‘Loud bang’: Terrifying mid-air emergency
Frightened passengers donned oxygen masks as their Qantas flight to Canberra was diverted to Melbourne following a depressurisation emergency this morning.
A loud bang could reportedly be heard from the back of the plane before it made a rapid decent to 10,000 feet.
The oxygen masks were deployed but passengers were able to breathe normally once the plane reached a lower altitude.
QF706 had taken off from Adelaide just after 6.10am today, bound for Canberra.
The plane was given priority landing at Melbourne airport where it arrived safely about 8am.
Passengers on board were "fairly stressed," said passenger Vikki Denny, a director of nursing with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
"There were a few people around me who were fairly stressed and a baby screaming, but it was all very well controlled," she told the Adelaide Advertiser.
Ms Denny said some people slept through the bang even despite it being loud.
The pilot on board was calm and "professional" but passengers weren't sure what was happening, she said.
"The whole time we were on descent the emergency intercom was going to remain seated, keep oxygen on, this was an emergency."
Qantas has confirmed the incident was related to an issue with cabin pressurisation.
"Our pilots and cabin crew handled the incident in line with standard operating procedures," the airline said.
"They didn't explain anything as far (as) what was occurring - they said this was an emergency procedure and there was a consistent alert going over the intercom," she told the ABC.
"We would like to thank our customers who followed the crew instructions and remained calm during the diversion."
Passengers have been transferred to other flights while the aircraft is examined by engineers.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said that had started investigating the incident.
"The ATSB can confirm it has been notified of an occurrence this morning where a Boeing 737 on a flight from Adelaide to Canberra diverted to Melbourne due to reported pressurisation issues," it said in a statement.
"The ATSB will gather information into the occurrence before making a decision on whether or not to formally investigate."