Flaps Failure Causes Thomson Flight to Make Harrowing High-Speed Landing
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
The last thing an air passenger sitting next to an emergency exit wants to hear from a flight attendant just before landing is, “You may need to open this but do not open it if the wing is on fire.”
But that’s exactly what Wales native Sarah Rees was told while on a Thomson Airways flight with 200 passengers aboard that developed a landing flaps problem while on approach to Cardiff, Wales from Tenerife, WalesOnline reported.
Fully-functioning landing flaps are important because, as explained by WalesOnline, they “reduce the speed at which a plane can be safely flown and shorten landing distances.”
Rees first noticed something was amiss when, as she told WalesOnline, “We were coming down to land and getting lower and lower when we suddenly ascended again … the pilot came on the loudspeaker and explained what was going on.”
The 46-year-old passenger, traveling with 48-year-old husband Tony, said the pilot then announced he had contacted Cardiff to say he would be conducting an emergency landing.
“This is not a drill. Prepare for an emergency landing,” the pilot told the passengers, according to Rees. “It was awful,” she said to WalesOnline, regarding the bone-chilling announcement. “There was a very real chance of dying.”
While the pilot circled for 20 minutes to burn fuel, Rees told WalesOnline that flight attendants had passengers remove shoes and glasses. Pregnant women were moved to safer seats. And Rees was given her heart-stopping emergency exit instructions.
She then painted a picture of a quiet cabin with everyone in the brace position. Parents were making sure their kids were braced properly, many were holding hands and a lot were crying, she said to WalesOnline.
“There was no way to slow the plane down. I was terrified,” she commented.
The plane landed “hard and fast,” as Rees described it to WalesOnline. The aircraft halted with about 20 meters (65 feet) of runway to spare.
“Everyone cheered the pilot when we came to stop,” Rees said.
Rees spoke of a subdued scene in the airport afterwards. “Usually there is a lot of pushing and shoving in airports,” she said to WalesOnline.
“But strangers were talking to each other and people were hugging. One lady fainted.”
No explanation was given to the harried fliers as to why the flaps had failed, Rees pointed out.
“Thomson Airways can confirm that flight TOM6555 travelling from Tenerife to Cardiff experienced a technical issue,” a spokesperson said to WalesOnline.
“Following standard procedure, Cardiff air traffic control contacted the emergency services to meet the flight. The aircraft landed safely and all passengers disembarked the flight normally. The safety of our customers and crew is of paramount importance and we would like to reassure customers that this type of situation is extremely rare.”
More by Michael Isenbek
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