Passengers were forced to evacuate by emergency slides after a Qantas aircraft was forced to return to Sydney Airport.
On Sunday, Qantas flight 575 was bound for Perth when it was forced to return to Sydney shortly after take-off after an alert was received regarding one of its three hydraulic systems.
The captain of the Airbus A330-200, which can carry up to 271 passengers, elected to return to Sydney and landed safely shortly afterwards. Qantas said no emergency was declared.
However, once the aircraft was back on the tarmac, passengers reported what appeared to be “smoke” filling the cabin.
The captain then gave the order to evacuate the aircraft as a precaution, according to Qantas, with passengers exiting by the emergency slides, through the aerobridge and into the terminal.
“We were on the runway waiting to be towed in and we started to smell burning,” Dillon Parker, a Scottish tourist, told ABC News.
One passenger described it as a “terrible smell”.
But while reports have emerged of smoke filling the cabin, Qantas has emphasised there was no fire on board, and that the smell and “thick haze” reported was likely caused by hydraulic fluid entering the air conditioning unit.
“We totally understand this would have been a very unusual and probably alarming experience for our customers, so we thank them for giving crew their full cooperation,” Qantas fleet safety captain Debbie Slade said in a statement.
“We’ll investigate exactly what happened, including liaising with Airbus, before this aircraft is returned to service.”
Passenger Ally Kemp, who was on the final leg of a trip to Perth after spending six months studying overseas, told ABC News the scene was “terrifying”.
“When we got back to the gate, the cabin started to fill with smoke and basically the captain started screaming ‘Evacuate!’,” the 20-year-old said.
“It took a few seconds to sink in and then basically it was a mad scurry to go down the slides and get off the plane which was just crazy.”
Two passengers were treated for injuries from using the slides and another passenger was taken to hospital as a precaution. Qantas said customers had also reported sore eyes and itchy throats.
Both the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) have been notified. Qantas said it will assist the ATSB with its investigations.
Featured image: Passengers evacuated from QF575 (Dillon “EVILH0MER” Parker)