Dramatic passenger video shows start of Queenstown engine fire

by Peter Newport - Jun 18, 2024

A video recorded by a passenger on yesterday's Virgin Australia flight out of Queenstown clearly shows the moment the engine burst into flames.

The video also shows how the flight crew managed to keep the aircraft climbing and under control while they handled the emergency.

Experts are now united in thinking the most likely cause of the engine failure and fire was a bird being sucked into the engine. The plane managed to fly to Invercargill and land safely on one engine.

The person who posted the video added this commnet:

"Bird strike happens just after the aircraft rotates at 0:30. After an initial panic, passengers calmed one other as we waited for info on what happened and where we were going. We now find ourselves in Invercargill, checked-in and safe, tomorrow we will have another attempt at getting to Melbourne (likely via Brisbane).

"Credit to the pilots who managed to get our stricken plane down on one engine, as well as the cabin crew who kept the aircraft secure as we made the emergency landing. Professional service as always!"

The Queenstown Airport Corporation has released a statement today detailing how the risk of bird strike is handled locally.

"Bird strikes are a known risk to aviation around the world and airports put considerable effort into mitigating this risk.

"The Civil Aviation Authority records the incident rate for bird strikes at Queenstown Airport as ‘low’.

"Bird activity varies according to the season and migratory patterns. The primary species of concern at Queenstown are oyster catchers and plovers, along with smaller birds such as finches, starlings, and sparrows.

"The Airport Emergency Service (AES) team is responsible for ongoing wildlife hazard management at ZQN and monitors bird activity around the airport closely.

"A range of measures are used to deter birds from settling on the airfield and surrounds. These include mowing grass to keep it low and less attractive to birds, spraying to reduce food sources, and use gas cannons, acoustic machines, lasers, and pyrotechnics to scare birds away.

"We also work with our neighbours to reduce the likelihood of birds settling nearby.

"Airfield inspections are conducted by ZQN staff multiple times each day.

"An inspection was completed minutes before Virgin Australia flight VA148 departed on 17 June and no birds were detected on the airfield at that time.

"If a pilot suspects a bird strike has occurred, this is immediately reported to the Airways control tower, which in turn advises the AES team on duty, and a runway inspection is immediately carried out."


Advertise with Crux Advertise with Crux