Author: By Tom Peck
While sitting on the Tarmac at Mahon airport, Menorca, on Saturday, passengers on board flight TCX964L were told to expect an eight-hour wait while an engineer was flown out from the UK to fix the aircraft. But among the flight’s 200 passengers was a qualified aircraft engineer who worked for the rival carrier Thomsonfly. He identified himself and offered to help.
“We checked his licence and verified who he was, and that he was qualified to fix the problem that we had,” a spokesman from Thomas Cook said. “There are very strict rules in place, but there is a reciprocal agreement between UK airlines. Our flight operation department was able to make checks about who he was and the management team was happy to go ahead and work with him. Our captain was fully involved with what was happening. We are very grateful he was on the flight that day.”
The engineer fixed the fault while the other passengers remained on board. Take-off was delayed by 50 minutes and landed in Glasgow just 35 minutes behind schedule.
One passenger, Keith Lomax, from Stirling, was travelling home from a week’s break with his wife. He said: “We were in the plane, ready for take-off, when [the pilot] announced that there was a technical problem and that an engineer might have to be flown out from Manchester to fix it.
“Then a stewardess told us there was an engineer on board and they were checking out to see if he could work on it. He was obviously successful. When he came back on to the plane there was a round of applause from the back of the aircraft.
“He was the hero of the flight, no doubt about it. I think everyone on the plane was grateful to him. The captain thanked him at regular intervals throughout the flight.
“There were a lot of young families on the plane. I think the short delay was long enough for them. It was reassuring to know the person who had fixed it was still on the aeroplane.”
It is not the first time an airline passenger has saved the day. In December 2001, on a flight from Paris to Miami, the rapid intervention of several passengers prevented the would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid from detonating the explosive in his tennis shoe.
Several other passengers volunteered their belts to forcibly restrain him and a physician who was also on the flight used the plane’s on-board medical supplies to sedate him for the remainder of the journey.
In 1981, a single-engine aeroplane landed safely at John Wayne Airport, California after a passenger, Roland Schneider, pushed the broken landing gear into place by leaning out of the main cabin door while secured with a seatbelt. The pilot stole his thunder somewhat by jumping to the ground and raising his arms in victory.
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