Passenger confusion during mid-air ‘scare’

AIR SCARE: A Regional Express Airlines Saab 340 twin-turboprop, similar to the aircraft involved in last night’s mid-air incident. FILE IMAGE

A PENOLA man has told of the confusion on-board the Regional Express Airlines flight after its crew revealed the Mount Gambier-bound plane had suffered a significant engine issue.

The Saab 340 twin-turboprop circled six times over the OB-flat district while emergency protocols were activated at Mount Gambier Airport before landing without incident at around 8.05pm.

It has since been revealed an electrical fault caused one of the plane’s engines to shut down mid-flight, triggering the precautionary response.

Kirk Rasmussen was one of eight passengers travelling on Rex flight 3783 from Melbourne to Mount Gambier, when he woke to a message from the pilot.

“I heard him come over the speaker, but the volume was really quiet I couldn’t really hear what he was saying,” Mr Rasmussen said.

“He said something about a left-hand motor surging and then I asked the flight attendant when she walked past.

“She gave me a two-word answer about the motor and I thought ‘well that can’t be all that flash,'”

Mr Rasmussen said communication between crew and passengers was limited for the remainder of the flight, which landed 43 minutes after the scheduled arrival time.

The 23-year-old man said he was surprised by the lack of clarity during the incident.

“I was able to remain calm, but the person sitting next to me was pretty worked up,” he said.

“Even when we landed we weren’t briefed or told anything about what had happened.”

It wasn’t until Mr Rasmussen saw the commotion when he returned to his vehicle that he realised the potential seriousness of the event.

“I was walking back to the car and I saw two cop cars trying to get on the tarmac with the Country Fire Service and an ambulance,” he said.

“I thought maybe someone on the Adelaide flight had kicked the bucket, but then I saw the media coverage this morning and realised it was for our plane.”

Read the full story in tomorrow’s print edition.

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