PHUKET International Airport went on full alert for a crash-landing when the hydraulics system failed temporarily on a Thai Airways Boeing 747 flying from Bangkok to Phuket yesterday.
Passengers on the fully-laden holiday flight told Phuketwan
there were tears and great concern throughout the aircraft when the captain on TG217 told them to prepare for an emergency landing.
The 4pm flight from Bangkok, with about 70 percent expat passengers, was due on Phuket at 5.05pm. But crisis intervened, and the aircraft stayed in the air for an hour and 40 minutes.
One passenger told Phuketwan
''When the captain said we should prepare for an emergency, the first thing that went through my head was: 'I'm gonna die.'''
Another passenger said she was thinking similar thoughts during the emergency, with the aircraft shuddering on at least one occasion.
''The captain kept people informed, which was great,'' she said. ''The crew all went around, reassuring people individually about what they needed to do.
''We had another drill, demonstrating oxygen masks and the crouch position. Everybody was listening.''
At one stage, the captain said the aircraft was returning to Suvarnabhumi. It is believed the 747 has four backup systems for hydraulics.
It is not known whether the alert reached the point where the aircraft dumped fuel over the Andaman Sea in preparation for an emergency landing.
Officials from Phuket International Airport met this morning in a debriefing after the emergency. No officials at Thai Airways were available for comment.
Passengers interviewed by Phuketwan
today said that the whole plane applauded when TG217 eventually landed smoothly and safely at Phuket airport.
The airport was in readiness for an emergency, with firetrucks and ambulances waiting on the tarmac.
It is believed several passengers, extremely relieved, congratulated the captain personally after the landing.
Some VIPs were on board, including senior police and local government officials.
''I still love Thai Airways because they told us everything we needed to know on the flight,'' one passenger said.
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