worse’

Scott Browne, a sales director, was on his way to attend the HKTFC Electronics fair and the China Import and Export Fair.

Mr Browne was seated in economy near the centre of the aircraft.

“There was a big ‘dip’ you could call it — kind of like being on one of those giant theme park slides,” he said.

“It went down and up and down and up again. It did that once and everything was fine … and then it did it again.

Mr Browne said that from where he was seated on the aircraft, and after exiting the plane, he did not see any of the 15 injured passengers.

“The descriptions sounded a bit overdramatic to me and I really just thought the staff did a fantastic job. They re-assured us that we were OK and made sure everyone on board was OK,” he said.

“It certainly wasn’t a ‘near-death experience’.

“Anyone who has ever flown over the equator or into Melbourne on a hot day would have experienced a much bumpier ride,” he said.

“These things happen.”

Qantas under ATSB investigation

About an hour from their arrival, Qantas pilots detected airframe buffeting — a strong vibration usually associated with separated airflow.

According to the ATSB, an alert known in the industry as a “stick shaker” then occurred, where the controls vibrate as a warning to the pilots that they need to take action or the plane will stall.

The flight crew took manual control of the plane and landed safely at Hong Kong airport, where 15 people were treated for minor injuries.

“Two passengers were transferred to hospital for precautionary medical assessment as a result of their injuries and later released,” Qantas said in a statement.

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Older news:
Australia’s air safety watchdog is investigating a serious mid-air incident involving a Qantas jet, after 15 people were injured when it suffered a so-called “stick shaker” warning.

The drama unfolded about 110km southeast of Hong Kong on April 7, after flight QF29 took off from Melbourne.

Pilots reported feeling “airframe buffeting”, a potential warning the plane is about to stall, while “holding” at 22,000 feet.

The flight crew also received a “stick shaker activation”, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said. The stick shaker device causes the aircraft’s control stick to vibrate noisily to warn the pilot of an imminent stall.

It takes a physical, rather than visual, form so the crew will be alerted even if they are not looking at the panel.

The ATSB classified the Boeing 747’s incident as serious and said a report would be released “within several months” after it interviewed the flight crew.

“The flight crew disconnected the autopilot and manoeuvred the aircraft in response,” it said.

“Fifteen passengers received minor injuries.”

The incident is understood to have lasted about two minutes and while the flight landed normally in Hong Kong, an ambulance met passengers as a precaution and one person was taken to hospital for assessment.

Qantas said customers experienced “unexpected in-flight turbulence” during the trip.

“We notified the ATSB of the occurrence, and our own teams are also reviewing the event,” a spokeswoman said.

The plane was inspected by engineers before it flew out of Hong Kong again that night.

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