Canadian budget airline Swoop has apologized after a plane’s engine caught on fire and forced an emergency landing 10 minutes after takeoff due to a bird strike. The “overwhelming” turn of events took passengers by surprise, with some even writing “goodbye messages” to loved ones in case of the worst.
Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident and the plane went on to land safely.
On the morning of Sept. 10, Swoop flight 312 departed Abbotsford International Airport in British Columbia for Edmonton when the aircraft collided with several geese just a few minutes after lifting off the tarmac, CBC News Canada reported. The Boeing 737 had 176 passengers on board.
"Basically as the aircraft was rolling down the runway, it felt like we hit a bump," passenger Fadhl Abu-Ghanem told CTV News.
"Next thing I know I start seeing flames coming out of the right engine…I also felt very strong heat... I looked around for a flight attendant and couldn’t find one so I just started yelling 'There’s fire, fire, fire right engine, fire right engine!'" Abu-Ghanem continued.
"It was very overwhelming, you don't expect it," the man said. "I started texting my mom saying 'Something's wrong with the airplane. I love you.'"
Passenger Donna-Lee Rayner, too, reported on Facebook that there was "smoke in the cabin and the smell of burning,” prompting her to also “start my goodbye messages in case my phone [was] recovered after we crash.”
"I've been on a plane before where the tire blew out when it was on take-off. That's pretty benign compared to this," passenger Bruce Mason told CTV. "There's smoke, there's fire and you think, 'Well, is this it?'"
The captain and crew were later praised for their calm, quick actions during the chaos, according to the outlet.
Reps for Swoop, meanwhile, confirmed on Twitter that flight 312 went on to land safely back at Abbotsford International Airport, and that all on board deplane without incident.
The plane is now "being inspected" and receiving maintenance.
"Thank you to our captain and crew for ensuring the safety of our travelers,” a rep for the carrier tweeted on Tuesday.
Though reps for the carrier were not immediately available to offer further comment, a statement from Swoop obtained by CBC detailed that airline staffers were working to coordinate new travel options for passengers affected by the bird strike and early landing.
Flight 312 was announced as re-operating as flight 2312, officials said on Twitter.
The low-cost airline is owned by WestJet.