A Europe Airpost pilot was not exactly the rock of confidence airline passengers expect from their captain, when he made a dire announcement during a flight from Croatia to France on August 23. According to passengers on board, the pilot broke into tears, “weeping” over the public address system as he told them exactly the type of information that you never want to hear on an airplane.
The pilot announced that everyone on the plane probably had just six minutes to live, because the plane was going to crash into the ocean — and probably explode.
Understandably, the passengers began screaming — but it turns out that all of the drama was unnecessary. The Europe Airpost Boeing 737 made a safe emergency landing in Venice, Italy, and no one on board was harmed, despite the panic.
Europe Airpost, a 23-year-old French airline whose fleet of 16 Boeing 737 switch between nighttime cargo and daytime passenger flights, later denied that the pilot and crew had panicked and insisted that the passengers were never in any danger.
According to one passenger’s account, the nightmare flight — between the Croatian city of Split and Nantes, France — ran into trouble shortly after becoming airborne, when the pilot came on the loudspeaker to warn of some rough turbulence ahead.
Nothing too unusual about that. But the real reason for the warning soon became clear when passengers toward the back of the plane noticed that one of the plane’s engines had died out.
The pilot shortly acknowledged that this was true. The Europe Airpost 737 was flying with one engine.
Even that, in itself, was not a disaster. The Boeing 737, like all commercial airliners, is designed to fly safely on just one engine. According to British passenger Benjamin Girard, returning from a vacation with his wife and two small children, the pilot actually made a joke about it.
“He said we would have to make an emergency landing in Venice, and joked it would be a great chance to visit the city,” Girard said.
The jovial mood soon dissipated however, because the next time the pilot spoke over the PA, he told everyone to prepare for a crash into the Adriatic Sea.
But that wasn’t even the worst of it. The pilot still had one more announcement. And this time, Girard said, he was “weeping” as he pleaded with passengers not to panic as he told them that in just six minutes, the plane would hit the water and blow up.
“Everyone was terrified, even the cabin crew,” Girard recalled. “One steward was in a state of total panic and another just went pale and silent.”
People freaked out — but the Europe Airpost crew took the plane to Venice without further incident, despite the despairing pilot’s grave announcements. The airline later downplayed the whole affair as “an incident with an engine.”