STEPHENVILLE, N.L. — A man onboard a plane that made an emergency landing at an airport in western Newfoundland Thursday says passengers became nervous after they were asked to brace themselves in a crash position.
Gene Babb was a passenger on PAL Airlines Flight 1922, which crash-landed at the Stephenville airport after encountering issues with its nose landing gear.
The plane was en route from Wabush, N.L., to Deer Lake carrying 47 passengers and four crew. There were no injuries.
But in the moments before the Dash 8 aircraft touched down, Babb said there were children crying and some "nervous flyers" that were extremely concerned.
"When they announced to get into emergency crash position, that's when a lot of people got really nervous," Babb said in a phone interview from a bus driving passengers from Stephenville to Deer Lake.
PAL Airlines said the crew followed procedure, including a flyby of the Deer Lake control tower for a visual check of the nose gear position.
It said there was inclement weather in Deer Lake, so the Dash 8 aircraft proceeded to the Stephenville airport for landing, as the nose gear could not be confirmed as locked.
The airline said the plane landed without the nose gear locked in position and came to a stop on the runway.
"It was very smooth, very calm," Babb said. "Everybody got off the plane in good orderly fashion and obviously everybody was happy when we touched down and they clapped."
He said the crew opened two doors at the front of the plane, including an emergency door that Babb said he used "just for the sake of doing it."
"Everybody was in good spirits. A lot of guys were saying they would need a drink," he said. "They asked if they could have a smoke and the firefighters were shouting at some of the guys not to."
Babb said the crew handled the incident calmly and professionally.
"They told us that the nose gear wouldn't come down and they were going to try some manoeuvres," he said. "They were jolting the plane trying to get the landing gear down but after they exhausted all the attempts at that, they told us to prepare for an emergency landing."
Babb said the flight crew went through the cabin two or three times to make sure all the passengers were safe and secure.
"It was all very cool and calm and you could obviously tell the flight attendants were a little bit concerned, but they were doing their job and they were doing it professionally," he said.
Babb, who is not a nervous flyer whatsoever, said he was more concerned with the fact he would be delayed getting home to St. John's, N.L., after weather cancelled his initial flight on Wednesday.
"I'm into a lot of extreme sports and now I can say I survived a plane crash," he said. "I can scratch that off the bucket list."
But unlike motocross racing or backcountry snowmobiling, Babb said he never even got an adrenalin rush during the landing.
"I wasn't concerned or worried at all," he said. "I've never seen a plane crash and burn just from the nose gear not being down."
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has been notified of the incident.
The Canadian Press