COLOGNE A SunExpress flight was en route from Fuerteventura to Düsseldorf when it had to make an unplanned landing in Cologne due to technical problems. There was apparently unrest on board due to lack of information.
It was to be the end of the summer vacation, but for some passengers on the SunExpress flight from Fuerteventura to Dusseldorf it was a disturbing return trip. A Boeing 737 from SunExpress had to break off the approach to Düsseldorf on early Monday evening and turn around to Cologne. The reason: technical problems on the plane which was ferrying vacationers back from Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. "We can confirm that this machine had to make a safety landing at Cologne / Bonn Airport," says airport spokeswoman Hannah Schneider. The aircraft landed safely there at 7:23pm on Monday evening.
"There was a malfunction of the flaps," said a spokesman for SunExpress Germany, responding to an inquiry from General-Anzeiger. For safety reasons, the crew decided to make an unscheduled landing in Cologne. "As the Cologne / Bonn airport has a longer runway, this airport is well suited for a landing without the braking function of the landing flaps," said the spokesman. According to GA information, the 188 passengers were informed by the crew that a longer runway than the one in Dusseldorf was required and that meant they had to fly to Cologne.
Emergency vehicles on the runway
But passengers criticized the lack of information. "We were already landing in Düsseldorf, had to buckle up and prepare for the landing," says a passenger who wants to remain anonymous. For about 40 minutes, the plane continued to circle over Dusseldorf. This is confirmed by the flight data. "One to two circles in the queue (to land) at the airport are quite normal when flying, but 40 minutes is extremely unusual," said the passenger. He himself was a frequent flyer and therefore quickly realized that something was wrong. "Only after about 40 minutes and when the passengers on board were already anxious, did the the pilot briefly inform us about the defective landing flaps and having to land in Cologne."
While landing in Cologne, a large contingency of fire and emergency vehicles with blue lights could be seen on the runway. "Then it got really restless in the plane, the queasy feeling in the stomach grew," says the family man. He tried to distract his children sitting next to him and to calm the people around him. "My children would never have got on a plane again otherwise." SunExpress emphasizes in its statement that at no time was there any danger for passengers or crew members.
"In an expected safety landing, as in this case, it is normal practice to have the fire department there, for example, to cool overheated brakes, but a safety landing is nothing compared to an emergency landing," says Hannah Schneider from Cologne / Bonn Airport. According to the father, the passengers on the plane would have appreciated having this information from the crew in order to calm the tense atmosphere in the plane.
Airlines contradicts passenger description
The trouble was not over after the successful landing. "We had to stay on the plane for 30 minutes, again there was no information, instead only an unnaturally loud hum," says the passenger. This, he later stated, came from the built-up fans that cooled the brakes of the Boeing after landing. Only after 30 minutes were passengers taken from the plane to the buses and from there on to Dusseldorf. "The logistics after the exit worked very well, but no one from SunExpress was on site. Just amateurish", says the passenger from Lower Saxony.
SunExpress contradicts these descriptions: "The captain informed the guests immediately after arrival in Cologne about the precautionary escort of the fire department. We asked the cabin crew and they did not confirm any unrest on board, but instead looked after individual passengers who had questions about the landing." Technical defects of this kind are rare at SunExpress.
"We apologize to all passengers for the inconvenience caused," says the company. The angry passenger now wants to look at the possibility of compensation. "That really was not a nice end to the holiday."
(Orig. text: Sebastian Fink. Translation: ck)