Tuesday October 12 2010

KLM plane makes emergency landing in Entebbe

By Martin Ssebuyira & Ephraim Kasozi

Entebbe/Kampala

An Amsterdam-bound KLM Royal Dutch airlines made an emergency landing at Entebbe International Airport on Sunday night soon after take-off.

This is one incident not many want to relieve. However, Mr Patrick Luganda, who was on the KLM 562 flight, said he noticed something was wrong as soon as they left the runway. “I felt a bang on the plane soon after we had just taken off and the air hostess told us that something had happened but we needed to be calm,” Mr Luganda said. “But thankfully, we successfully landed back at Entebbe International Airport.”

Mr Luganda was one of estimated 220 passengers that were aboard the plane. Mr Jon Dunagan, who was on his way to his home country through Amsterdam, en route to Oregon - USA, said in an email: “the situation was very terrifying.”

Some of the notable passengers on the flight were Makerere University Vice Chancellor Venansius Baryamureeba, Presidential Advisor on agriculture Dr John Otim and leading Mathematician Edith Mugamba.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Kampala general manager Asjes Coen, however, dismissed reports of crash landing. He said a bird was sucked into the engine upon the airbus taking off before it flew back. Mr Coen, who declined to comment on the losses and costs for the new engine, said the company booked nearby hotels in Entebbe for all the passengers.

Finding alternatives
“Some passengers have gone today morning (yesterday) aboard Ethiopian Airlines and British Airlines while others would be taken on various flights available,” he said in an interview with Daily Monitor. He said another plane 747 Cumby has been dispatched from Amsterdam carrying a new engine to replace the old one, which he said was “pretty much damaged.”

Mr Vianney Luggya, the acting manager public affairs at Civil Aviation Authority, says the Airbus 330 passenger aircraft ingested a bird, a Crested Crane at about 9:57pm which caused damage to the right engine of the aircraft, necessitating an emergency landing. “Entebbe International Airport officials put all the necessary safety precautions in place to ensure that passengers were safely disembarked off the aircraft,” he said in a statement.

The incident led to a delay for all in-bound flights. In March, 2009, about 10 people died in a cargo plane crash soon after take-off at Entebbe.

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