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Qantas engine explosion doesn’t scare Belton pair

PUBLISHED: 15:40 26 November 2010

Chris and Gillian Barford, who were on board the fateful Qantas flight

Chris and Gillian Barford, who were on board the fateful Qantas flight

Archant

IT was a mid-air malfunction that gained global attention and could have resulted in large-scale loss of life.

Firefighters surround a Qantas passenger plane which made an emergency landing in Singapore's Changi International Airport  after having engine problems on Thursday Nov. 4, 2010 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E); ES 16.11.10

But for one Belton couple off to see family on the other side of the world, the explosion of an engine on board a superjumbo seemed like no big deal at all.

Chris and Gillian Barford, who returned to Britain on Wednesday, were two of the 430 passengers on board the Qantas flight QF32 leaving Singapore that had to make an emergency landing earlier this month.

The 64-year-old said: “We had a lovely landing and there was no panic but when we got out of the plane we saw it was surrounded by fire engines and policemen.

“It wasn’t until we got to the terminal building that we saw it on the TV – we even spotted ourselves on BBC World news.”

The couple had taken the 9.30am flight on November 4 from Singapore to Australia to see Chris’ sister Sandra and nephew Jared. It was just 15 minutes after leaving that they heard a “loud bang”, and Chris saw smoke coming out of the engine on an in-flight TV relaying live pictures of the huge jet.

“I then looked outside the cabin window and saw a bit of metal about a foot in length coming up from the wing, but there wasn’t much of a reaction and everyone remained calm.”

Chris knew there were four engines, and felt one being in trouble was not such an issue. What he did not know was the metal shrapnel he could see had cut cables in the wing, disabling equipment throughout the aircraft and puncturing fuel tanks.

Reassured by the words of pilot and team on board, the plane “circled for about three hours, before we came in and landed perfectly. At that point there was a round of applause – we were unaware two tyres had burst when we landed!”

After an hour’s wait they left the plane, and entered a media storm, but after giving interviews and a stay in a nearby hotel it was time to carry on their journey the next day.

Praising the actions of the pilot and his team, who he said did a “terrific job” he added: “We caught the 10.30am the next day to Sydney with no problems. Looking back, I feel fortunate, because it wasn’t until I saw the news and another pilot saying it was a miracle the plane stayed up that I realised how serious things really were.”

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