A Qantas flight from Adelaide to Canberra was on March 5 forced to divert and make an emergency landing in Melbourne following a mid-air incident reportedly caused by “pressurisation issues.”
Flight QF706 made it to Melbourne safely just after 8.00am AET after making an emergency diversion due to a “loud bang” heard coming from the rear of the plane, which caused the aircraft to rapidly plunge 15,000 feet (4,572 metres).
Around an hour after take off, passengers were left terrified after the aircraft descended from 25,000 feet (7,620 metres) to 15,000 feet (4,572 metres) in five minutes, according to Flightradar data.
Frightened passengers were forced to wear oxygen masks during the descent but allowed to remove the masks after the aircraft reached a safer altitude.
— Daneloft (@daneloft) March 5, 2019
At 10,000 feet (3,048 metres), passengers were able to breathe more easily as the atmosphere had more oxygen.
The Boeing 737 aircraft landed safely in Melbourne at 8.02am local time.
— Brendan Grainger (@Highflyermel) March 5, 2019
Although passengers were distressed by the loud bang they quickly praised the professionalism and fast reactions of cabin crew and the rest of the staff.
QF706 to Canberra this morning lost cabin pressure, so we put the oxygen masks to good use while diverting to Melbourne. Kudos to the professionalism of the @Qantas crew with the safety and wellbeing of passengers clearly the priority. Not how I expect my morning to go though. pic.twitter.com/swokDvDXPg
— Greg Denehy (@gregdenehy) March 5, 2019
“’QF706 to Canberra this morning lost cabin pressure, so we put the oxygen masks to good use while diverting to Melbourne,” Qantas passenger Greg Denehy said in a Twitter posted dated March 5, 2019. “Kudos to the professionalism of the Qantas crew with the safety and wellbeing of passengers clearly the priority. Not how I expect my morning to go though.”
Royal Flying Doctor Service nursing director Vikki Denny told ABC News she heard the loud bang from where she was sitting on the plane.
There’s been a scare on board a Qantas flight on its way to Canberra this morning. Passengers say oxygen masks dropped from the roof before the aircraft descended rapidly. It was forced to make an emergency landing in Melbourne. Photo credit: @daneloft #QF706 #7News pic.twitter.com/xMeXacqVru
— 7 News Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) March 5, 2019
“It was quite loud where I was sitting but other people slept through it. Another journalist that I recognised on the aircraft didn’t hear it,” Denny said. “He was asleep but he certainly woke fairly quickly and we all had to don the oxygen masks and keep them on. There were a few people around me who were stressed and a baby screaming.”
Despite her previous experience as a flight nurse, she still found the ordeal “a bit disconcerting” as the pilot left passengers in the dark about what had happened for about 10 to 15 minutes.
“They didn’t explain anything as far [as] what was occurring—they said this was an emergency procedure and there was a consistent alert going over the intercom,” she said. “The whole time we were on descent the emergency intercom was going to remain seated, keep oxygen on, this was an emergency.”
Upon arrival, Denny said the Qantas flight passengers were allowed to use the Qantas lounge before they were transferred to alternate flights.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating the incident.
“ATSB can confirm it has been notified of an occurrence this morning where a Boeing 737 on a flight from Adelaide to Canberra diverted to Melbourne due to reported pressurisation issues,” ATSB said in a written statement. “ATSB will gather information into the occurrence before making a decision on whether or not to formally investigate.”
Qantas claimed it has not heard of any injuries caused by the plane’s rapid descent.
A company spokesperson said engineers are inspecting the plane in Melbourne to try to determine what exactly the fault was, and confirmed the incident was caused by a pressurisation issue.
“Our pilots and cabin crew handled the incident in line with standard operating procedures,” the spokesperson said.