AirAsia flight, QZ535, to Indonesia changed course to Australia just 25 minutes after its take-off. The event took place after pilots of the aircraft were alerted to a possible drop in the cabin pressure.
The aircraft had 151 people on board and was headed to the Indonesian island Bali.
According to reports, a technical problem had caused the plane to drop from 32,000 feet to 10,000 feet with no warning. This in turn resulted in a major fluctuation in the cabin pressure.
Further reports stated that the pilot immediately took the aircraft back to Perth where emergency services were placed on standby for the passengers.
The passengers on board stated that they were intensely frightened by the event. Many took videos which show the oxygen masks dropping and the frightened clutches for loved ones.
Speaking of the event to the local Nine network, one passenger said, “We were all pretty much saying goodbye to each other. It was really upsetting.”
Another passenger named Clarie Askew told the Seven network that the panic was made worse by the airline crew who were screaming a great deal and appeared to be in tears.
Passengers added that the situation was made worse by the fact that the announcements were not made in English.
AirAsia released an official statement after the event, stating it was “fully committed” to the safety of its passengers.
It added, “AirAsia, apologizes to passengers for any inconvenience caused.” It did not, however, elaborate on the core problem that the flight had faced.
This is not the first time an AirAsia flight to Indonesia has been in the news. In June of this year, an AirAsia flight to Bali was also forced to circle back to Perth after it faced an engine problem.
Reports at the time stated that the engine problem had left the plane, “shaking like a washing machine”.
In December 2014, an AirAsia plane to Indonesia crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people on board. The crash occurred after the aircraft’s rudder control system malfunctioned during the flight.