Passengers describe Qantas flight passage through fire-generated cloud over Australia: Report

Passengers describe Qantas flight passage through fire-generated cloud over Australia: Report

Qantas flight passes through fire-generated cloud over Australia
Passenger Matt McIntyre took these three photos minutes apart as the plane he was in passed through a pyrocumulus cloud on Jan 5, 2020. (Photo: Twitter/Matt McIntyre)

CANBERRA: A Qantas flight from Melbourne to Canberra passed through a cloud generated by raging bushfires over south-eastern Australia on Sunday (Jan 5) sparking turbulence.

The plane flew over fires raging in Victoria and New South Wales, taking it through a pyrocumulus cloud, according to ABC News.

A pyrocumulus cloud forms due to intense heating of the surface by phenomena such as wildfires or volcanic eruptions.

Australia clouds 2
Pyrocumulus clouds forming over Australia as seen from a flight from Melbourne to Canberra on Jan 5, 2020. (Photo: Jodie Wilkinson)

READ: Authorities warn Australian bushfires developing their own weather systems

READ: Fireballs 'like a hurricane' bring death and devastation in Australia

The pilots were able to react to the unexpected turbulence, ensuring the safety of the people on board, according to the Qantas fleet safety captain Debbie Slade who spoke to ABC News.

"The pilots ascended to a higher altitude before taking a different approach into Canberra, where the aircraft had a normal landing," she said.

Australia clouds 1
Pyrocumulus clouds forming over Australia as seen from a flight from Melbourne to Canberra on Jan 5, 2020. (Photo: Jodie Wilkinson)

Matt McIntyre, a passenger on the flight, told ABC that "it just got greyer and greyer" as the airplane approached the cloud and added that he saw passengers vomiting. 

READ: Rain brings brief respite in Australian bushfire crisis

READ: Nearly US$17m raised as Australia reels from bushfire fury

"Because it was so dark outside, it was just hard to get a gauge on exactly what was happening," he said.

"It wasn't until we got back on track that we got a voiceover from the captain. They said it just did not come up on the radar at all. One minute we were in daylight, the next, it was midnight."

Hua Tuo, a passenger on the airplane, described it as "the scariest flight" he had taken.

"It was orange outside of the window, then suddenly it was black, and then the turbulence hit," he said.

Australia clouds 4
Pyrocumulus clouds forming over Australia as seen from a flight from Melbourne to Canberra on Jan 5, 2020. (Photo: Jodie Wilkinson)
​​​​​​​

Upon landing, the captain greeted passengers and ensured they were fine, said Mr McIntyre.

"It's the first time I've been on a plane where you land and the captain gets a round of applause, that's for sure," he said.

Once the plane landed, emergency services assessed the passengers, and ascertained that no injuries were sustained.

Source: CNA/ic(mn)

Bookmark