Manila - A Qantas flight en route to Australia from London made an emergency stop in Manila on Friday, and airport authorities discovered a big hole in the Boeing 747-400's fuselage near the right wing.
There were no injuries, but some of the 350 passengers vomited after disembarking, said Manila International Airport Authority deputy manager for operations Octavio Lina.
"There is a big hole on the right side near the wing," he said, adding it was 2.5 to 3 yards (metres) in diameter. The flooring gave way, exposing some of the cargo beneath, he said. The ceiling around the area also collapsed.
MANILA (AFP) - - A Qantas Boeing 747 flying to Melbourne made an emergency landing in Manila on Friday after a dramatic mid-air rupture that left a "gaping hole" in its fuselage, officials and passengers said.
Stunned passengers reported how the jumbo, which originated in London and made a stop in Hong Kong, plunged 20,000 feet (6,000) metres in an "absolutely terrifying" ordeal.
A Qantas spokeswoman said the plane, carrying 346 passengers and 19 crew, diverted to Manila where it was now undergoing inspection on the ground.
"There was a terrific boom, and bits of wood and debris just flew forward into first (class) and the oxygen masks dropped down," June Kane, a passenger from Melbourne, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"We were told that one of the rear doors, a hole had blown into it, but I've since looked at the plane and there's a gigantic gaping hole in the plane.
"It was absolutely terrifying, but I have to say everyone was very calm," she added, speaking from the Philippine capital.
Qantas chief executive officer Geoff Dixon said initial inspections showed the aircraft had sustained a hole in its fuselage, and it was currently being inspected by engineers.
He said the flight crew performed emergency procedures after oxygen masks were deployed and there were no reports of any injuries.
Dixon said the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau and Civil Aviation Safety Authority had been notified.
Manila airport operations officer Ding Lima said the aircraft lost cabin pressure shortly after leaving Hong Kong bound for Melbourne.
"The captain of the aircraft immediately called the (Manila) control tower for an immediate landing," Lima told local radio.
"There is a big hole in the belly of the aircraft near the right wing about three metres in diameter," he added.
Flight QF30, which took off from Hong Kong at 9:00am (0100 GMT), had been due to arrive in Melbourne at 1145 GMT, according to the Qantas website.
Lorena Dimaya, a Qantas assistant supervisor in Manila, said the aircraft had landed safely just after 11:00am local time and the incident had not been "life threatening."
She said the plane had taken off from Hong Kong when it "encountered some technical problems and requested to be diverted to Manila, where it made an emergency landing."
Passenger June Kane said the problem seemed to centre on the baggage compartment of the plane.
"I'm looking at the plane now and on the left-hand side, just forward of the wing, there's a gaping hole from the wing to the underbody," she said.
"It's about two metres by four metres and there's baggage hanging out so you assume that there's a few bags that may have gone missing.
Passengers praised the crew for landing the plane safely.
"We heard a very large bang, the oxygen masks came out. But the crew was very calm and everything was fine," said Phil Rescall, a 40-year-old man from England travelling to Australia for work.
"I think we were all very lucky."
"The crew were terrific, they did a great job," another passenger, Brendan McClements, said. "Everyone gave them a round of applause as we landed."
Saw some video on the news....nasty. Damage on the R/H lower fuselage taking out the fwd wing-body fairing. Its early yet and no news yet on engine failure but is this in a possible engine burst zone if it were to spit a fan blade? Any of you 747 experts can comment?
Longreach, yes you'd be right, its more likely they were in the range of 29,000 to 33,000 depending on the weight. Certainly not 40,000.
N-One... Not an engine failure.
Brian - You are correct, 14,000ft the pax can come off oxygen, and 10,000 the crew can. Oxygen endurance is a bit better than the 10-15 mins that you state on the 744 though.. that figure is more accurate for aircraft that have the individual generators installed (eg 767) rather than the bottles the 744 does.
Oh, BTW, don't believe CNN... they're saying 20,000ft in a matter of seconds, and a cargo door gave out
BBC now have an interview and video footage taken onboard during the approach and landing. All looks fairly calm, although the interviewer was asking how it felt to be on a plane knowing there was something wrong as it plunged thousands of feet...
Judging from the close-up photo's of the hole, it seems that baggage contents (clothes?) is visible. Also the surrounding metal seems to have been 'blown outwards'...possibly indicating an explosive event from within a cargo pallet?
Something exploded in the cargo compartment...I wonder if QANTAS is required to carry a spare main tire in their Fly Away Box?, could be an over inflated spare tire blowing up?
Airlines generally keep the flykit in the aft/bulk area where spare tires are kept in a partial inflated condition, fully inflated once installed. Dead tires will be depressurized before they are even pulled off the axle.
I do, however, think the oxygen bottles are in that area.