Loud bang a shock for plane passengers
Passengers from the Barrow Island flight. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

The 92 fly-in, fly-out workers were just settling in for their two-hour flight to Barrow Island when a loud bang alerted them that something had gone terribly wrong.

Three minutes into the flight, shouts could be heard around the plane as huge sparks - which one passenger compared to fireworks - were seen flying out the back of the Cobham Aviation Avro RJ's No.2 engine.

Shocked passengers alerted crew members who rushed to the cockpit and told the pilot, who moved quickly to shut the engine down and extinguish the sparks before turning the plane around and landing back at Perth Airport.

Plane emergency 'could have ended like Concorde

Once they were back on the ground, most passengers appeared calm, but admitted to moments of panic during those frantic few minutes.

Passenger Jason Grimmett was seated right beside the engine when he heard a "loud bang".

"Something came out of the engine house, spewing fuel out and it ignited, there was a bit of panic on the plane but the pilot was very quick to shut everything down," he said.

"There was one guy who was panicking quite badly. I felt they were in control of the situation, they still had three engines."

Passenger Brad McCoy used his mobile phone to film huge sparks shooting from the engine.

Fellow Chevron worker Anthony Galati said the crew members remained calm and he praised the actions of the pilot.

"The flight attendants were just saying, calm down, relax, that was pretty much it," he said.

"I was terrified, pretty much, but I've got over it now. I don't know what everyone is going to do."

One passenger, who did not want to be identified, said just minutes after the plane took off he noticed "lots of fireworks" out the window.

"I was sitting right next to it, on a window seat.

Firefighters examine the engine of the Cobham Aviation plane. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

"The motor was on fire, they put it out quickly and we landed again," he said.

"It was like a sparkler - a big one. There were a few people quite shaken up about it."

Most passengers remained calm during the scare, which Mr Grimmett said was because of the nature of their jobs.

"The sort of training we have to do for the job . . . I've seen worse. (But) a few of us don't want to go back out a third time," he said.

Another passenger said some passengers were visibly upset.

"It was just a couple of minutes after take-off," he said.

"You don't expect it, so your brain takes a minute to register what's going on.

"I was too busy reading a magazine and next thing you hear the plane is on fire. The people closest to (the engine) were pretty upset, but most were calm."

The passengers had had to get off another plane earlier in the day because of an apparent fault.

So for some, the thought of getting on a third plane was too much. "I'm out of here, twice is enough. I'll be back tomorrow morning," one man said as he left the terminal.

The incident comes more than three years after a Cobham jet carrying 58 passengers and crew had to make an emergency landing after an engine failed en route to the Cocos Islands.

On October 20, 2009, the Cobham Aviation Services RJ70 took off from Christmas Island at 4.15pm and reached 1500m when there was a loud bang and the plane shuddered.

The pilots shut down the engine immediately and returned to Christmas Island.

One passenger later told _The West Australian _ there were "screams as the plane yawed and shuddered".

"The hostess came down, saw flames and ran up to the cockpit," he said.

"The pilot came down for a look, too.

"We could feel the heat through the fuselage."

The West Australian

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