A Kuala Lumpur-bound AirAsia X flight had to double back to its Australian origin Sunday after an apparent engine malfunction passengers called “terrifying” but airline officials later branded a “technical issue.”
The 359 passengers aboard flight D7237 departed Perth, Australia just before 7 a.m. local time, an AirAsia X Berhad spokesperson confirmed in a statement to the Daily News.
But the aircraft began shaking mid-flight — prompting the crew to turn the plane around roughly 90 minutes in, 24-year-old passenger Brenton Atkinson told Australia’s ABC News.
“It was essentially the engine seized up I think, that’s what they told us anyway,” he said. “It was literally like you were sitting on top of a washing machine … We could see the engine out the window which was really shaken on the wing.”
The flight crew advised passengers to “say a prayer,” passenger Sophie Nicolas told the outlet.
“I was crying a lot, a lot of people were crying, trying to call their mums and stuff but we couldn’t really do anything just wait and trust the captain,” she said. “He delivered us home safely, which is amazing; everybody burst into applause when we landed.”
Flyer Dave Parry said the crew instructed passengers to brace for impact upon landing.
“There was sort of a bang, and you could see the cabin crew were startled, and then a shudder started straight away, and I had a sense the plane was turning around,” he told ABC.
Unsettling video footage posted to social media showed seats visibly and loudly rattling.
The ordeal was related to an engine issue, a Perth Airport spokesperson confirmed to CNN.
The flight landed back at Perth Airport by 10 a.m., the AirAsia X Berhad rep told The News, adding that passengers were redirected onto alternate flights.
“Our engineers are taking the precautionary steps to check the aircraft,” the rep said. “The safety of our guests is our utmost priority.”