An Air France flight from Paris to Los Angeles carrying nearly 500 passengers and 24 crewmembers was forced to make an emergency landing after it lost part of an engine while over the Atlantic Ocean.
Passengers aboard the double-decker Airbus A380 described hearing a loud noise about five hours into the flight which was preceded by a sudden movement, the BBC reported. Both factors caused many passengers to panic amid widespread concern that the airplane was about to go down.
However, the plane safely landed at Goose Bay Airport in Labrador, Canada, about two hours later. Photos and videos shared by relieved passengers on social media showed the extent of the damage, which saw the interior of an engine get exposed and its white covering blown away.
“You heard a loud ‘boom,’ and it was the vibration alone that made me think the engine had failed,” said David Rehmar, a former aircraft mechanic who was a passenger on the flight, adding that for a few moments he thought “we were going to go down.”
It only took less than a minute for Rehmar’s concerns to evaporate after the plane managed to stabilize, with pilots promptly cutting power to the affected engine. The plane flew on three engines before it reached Canada.
Once at the airport, though, passengers were forced to wait for several hours aboard the plane because the small facility was not equipped to handle the number of passengers on such a large jet.
“Nobody’s told us why, but the speculation is they’ve got nowhere to put 500-plus people – that’s probably the whole population of Goose Bay,” passenger John Birkhead told the New York Times.
In a statement, Air France commended its crew for handling “this serious incident perfectly” and confirmed that one of the engines had sustained “serious damage.” An investigation will commence into what caused the incident.