Maddie Rae Gotcha Day

Monday, March 31, 2008

Flight KA991

Jon's notes on flight KA991 on 3/30/08, DragonAir Airbus 330 from Beijing to Hong Kong yesterday..

- Retta, Jack, Jonah, Maddie Rae, Mammy and Granddude (Retta's parents) and I took off at 1:30p. We heard a loud grinding noise and vibration about 45min into the flight. Smoke filled the cabin with a burning smell, the loudspeaker told us to duck our heads down to avoid inhaling the fumes. Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. After about 20 minutes of wondering what was going on, bumping through the air, and breathing through the oxygen masks, the pilot finally announced a left engine 'stall' and loss of all oil in engine. He said that we would head back to Beijing on only the right engine. Long tense descent. Lots of talk about preparation for the 'Happier Place' and that we were glad 'we were together.' Turbulent and twisting on hard right rudder. Jack was very scared, crying, confused. Jonah put oxygen mask on and fell asleep after asking for a lollipop. Retta and I both trying to calm Jack and not lose it ourselves. I went back and forth in my mind about 5 times trying to decide if this was actually going to be it or not.

- The pilot landed the plane safely. Everyone very relieved to get out. We saw the damaged engine on way out (photo). But were then crammed into buses for trip back to airport. Buses pulled next to gates but would not let us out. Lady faints next to us. Others were very nervous and banging on glass. Security/airport workers made eye contact then passed by and ignored us. DragonAir bus driver would not answer repeated calls/knocks/bangs to let us out and help sick woman. So I started tearing down the bus door. After a total of 45min standing on the bus, the doors opened and passengers exited into airport. Originally two rumored options, one to take late flight at 10pm, the other was to cancel and stay in Beijing. Mass chaos. No info. Soon DragonAir reps disappear with no guarantee of anything. Finally after several hours the airplane meals were handed out. Then another few hours and we had instructions from Cathay Pacific rep. The flight back to HKG took off just before 10p and were home at 3:00am.

- All thanked God for how it ended


Click here to see Chinese news report. It's all in Chinese, but you can see the inside of the plane after it landed and Retta's feet, Nala's tail, and a brief glimpse of Maddie Rae as they descended onto solid ground after landing.

Inside cabin after we landed - smoke gone

View of left engine damage

View after landing - Buses being packed with people on right

Relief after getting out of plane and bus, however still not sure how to get to HK


Nancy said...

I'm so thankful that you all are okay ! How harrowing and awful!

Raegan said...

Ummm....thank God more than half my family wasn't taken down by that plane! It was scary to read it, so I'm sure living it was horrible. I would have been with Jack on that one! Love you and glad you're all safe!

Raegan said...

BTW, did you ever note that blog posts date and time stamp with HK time? I just posted and panicked that I had lost a day and night of sleep!:)

mel said...

The pilots earned their salary that day! So grateful that you are all okay!

Ingrid said...

I was also on the flight and recognise you from your photo (I was the woman handing out the food and drinks and collecting the rubbish - and then in the seats behind you on the follow-up flight!). Hope you are all feeling OK and safely back at home. Ingrid.

Danica said...

Thank God you are all okay!

Some notes for you:

Video of a compressor stall:

Explanation of a compressor stall:

Sorry, I'm too computer illiterate to make the links smaller!

The engine damage would have caused the oil loss, and some of the oil would have got into the "bleed air" system, which supplies pressurization for the cabin. This would have caused the smoke, and the pilots (there's two of them up front!) would have flipped the switch to drop the masks. The oil may have caused a small fire in the engine too.

Good thing they make these aircraft with more than one engine!

Once again, glad that you're all okay.

Mark and Danica.

Gayle said...

My family and I were on the same flight. Like Ingrid, i hope all of you are dealing with it ok. Kudos to the flight crew for getting us safely back. A couple of news reports in English in the South China Morning Post, as well as a better video on what happened in flight is on youtube. we also took pictures upon exiting that show the damage very clearly. fan blades chipped, and center cone had jagged holes in it. one fan blade had a section completely cracked off. i can send you if you want. only 2 out of the 5 oxygen masks in our section of the plane were working, and the aftermath was unbelievably disorganized. their ground staff have no crisis management ability. I've just gotten email from Dragonair apologizing for the incident and offering 400HKD for our inconvenience. i've sent them a letter and email on the incident already. take good care!

Patrick said...

I was on that flight as well.
I shouldn't be too hard to remember. The teenage Westerner boy with extremely long hair panicking on the plane.

I think you looked at me for about two seconds on the flight to Hong Kong at 11 o'clock that night after we landed in Hong Kong.

Rebekah said...

Yikes! I'm glad you guys made through all of that safely!