Flight of terror from the Bay

Shaanaaz de Jager and Barbara Hollands

TERRIFIED passengers on an SA Express flight from Port Elizabeth to Durban told of their horror when the oxygen masks suddenly dropped down in front of them without warning yesterday.

The plane was forced to make an emergency landing at the East London Airport after the windshield developed a crack, which led to depressurisation of the flight deck and passenger cabin.

Port Elizabeth cyclist Anriette Schoeman, who arrived in Durban yesterday afternoon, jokingly said she needed a “new pair of legs because I lost mine on the plane”.

Schoeman was one of several cyclists on the plane entered in the Nedbank Sani2C cycle event in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The windscreen was cracked so badly you could hardly see through it,” Schoeman said.

However, acting chief pilot Captain Phil Meredith said the passengers and crew were not at risk at any stage of the malfunction.

The CRJ (Canadair Regional Jet) plane was at 28000 feet above sea level when the multi-layered windshield developed the crack.

SA Express chief executive Inati Ntshanga said the flight captain, Karen Essery, had made an emergency descent and diverted to East London Airport.

He said the depressurisation resulted in the deployment of oxygen masks from the passenger service unit.

The passengers left East London on a replacement plane just before 1pm yesterday.

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