Changi Airport runway reopens after Air China plane makes emergency landing due to engine fire
An Air China flight from Chengdu, in Sichuan province, made an emergency landing in Singapore on Sunday afternoon after its left engine caught fire.
The incident resulted in a runway being closed for almost three hours, which caused delays in flights arriving at and leaving Changi Airport.
Nine passengers on the Air China flight sustained minor injuries related to smoke inhalation and abrasions during evacuation, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement.
“They have since been attended to. Air China and the Changi Airport Group (CAG) are providing assistance to all passengers and crew,” it added.
There were 146 passengers and nine crew on board the plane, which flew from Tianfu International Airport at 11.05am and landed at Changi’s Runway 3 at around 4.15pm.
CAAS said the runway was temporarily closed, and it reopened at 7.02pm, following checks. One aircraft was diverted to Batam, Indonesia, during the runway’s closure, the statement added.
The disabled aircraft was towed away at about 6pm.
Flight CA403 had reported smoke in its forward cargo hold and lavatory while on its way to Changi Airport, declared an emergency and requested priority landing at about 3.59pm.
A passenger, who wanted to be known only as Song, told The Straits Times that the fire started in the last 40 minutes of the flight.
The 15-year-old Chinese student, who had gone home during the September school holidays, said she did not know the engine was on fire at first but detected a pungent smell – like rubber mixed with petrol.
“But I didn’t panic too much because the plane ride was not very bumpy,” said Song, adding that she was accompanied by her uncle.
“The cabin crew instructed us to cover our mouth and nose with our clothes and bend forward. Everyone was quite compliant, with some passengers taking pictures.”
After landing, Song said they were ferried to an area to fill up some forms and wait for their luggage.
In one video posted on social media, smoke can be seen engulfing the economy cabin, while an air stewardess is heard giving instructions to the passengers on their next steps.
Passengers appear to be calm as they bend forward.
In another video, passengers are seen sliding down an emergency slide, coughing and running away from the plane. A man evacuates with his hand luggage, prompting netizens on Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu to call him out for doing so.
One user commented: “If his luggage hits the other passengers, I wonder if he can afford to compensate them? Will his luggage be worth more than a person’s life?”
In the same video, an AES fire engine can be seen arriving on the scene.
One passenger commented on social media that the fire occurred during the plane’s descent. “Everyone was covering their nose and mouth with a wet towel while struggling to breathe,” she said.
“At that moment, I started having flashbacks about the past and I thought my life was going to be over. Thankfully, the plane made an emergency landing, and we were able to escape alive.”
An ST reader who was stuck on a Beijing-bound flight said that the pilot informed passengers at about 6pm that the affected plane had been towed away, and airport staff were cleaning the runway.
The Transport Safety Investigation Bureau is investigating the incident and has contacted its Chinese counterpart, which will assist with the investigation, CAAS said.
According to Flightradar24.com, the aircraft is an A320neo and registered as B-305J.
ST has contacted CAG and CAAS for more information on how many flights were affected.