A Kennewick woman aboard an Allegiant flight forced to make an emergency landing Thursday said the 131 passengers were kept in the dark about what was happening to the plane.
The flight from Pasco to Mesa, Ariz., had to abort its initial landing after an engine failed. It then reportedly circled before making an emergency landing.
“It was a pretty smooth flight up until the landing,” Jessica Stoffel told the Tri-City Herald. “It’s the most terrifying experience that I’ve had in my life.”
The Aviation Herald, a website that tracks commercial aviation reports, said the Allegiant Airbus A319-100, flight G4-175, was on final approach to Mesa-Phoenix Gateway Airport when its crew initiated a maneuver called a “go-around” at about 50 feet because of gusting winds.
It’s the most terrifying experience that I’ve had in my life.
Jessica Stoffel of Kennewick
Stoffel said passengers were never notified to prepare for an emergency, and instead just looked at each other as they listened to a “horrible grinding noise.”
“Nothing was said by the crew to us during the ‘go-around’ or in regards to the engine failure,” said Stoffel, who was traveling with family. “There was a terrible noise going on while we were in the air so we all assumed something had gone terrible wrong at that point. But we all just sat there in terror waiting to see what was going to happen.”
A few seconds after initiating the go-around, the crew reported to air traffic controllers that the plane had lost an engine, the Aviation Herald showed. Pilots were able to climb to 3,000 feet, ultimately landing safely about 17 minutes later.
The Aviation Herald said witnesses on the ground reported the airplane’s right engine surged, emitting “bangs and streaks of flame,” and for a moment appeared unable to maintain height before the crew regained control.
Bits of molten titanium were found in the engine’s exhaust, and there was substantial damage to the blade, the website reported.
Stoffel said it was “extremely unprofessional” of the pilots and flight attendants to keep quiet.
“The crew should come over the loudspeaker and say something to try to calm the customers who are on the flight, because that’s a scary thing and that’s what they’re trained for,” she said.
“To top it all off, after we landed the flight attendant came over the loudspeaker saying, ‘Whew, we made it,’ which again is extremely unsettling after going through something as traumatic as this flight was.”
Stoffel said firetrucks, law enforcement vehicles and maintenance crews were waiting on the tarmac.
“It was pretty scary,” she said. “And after all that ordeal, we really wanted to get off that plane. They handled it horribly.”
Stoffel said they asked employees at the Mesa airport what was going on, but nobody would tell them. They spent the weekend searching websites and blogs until coming upon the Aviation Herald report.
Allegiant acknowledged the flight crew declared an emergency prior to landing because of an issue with one engine. In a statement, it said the airplane was been taken out of service and that maintenance personnel were investigating.
Allegiant offers direct seasonal service between the Tri-Cities Airport at Pasco and Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Mesa/Phoenix.