Pilot urges prayers as ‘technical issue’ forces turnaround

PERTH, Australia — An AirAsia X flight to Malaysia from Perth, Australia, was forced to turn back Sunday after the A330 aircraft began shaking due to what the airline called a “technical issue.”

A Perth Airport spokesman said the issue was related to an engine.

Passengers heard a loud bang and the plane then shook for the remaining two hours of the flight, Damien Stevens told CNN.

“It was really shaky, very scary,” Stevens said.

He and friend Mitch Jamieson were on their way to Myanmar for a holiday.

“We were asleep and heard a loud bang around the 1-hour-and-15-minute mark,” Stevens told CNN. “It shook for the whole ride back, close on two hours.”

He said the pilot asked passengers to pray twice. And passengers were told to hold “the brace position” for about two minutes during the landing, he said, which was smooth.

He praised the pilot, who shook hands with everyone after the flight was over. “The plane erupted with applause once we landed.”

Some passengers posted videos on social media.

“I thought I might die,” wrote @maesaya on Instagram, along with a video clip showing the plane’s seats rattling.

AirAsia X Berhad confirmed in a statement that flight D7237 for Kuala Lumpur took off at 6:40 a.m. local time with 359 passengers on board and landed back at Perth Airport shortly before 10 a.m.

“The safety of our guests is our utmost priority,” the statement said.

A Perth Airport spokesman said, “The pilot identified a technical issue with the engine. The plane turned around and safely landed back at Perth Airport.”