A Regional Express (REX) flight made an emergency landing at Merimbula Airport last night.
One of Rex’s Saab 340 aircraft was operating flight ZL139, the 18:40 departure from Sydney to Moruya and Merimbula on New South Wales’ south coast.
After departing from Moruya for the last 150 kilometre leg down to Merimbula, the 19 passengers and three crew on-board heard a loud bang coming from the right engine.
REX says the pilots had a cockpit indication and acted to shut down the engine in line with standard procedures.
There were reports that the engine was on fire. This was later downgraded to “sparks seen coming from the engine” but later today, after the aircraft had been inspected, it was revealed there was no evidence of a fire.
Rather than return to Moruya, the plane continued south for forty minutes on one engine, circling a number of times off the coast awaiting the arrival of emergency services at Merimbula Airport.
The plane landed safely at 20:42 without injury to passengers or crew. The two pilots were praised by passengers for the cool and efficient way in which they handled the situation. The mood in the cabin was reportedly tense but calm. One passenger found time to tweet about her horror flight, another kept on doing his crossword – going to show people handle airborne scares in different ways.
The cause of the engine problem is yet to be determined. The Civil Aviation Authority is keeping an eye on REX’s investigation but is yet to get involved.