Plane loses engine during take off

Time of article published Nov 8, 2007

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By Babalo Ndenze and Quinton Mtyala

Commuters at Cape Town International Airport were left in shock on Wednesday when a Nationwide Airlines plane lost an engine during take off, forcing it to land.

It was the second incident involving an aircraft at the airport in less than a week.

The incident happened about 4pm, according to Alvin Driver who witnessed the plane losing its engine from a restaurant at the airport.

"I was sitting at the Spur as the Nationwide plane was taking off. Then all of a sudden the engine came off its wing. It relanded and fire brigades came. It's still on the side of the tarmac," said Driver a few minutes after the accident.

He said it didn't look like anyone had been injured.

"There were quite a number of people here. I don't know what's going on with Cape Town International," said Driver, who was waiting for a friend flying in from Johannesburg.

Kyla Hayes, who was on the plane, flying to Johannesburg on a connecting flight to London, said there was a clear "bang" as the plane took off.

"There was this bang and the whole plane just lurched to one side. For a while it seemed as if the plane could not get any height," said Hayes.

The plane eventually rose, as one of the passengers alerted cabin crew that an engine had "fallen off".

"We flew for another 30 minutes and the crew trained us in emergency flight procedures.

"As we landed they shouted at us to brace," said Hayes.

He described the landing as perfect.

Phillippe Reynaud, another passenger on the plane, said after take-off the plane circled around False Bay.

"We assumed the pilot was dumping the plane's fuel load over the bay, afterwards we went into the emergency flight procedure," said Reynaud.

Several tour groups from UK were aboard. They were on their way to catch connecting flights to London.

A tour guide, who didn't want to be identified, said he had dropped off members of his party at the airport, returning immediately when he heard of the incident.

He said some passengers had received trauma counselling at the airport's international arrivals section while plans were made to get them on to other flights.

The incident follows Friday's mayhem when a Airbus went off the main runway, burying its front wheel in sand.

The airport was closed to all inbound and outbound flights for about two-and-a-half hours following the incident.

An official at Nationwide's head office in Johannesburg declined to give details of the incident, only saying that "flight 723 landed safely without any injuries".

Airports Company of SA spokesperson Deidre Hendricks said the runway was closed for about 10 minutes due to debris on the runway from the aircraft.

"The airport's fire and rescue immediately responded and by 4.10pm the runway was cleared. The departing aircraft returned for landing at 4.29pm and landed safely," said Hendricks.

She said the runway was opened at 5pm after it was cleared and declared safe for use.

"I can confirm that six aircraft have been diverted to George airport as a result of the runway closure," said Hendricks.

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