The lives of at least 342 passengers and 18 crew were saved by the quick thinking Philippine Airlines pilots when they decided to return to Los Angeles after a smoke in one of its engines was detected shortly after they took off Friday morning.
PAL PR-113 flight Capt. Triston Simeon and purser Joanne Marie Dirige decided to immediately execute emergency landing protocols at the Los Angeles International Airport due to the engine problem seen minutes after the plane bound for Manila took off.
“We confirm that our Flight PR-113, which took off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at 11:45 a.m. local time (equivalent to 3:45 a.m. / Manila time / Nov. 22) for a flight to Manila, landed safely at LAX after experiencing a technical problem in one of its engines shortly after take-off,” the PAL management said in a statement.
No one was reported hurt in the incident as all 342 passengers and 18 crew members “are safe and were able to disembark from the airplane using regular airstairs.”
“We greatly appreciate the calmness and patience of our PR113 passengers, who cooperated well with our cabin crew during the flight and the emergency landing. We are extending all necessary assistance and are arranging to rebook them on alternative flights to Manila. In the meantime, our passengers were given meals and hotel accommodation,” PAL stated.
The airline management, meanwhile, recognized and appreciated “the calm professionalism exhibited by our experienced flight and cabin crew, headed by Captain Triston Simeon and Purser Joanne Marie Dirige, in executing the unscheduled landing and taking care of our passengers.”
There were reports, quoting LAX officials, saying there was no active fire or flames visible upon landing.
One of the passengers was also quoted “As soon as it lifted off the ground, we heard four large bangs. The right side, interior side engine blew up and was on fire.” Joel E. Zurbano
Some passengers reportedly screamed, while others cried.
A passenger Robinie Martin said “Mga 20 minutes na kaming nasa himpapawid, tapos nagpa-panic na ang mga stewardess.”
Another passenger shared a video of one of her co-passengers. In the video, flames can be seen spewing near the wing.
“It cannot be denied that they were alarmed by what they saw, but the pilot safely landed the aircraft. In fact, based on the report of the captain, the passengers burst into applause upon landing,” PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said in a TV news program interview.
Villaluna, in her social media account, also posted and lauded the pilot captain “Hats off to you B777 Capt. Tristan Simeon for successfully landing the aircraft at Los Angeles’ Tom Bradley International Airport!”
Villaluna said the flight involved a Boeing 777 aircraft with registry number RP-C7775. She added the flight crew elected to turn back to the airport and make a precautionary emergency landing, and the aircraft landed at 12 noon local time.
“We affirm that safety is our top priority and that Philippine Airlines is fully cooperating with the concerned airport and aviation authorities,” she said.
The airline management said they will conduct a probe to determine what caused the reported black smoke emitted by the engine. It added the aircraft
will be grounded for the next three days pending the result of the investigation.
“Our LAX station is doing its best to accomodate passengers on the next available flights and provide hotel accommodation to those who need. With more than 300 passengers affected, our PAL LAX station team is handling all these,” said Villaluna.