Belfast Telegraph

Belfast businessman tells how passengers feared for their lives after Flybe engine catches fire mid-air

By Gary Grattan

A Belfast businessman has told passengers on a routine flight feared for their lives after one of the plane's engines caught fire.

Quintin Oliver was flying back to Belfast from a business trip to Glasgow in the FlyBe Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 when the drama unfolded last night.

"We were just sitting there thinking, is the engine going to blow up? is there a risk of fire? Are we going to land safely?

"Some people were clearly very scared, including me. Some people were just talking, talking, talking. Some people were trying to reassure others.

"Some people were praying. Some people were reaching for their mobile phones to make what they may have believed could be their last phone calls.

"Some people were moved to banter - gallows humour was their way of dealing with it," he said.

Mr Oliver was full of praise for the crew of the aircraft - who despite being "clearly very scared themselves," handled the situation superbly.

However, he was critical of the response once they landed at Belfast International Airport, after being re-directed there from their intended arrival destination - George Best City Airport.

"I work in political communications and, whilst the actions of the captain and crew and the emergency services was brilliant, I'm afraid there was not a five-star communications experience at the airport.

"It took three-and-a-quarter hours for me to leave the airport with my bag and car keys. There was a lack of information. The communications plan and services on the ground could've been better and I hope they are improved for those who might have to experience this kind of thing in the future," he added.

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