AirAsia flight from Australia to Indonesia plunged 20,000 feet due to a 'technical issue'
If, like me, you're a habitually nervous flyer, then you've probably heard a few well-worn platitudes about how safe flying on an airplane really is; such as how far, far more people around the world die as a result of car collisions than from flying. Still, that doesn't dissuade the inherent fears we have of the giant, winged tin can simply dropping out of the sky and falling to earth.
No matter what people say, commercial aviation disasters do happen, planes can crash, engines can fail, pilots can lose control, and when these nightmare scenarios occur, it's a frankly terrifying experience for all of those people on board.
Over the last week, the world was left terrified by recorded footage of AirAsia flight QZ535, which apparently experienced a technical fault causing it to drop 20,000 feet while airborne. Passengers on the flight from Australia to the island of Bali in Indonesia documented the chilling moment when the engines failed just 25 minutes after take-off. A total of 145 passengers were on the plane when oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling, and the panicking cabin crew commanded them to adopt the brace position for impact.
The plane managed to recover altitude after the engine failure, but only after it had descended to approximately 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). Data from retrieved from FlightRadar, a site which tracks planes using GPS, shows the plane managed to fall 23,800 feet (7,250 meters) in the space of nine minutes. No one on board was injured by the alarming incident, and the plane managed to land in Bali safely. The mortified passengers later described the scenes of chaos on board.
Passenger Clare Askew stated, "The panic was escalated because of the behavior of staff who were screaming, looked tearful and shocked. Now, I get it, but we looked to them for reassurance and we didn't get any, we were more worried because of how panicked they were."
Mark Bailey told Seven Network television: "Hostesses started screaming: 'Emergency, emergency.' They just went hysterical. There was no real panic before that, then everyone panicked."
In response to the averted-disaster, AirAsia Group head of safety Captain Ling Liong Tien stated, "We commend our pilots for landing the aircraft safely and complying with standard operating procedure. We are fully committed to the safety of our guests and crew and we will continue to ensure that we adhere to the highest safety standards."
This isn't the first time an AirAsia flight has come close to catastrophe. On 28 December 2014, Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 crashed into the Java Sea whilst en route to Changi International Airport in Singapore. All 162 people traveling on board were killed.
Furthermore, the Indonesian National Transport Safety Committee report has reported that the South East Asian airline has been responsible for a number of technical and safety infractions in the past, and even noted that a number of pilots were inadequately trained in stall recovery techniques. Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority is currently in the process of investigating the flight in order to determine the cause of the issue.