Why AirAsia flight was forced to make emergency landing
The reason why an AirAsia flight from Perth to Bali plunged 20,000 feet in a mid-air emergency in October has finally been revealed.
An investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has discovered what went wrong when the low-budget airline’s Airbus was forced to make an emergency descent with 146 passengers, two flight crew and four cabin crew on board on October 15.
About 20 minutes after takeoff from Perth Airport, the pilots noticed a fault in the pressurisation system. The pilots took manual control of the system and opened safety valves to halt the rapidly climbing cabin pressure.
The flight crew decided it was best to conduct an emergency descent and put on their emergency oxygen masks, before deploying them manually to the passengers and cabin crew.
The pilots requested clearance for an emergency landing to air traffic control at Perth Airport, but “initial communications difficulties” delayed it slightly.
As the plane descended from 10,000 to 330 feet, it fell at a rate of 700m per minute, or 11m per second.
The plane was landed safely at Perth airport about 12.48pm.
No one on board was injured and the plane was not damaged.
Post-flight maintenance tests determined that the source of the fault was a cabin pressure controller.
At the time, passengers criticised the cabin crew for creating a situation of fear and terror.
“The panic was escalated because of the behaviour of staff who were screaming, looked tearful and shocked,” Clare Askew, among the 145 passengers on board, told Perth Now.
“Now, I get it, but we looked to them for reassurance and we didn’t get any, we were more worried because of how panicked they were.”
AirAsia said in a statement that the emergency descent was conducted to “ensure the safety of passengers”.
“We commend our pilots for landing the aircraft safely and complying with standard operating procedure,” AirAsia group head of safety Captain Ling Liong Tien said.
“We are fully committed to the safety of our guests and crew and we will continue to ensure that we adhere to the highest safety standards.”
A final report from the ATSB is expected in May.