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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Smoke forces Qatar Airways plane to make emergency landing in Doha

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airbus

A Qatar Airways Airbus 330 flight to London on Sunday was forced to turn around 10 minutes into its journey and performed an emergency landing at Doha International Airport.

According to passengers, the flight was grounded after a burning smell and smoke were detected in the cabin.

The national carrier tweeted about a “technical delay” facing the aircraft a few hours after its emergency landing:

A day later, it issued this statement, calling the incident “a minor technical issue”:

“On Sunday April 20, Qatar Airways flight QR001 en route to London Heathrow, returned to Doha after the crew reported a minor technical issue shortly after take-off from Doha International Airport. The airline transferred all passengers to another aircraft and accommodated them in an alternate flight after a four-hour delay.”

Passengers’ account

Speaking to Doha News, passengers on board QR flight 001 said that the plane took off smoothly, but just after the seat-belt sign had been switched off – roughly 10 minutes into the journey – they and crew members began to smell something burning.

Doha resident Philippine de Croutte said:

“There was a very very very strong smell of burning (the same smell as plastic burning) and a smell of smoke that was very strong, and everyone started to ask questions and panic and speak loudly.

Then the cabin crew ran very fast up the aisle touching every luggage cabin above our heads to feel if there was any heat, and they had fire extinguishers in their hands.”

Another passenger, Katya Chong, who had connected in Doha after a flight from the Maldives, told Doha News that she saw smoke:

“Very soon after take off, this smell started drifting in. We looked around, stood up from our seats and the middle of the plane was starting to fill with smoke and the smell was electrical/wiring. My husband immediately started saying in a loud voice ‘stewardess, smoke.’ Other people also started yelling ‘smoke’.”

Chong said that some of the cabin crew donned smoke hoods, told passengers to stay seated and not to panic.

“They (the cabin crew) started checking and instructing the ones at the emergency exits as to what to do,” she said. “One of them said to a passenger in row 43 ‘if I die, make sure you open that door’.”

The crew’s checks detected no obvious source of fire.

Then, the aircraft’s captain told the passengers that the plane would be returning immediately to Doha to make an emergency landing.

Distress

ground

By this point, the burning smell and smoke had begun to dissipate, and no injuries occurred, but the passengers were still very distressed, according to de Croutte:

“People were really panicking and the crew were trying to calm everyone. Everyone was holding hands with everyone. It was really frightening, many were crying.”

On landing, the aircraft was met by fire trucks, which then surrounded the plane, Chong said.

She continued:

“We were held on the plane for a good 10 minutes after landing whilst the fire and rescue did their thing, and some ground crews got on board, but we were then allowed out. There were a couple of people that needed assistance with oxygen and support to get out, but most left fine and without panicking.”

Upon disembarking, the passengers were returned to the terminal, where they were told the airline was arranging another aircraft to take them to London. They were also given food vouchers.

De Croutte told us she felt that the passengers should have been given more information at this point.

“It was very unacceptable – no explanations were given to us. I refused to get back onto another plane and got to change my ticket to Tuesday instead (a few people did the same as me.) I went to baggage services to request my suitcase. It took them six hours for them to find those. It was ridiculous.”

Chong, meanwhile, said she was fairly happy with the way the emergency had been handled.

“It took them about five hours to get another aircraft, board us all and the luggage and fly out  – which was a good turnaround I thought – but we were at their base.”

Chong tweeted about her experience after she landed in London last night:

Were you on the flight? Thoughts?

Story updated 22nd of April with statement from Qatar Airways

30 COMMENTS

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Firas Zirie
7 years ago

What is Miss Decroutte complaining about as “unacceptable”? Smoke detected in cabin > plane immediately turned back for emergency landing > passengers boarded onto another plane, end of story. A simplification perhaps, and by no means is it an attempt to underestimate the stress the passengers and crew had to go through.

If she refused to get on the other plane because of her own superstitions, that’s her choice I suppose. But the airline is not obliged to entertain them at all.

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
7 years ago
Reply to  Firas Zirie

I agree. It’s not like they decided to put her back on the same plane. What did she want? The Investigator’s report of what happened and free business class tickets for life? I know what happened- there was smoke, the plane turned around, and they were able to secure a new plane within 6 hours. I think she is just complaining to complain.

Philippine
Philippine
7 years ago

You know what happened, that’s great we’re you on a plane with people praying they weren’t going to die? Explanations, that’s what we want. I would not wish anything of such to happen to you but perhaps to realize it’s the most frightening thing ever.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago

I understand from the article that the situation was relatively well managed by Qatar Airways. Good for them.

Ali
Ali
7 years ago

Ms. Chong should be thankful that this story will not become part of Nat Geo Air Crash Investigation.

airlifter
airlifter
7 years ago

Kudos to the crew for handling the situation. From the radar track history, the crew turn-back to Doha was an excellent decision and obviously well executed. You can view the radar track here:
http://www.flightradar24.com/2014-04-20/10:02/12x/QTR1/32751be
(zoom in to watch the turn-back)
The cabin crew’s remark to the passenger was obviously not a good choice of words, but remember that English is not the primary language for many crew, and s/he was likely under a lot of stress at that particular moment.
Of course there are going to be inconveniences when something like this happens… delayed connections, luggage not immediately available, etc.
The passengers should quit whining and congratulate the crew (and the airline) on handling the incident in such a professional manner.

Andrew
Andrew
7 years ago
Reply to  airlifter

QR001, according to the Qatar Airways website, is an A340, not an A330 (although it does show as an A330 on your link about airlifter).

No QA A330 has row 43 as an exit aisle row, and on an A340, row 42 is the exit.

Therefore the crew would have briefed the passengers in row 42 about how to operate the emergency exit, and after this, a passenger in this row turned to a passenger in the row behind and said ‘if I die, make sure you open that door’.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
7 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

Hi, just confirming that QR001 yesterday was operated using an A330. The seat row number may have been confused by the passenger, but I can confirm that this is something she personally overheard and saw – as you can see, as we have quoted her directly.

Andrew
Andrew
7 years ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

Well if the passenger is getting confused about the row number, it does erode my trust in their statement just a bit.

Since it was an A330, registration A7-AEA, can an aviation expert comment on whether this particular aircraft has had a typical amount of servicing:
http://www.theqatarsource.com/tag/a7-aea/

The same plane took off at around 9:20pm to make a return trip to Bangladesh, and is now currently en route to London – fingers crossed no more issues!

Pete
Pete
7 years ago

It’s quite clear to me that the complaints were about the lack of communication about what happened. Surely the very least that passengers should get is an explanation of what happened, even if all the details are not known.

Laibach
Laibach
7 years ago
Reply to  Pete

How much would an announcement such as: “…cabin crew detected smoke in the passenger section and the pilot made a decision to return to Doha as a precaution, we have landed safely, further information to be provided in due course, thank you for choosing QA…” have helped?

Pete
Pete
7 years ago
Reply to  Laibach

Or how about: We understand that you all had a very traumatic experience but we assure you that the crew followed all safety procedures and that, as a result, neither you nor the aircraft was in any imminent danger. We are unsure of the cause or exact location of the origin of the smoke. As more information becomes available we will communicate with each of you via email. If anyone has any concerns or need any assistance they should call Mr/Mrs ***********.

It’s all about communication and making people feel that they matter…not rocket science and it avoids your business being dissed on social media.

Philippine
Philippine
7 years ago

No entertainment was requested, just some simple explanations and information. The minimum passengers would like considering anything could have happen, which thank god it didn’t but it’s the minimum in such a situation.

Firas Zirie
7 years ago
Reply to  Philippine

Keep in mind that the airline itself probably had about as much information as you did. Smoke in the cabin, no immediate cause found. Investigations take time.

In the mean time, it seems like they accommodated you as best as they could. Especially given the congestion at DIA.

Laibach
Laibach
7 years ago

I don’t know what else the crew could have done to please Ms. de Croutte. What makes her think that the crew had all the answers? Also, the plane just took off to London and had to either jettison lots of fuel, which takes time, or the pilot had to land a very heavy aircraft. Google says that a fuel dump system is a customer-specified option, so perhaps someone could enlighten us on the QR A330 specs and emergency landing procedures. Either way, the crew seems to have done an excellent job.

Philippine
Philippine
7 years ago
Reply to  Laibach

To please? I apologise I do not seem to have said we requested answers from the crew, but from QA once we had landed and were all safe. And it’s not just myself but a plane full of people but I’m the only one that said that I thought about the situation right now. I do not have enough knowledge about such situations to criticise, I am giving my honest thoughts and once again I am not criticising the crew but Qatar Airways and it’s poor management. Thanks.

Laibach
Laibach
7 years ago
Reply to  Philippine

I am not convinced that QR, or anyone for that matter, could have had all the answers you were looking for right after landing. And if they prematurely gave you the wrong/incomplete information, there would have been many more complaints, right? I think that you should thank God and the QR crew for safely landing back in Doha, instead of complaining about baggage delays after refusing to get on the alternate flight offered. In your opinion, which airline would have handled such a situation better, and how? A British or American airline that are paranoid about potential lawsuits? Thanks

Philippine
Philippine
7 years ago
Reply to  Laibach

It’s very easy to criticize when you’re on the other side of this, happily keep thinking what you’re thinking right now as that’s all that’s seems important to you. I’ve thanked God and that’s for me to worry. We will never get more information because that’s how it works here let’s face it. A crew member should not have to tell a passenger the things she said. If you want to keep criticizing my feelings then keep going but there’s no point as you clearly don’t want to or can’t understand my point of view.

Balach Tahir
Balach Tahir
7 years ago
Reply to  Philippine

Hey, I’ve read the article, and just read your feedback. I appreciate the way you feel, but also recognise that the experience might have left you too traumatised to see that Decroutte actually is being a whiner. I’m sorry you got terribly frightened midair, but such things happen. Everybody officially handled the situation perfectly; in fact, in an exemplary fashion.

Additionally, a crew member should have to tell the passengers what they should do in the occasion the crew member is incapacitated – flight emergency protocol. They don’t tell you about oxygen and emergency doors for the fun of it at the beginning of every flight either — that too is flight protocol.
I wish you the best in recovering from the overwhelming trauma you clearly have gone through. Best wishes, Tahir Balach.

johnny wang
johnny wang
7 years ago

Looks like a situation very well handled by the crew. If only we took some time to think what they must have been going through while some of the passengers were busy grumbling and trying to find faults even after the aircraft had come to a safe landing

AEC
AEC
7 years ago

Held on a smoking plane for 10 minutes after landing? I would have thought that was the last thing you would have wanted to do?

AEC
AEC
7 years ago
Reply to  AEC

Mind you it was probably a bit hot outside too.

Vanessa
Vanessa
7 years ago
Reply to  AEC

I was wondering about that too. Seems like everyone should have gotten off asap.

Laibach
Laibach
7 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

I think that they have to follow very strict safety procedures in cases like that>

AEC
AEC
7 years ago
Reply to  Laibach

I would assume once on the ground the captain would be the one making the decision as to whether evacuate or not.

Amber
Amber
7 years ago

This is just what I needed to read before booking my flight for the summer. If I was on that plane they would have to give me a change of clothes.

KK
KK
7 years ago

Suppose there was a crash, how would QA deal with ?

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago

Everything was fine until they offered the food vouchers.

Shabina921
Shabina921
7 years ago

Closing this thread – too many personal attacks.

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