AirAsia engine malfunction prompts expert warning on booking budget air travel

AirAsia engine malfunction prompts expert warning on booking budget air travel

AirAsia engine malfunction prompts expert warning on booking budget air travel

Updated 27 June 2017, 11:25 AEST

Travellers should think twice before booking budget airline flights says an expert, who urges people to consider if their life is worth a $200 saving on ticket prices.

An aviation expert is urging Australians to think twice before flying with budget airlines after an AirAsia X flight bound for Malaysia was forced to return to Perth due to an engine failure.

Key points:

  • Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman Neil Hansford says travellers must ask "is my life worth $200?"
  • Hansford criticises AirAsia pilot for asking passengers to pray
  • AirAsia X still investigating incident on flight bound for Malaysia that had to turn around

Passengers on the Sunday flight reported hearing a loud explosion before the Airbus A330 began to shudder, with some saying the pilot urged them to pray they would return safely.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed it was investigating "an engine malfunction" which caused "moderate airframe vibration".

Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman and aviation expert Neil Hansford said people must take responsibility for their own safety when flying and visit airline ratings websites before booking.

"Australians regrettably think with their pocket and not their head," Mr Hansford said.

"Because if you go to the trouble of working out whether a carrier's got a record or not you would look at AirAsia and you would say 'well why would I fly with that carrier who can't get seven stars?'

"If the difference in the fare was $200, is my life worth $200?"

Despite landing the plane safely, Mr Hansford said the alleged behaviour of the pilot sounded anything but professional.

"The pilot's responsibility is to make all of the passengers feel comfortable and let them know that he's in command," he said.

"Now in asking people to pray, that's almost saying that he's passing the responsibility to some other person that's not on the plane."

Mr Hansford also said the pilot should have considered diverting to Western Australia's Learmonth airbase, rather than returning to Perth.

A replacement plane flew stranded passengers to Kuala Lumpur late on Sunday night.

AirAsia passengers undeterred by drama

On Monday morning, other AirAsia ticket holders at Perth airport were preparing to make similar journeys, seemingly undeterred by Sunday's drama.

"It won't happen two days in a row will it? I hope not, but I'm a Catholic and I can pray," joked AirAsia passenger Joe Kenney.

In 2014, an AirAsia plane crashed during a flight between Indonesia and Singapore.

All 162 passengers and crew died.

The plane made 78 trips between Perth and Bali with a mechanical fault that was not fixed in the 12 months leading up to the tragedy.

AirAsia defends safety record

Meanwhile, AirAsia X has issued a fresh statement about Sunday's incident, saying it was investigating the cause "together with our engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce" and was cooperating with aviation authorities.

"We would like to stress that AirAsia Group has always strictly followed the maintenance programme prescribed by our manufacturers," the company said.

"We have also complied with all regulations and requirements as set forth by every country where the airline operates, including Australia.

"In Australia, AirAsia Group has regularly passed safety and security audits conducted by the local aviation authorities.

"AirAsia Group has also initiated the process of undergoing voluntary IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) auditing for all airlines within the group, including AirAsia X Malaysia, AirAsia X Indonesia and AirAsia Indonesia, with AirAsia X Malaysia receiving two IOSA audit certificates in 2015 and 2016.

"AirAsia remains committed to meeting all safety and security requirements in all the countries that we operate in."

The ATSB said a report on the incident would be released within several months.