Pilot turns back and safely lands aircraft at Subang airport

Pilot turns back and safely lands aircraft at Subang airport
Mid-air fright: A handphone photo taken by one of the passengers showing the burning engine.

PETALING JAYA - A Malindo Air plane on its way to Kuala Terengganu was forced to turn back to the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang after one of its engines caught fire.

The airline said in a statement that the ATR-72-600 twin-engine turboprop aircraft experienced the fire at about 7,000 feet (2,133m) while it was ascending.

"The aircraft fire detection system was activated and the crew immediately carried out the emergency checklist to contain the situation.

"The pilot turned back and the aircraft landed safely in Subang without any further incident or injury to the passengers and crew members.

"All the passengers were later transferred to another flight to Kuala Terengganu," said the press statement.

The airline said the cause of the fire was being investigated and the matter had been reported to the relevant authorities and aircraft manufacturer.

Among those on board the 7.30am flight yesterday were members of the Terengganu football team which was returning home after their victory over ATM FA.

Passenger Alan Harper said he saw the fire on the aircraft's wing and immediately informed a cabin crew member.

"I asked her to have a look out my window. As soon as she saw it, her face changed and she rushed to inform the pilot.

"We are very fortunate that we could be here now and I thank God for that," said the 68-year-old Englishman who is on a business trip.

Another passenger, T.K. Lim, 46, said one of the engines stopped abruptly and caught fire, creating a commotion among the passengers.

"But everyone soon calmed down. The fire must have lasted at least seven minutes," said Lim, who had a video of the burning engine.

Terengganu midfielder Faiz Subri said the experience was "very frightening" as he sat close to the wing which caught fire and had a clear view of it.

"Only God knows what we all felt then. But the flight crew was able to keep us calm," said Faiz in Kuala Terengganu.

He admitted that the publicity over the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had stoked fear in him and his teammates.

Teammate Abdul Manaf Mamat said he was fearful of flying after the incident.

"I actually considered taking a bus home and not getting on the other plane. I braved myself and thankfully arrived home safe.

"But I am not sure about flying again," he said.

Malindo Air is a joint venture between Indonesia's Lion Air and Malaysia's National Aerospace and Defence Industries.

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