‘Our hearts stopped.’ FlySafair flight forced to turn back after engine trouble

Business Insider SA
(Facebook, FlySafair)
(Facebook, FlySafair)


  • A FlySafair flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town was forced to turn back after “a performance issue” with one of its engines.
  • Technical investigations are still underway into the engine problem.
  • Two passengers declined to get back onto another plane.  
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A Christmas Day flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town was forced to return an hour after take-off due to engine trouble.

FlySafair’s flight FA113 took off from Johannesburg OR Tambo airport at 14:21 on Friday.

“Shortly after the flight took off the crew were alerted to a performance issue on the right engine,” FlySafair chief marketing officer Kirby Gordon told Business Insider SA.

“The crew immediately implemented all required procedures, did the necessary checks and decided to initiate a controlled return to Johannesburg. Passengers were briefed that there was a concern regarding the engine, that the aircraft would be returning to Johannesburg and that full safety protocols would be observed with regard to the response vehicles etc.”

The plane landed back in Johannesburg an hour after its original departure.

Gordon says all the passengers – apart from two, who chose not to fly any further - were moved onto another aircraft, and left for Cape Town at 16:20.

In a tweet, one person said that “as passengers I think all our hearts stopped when that engine failed mid-flight”.

But Gordon said that the description of the engine issue may be “a bit hyperbolic”. “From what we see the engine performance degraded steadily rather than failing instantly.”

FlySafair’s technical investigations are still underway into why there was an issue with the engine. “There are no immediately obvious technical problems, so it is being sent to a specialist workshop for further investigation,” Gordon said.

“The crew on FA113 are very experienced and did a sterling job in following protocol to the letter. Minor technical issues like this do unfortunately happen from time to time and these are the sorts of things that our crew train for all the time.”

FlySafair was launched five years ago by the air cargo company Safair, which has been doing business for more than a half a century

Unlike most other airlines in SA, which depend on SAA Technical for maintenance, FlySafair uses its in-house Safair services.

With SAA, as well as Comair (which owns and operates BA flights in SA) in business rescue for much of the year,  FlySafair was one of the only airlines to continue to fly on domestic routes.  

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