Plane in emergency landing after flying ‘on one engine’
A passenger on-board a Regional Express (REX) plane that caught fire mid-flight on Thursday night has declared it was the "most terrifying experience of my life" as the aircraft flew 40 minutes with only one engine.
Firefighters were called to meet the Saab 340B passenger plane at Merimbula Airport, on the state's south coast, after receiving an emergency call about 8.10pm.
NSW Fire and Rescue Merimbula station captain Brett Mitchell said he immediately responded after taking the call about an in-flight blaze.
"A REX plane engine caught fire during flight," he told The Daily Telegraph on Thursday night.
"The plane landed safely with 19 passengers and three crew on board.
"The REX guys great did an incredible job of controlling the fire with an in-flight suppression system that extinguished the blaze.
"The plane landed on one engine and the passengers were taken inside the terminal and assessed by paramedics."
After landing, passenger Vicki Hodges took to social media saying: "I have just had the most terrifying experience of my life flying home from Sydney on Rex ZL139."
"Engine blew up just out of Moruya so flew 40 minutes on one engine. The wonderful pilots got us home safely. (Praying emoji) Did a lot of this".
REX confirmed its flight ZL139 from Sydney to Merimbula experienced "a cockpit indication associated with the aircraft's right engine" en route.
"Pilots carried out the prescribed procedures and landed safely and without further incident at Merimbula Aipro at 8.43pm," a spokesperson said.
The safety regulator has been notified.
It comes after REX has battled claims of a "culture of fear" within the airline and a separate 2017 incident where a propeller fell out of the air.
Despite the controversy, dozens of local residents took to social media on Thursday night to congratulate the pilot on landing the plane safely.
A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said: "All passengers were assessed at the scene and no one was transported to hospital."
According to Flight Radar, the aircraft appears to have circled above the ocean off Tathra for a period of time.
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In July, the The Telegraph revealed concerns from aircraft engineers who said there was a "culture of fear" within REX, claiming management was intimidating maintenance crews out of reporting defects.
It follows a 2017 incident where a REX flight from Albury to Sydney had to make an emergency landing after a 100kg propeller fell off and landed metres from homes in southwest Sydney.
The cause was found to have been corrosion in the prop shaft.
After the intimidation claims REX deputy chairman John Sharp said the public relations nightmare "is killing us" and blamed the engineering union for "weaponising safety".