A Regional Express passenger plane carrying 22 people has made an emergency landing on the NSW south coast after a mechanical fault in one of its engines.
The disruption occurred shortly after Flight ZL139, operating on the Sydney-Merimbula route, took off from Moruya on the NSW far south coast, just before 8pm on Thursday.
The plane continued flying south to Merimbula Airport and circled several times off the coast above Merimbula, before emergency services arrived at the airport.
The aircraft landed safely at 8.42pm.
None of the 19 passengers and three crew were injured in the incident.
Three cheers for the pilot
Merimbula resident Bill Deveril was on board the flight and said the incident had been well handled.
“There was a loud bang,” Mr Deveril said.
“I could see out and noticed the propeller was not going around, but the plane just flew exactly as it flew the day before when it went to Sydney with two engines.”
He said no one had panicked inside the cabin.
“I don’t think people really knew that the motor was out.
“Being dark, I didn’t take much notice because I was doing a crossword.”
“The pilots did a great a great job.
“When the plane stopped, I called for three cheers.”
In a statement to the ABC, Regional Express said the flight experienced a “cockpit indication” with the aircraft’s right engine en route to Merimbula.
“In accordance with company standard operating procedures, the pilots carried out the prescribed procedures and landed safely and without further incident.”
The company said the safety regulator had been notified and given all available information.
Initial reports of fire discounted
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is monitoring the incident but will take no action at this stage.
Initial reports suggested a fire had broken out from the engine.
But CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson said an update from the airline following an inspection showed that was not the case.
“Information is still coming through, but there wasn’t any evidence of a fire in the engine when it was looked at on the ground,” Mr Gibson said.
“But there was obviously a mechanical problem with the engine.
“Now that could have led to sparks coming out the back of the engine, which people in the cabin of the aircraft may have interpreted as a fire.”
The incident came after a recent CASA probe into safety at Regional Express.