The terrifying 45 minutes onboard Qantas

MANILA, Philippines—From a stopover in Hong Kong, Qantas Airways flight QF-30 is roughly an hour into its mid-morning flight to Melbourne and the cabin crew is starting breakfast service to some 346 passengers on Friday morning.

Then, as the plane cruises at 29,000 feet, there is a sudden loud noise.

Here is a brief chronology of the dramatic mid-air mishap:

10:30 a.m. An unexplained bang leaves a gaping hole on the jumbo jet’s right side, depressurizing the cabin mid-flight. Then a roughly 10-minute rollercoaster ride follows for the 365 passengers and crew onboard the Melbourne-bound plane.

10:40 a.m. While strapped to a seat 10 rows away from where debris gusts through, passenger Marina Scaffidi feels the plane re-stabilizing. The pilot announces there has been depressurization and that the flight is seeking shelter in Manila.

11:05 a.m. At the Manila Control Tower, air traffic control receives flight QF-30 pilot Captain John Bartels’ distress call and request for an emergency landing. The plane is still some 160 miles (257.5 kilometers) away from Manila.

The tower says the pilot asked for the runway to be completely vacated as he will be stopping readily upon landing, foregoing the usual taxiing.

11:15 a.m. The plane lands safely at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and parks at the old Manila terminal to deboard shaken passengers. No one is hurt.

“It was a very good landing. And the passengers applauded quite loudly,” says Scaffidi.

Tarra V. Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

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