'Thank God we're alive': Massive hole rips through plane engine

Passengers onboard a China Eastern Airlines flight were forced to return to Sydney overnight after a massive hole ripped through the side of the plane.

Just one hour after taking off on its journey to China, a terrifying bout of engine failure forced the plane to turn around.

“The moment we took off, the wing to my left just started making a massive amount of noise,” a passenger told 7 News.

Seven News has obtained exclusive pictures of the damage caused to China Eastern Airlines flight 736, which show the gaping hole in the plane’s fan cowl.

Just one hour after taking off on its journey to China, a terrifying bout of engine failure forced the plane to turn around.
When 7 News showed a group of female passengers just how severe the damage to their plane was, they were left struggling for words. Source: 7 News

“We went up in the air and all of a sudden we heard this noise… it kind of smelt like burning,” a relieved passenger said from Sydney Airport.

“Oh, I was scared. Yeah, I was really scared. Our group was terrified.”

Given the announcements were made in Chinese, the small amount of English speaking passengers onboard were left struggling to interpret what happened.

Engineers inspected the damage back at Sydney Airport. Source: 7 News

When 7 News showed a group of female passengers just how severe the damage to their plane was, they were left struggling for words.

“Thank God we’re alive,” one woman said.

Despite the drama, passengers have praised the airline's staff for their professionalism.

Those onboard were put up in nearby accommodation and are expected to fly out on Monday morning.