Saturday, September 25, 1999 Published at 05:06 GMT 06:06 UK
Passengers relive jet drama
A series of bumps, and then the plane came to rest
Passengers of a London-bound jet which skidded off a runway during a tropical rainstorm have told of their ordeal.
They arrived at Heathrow Airport shortly after midnight BST on Saturday - nearly 18 hours after Qantas flight QF001 had been due to arrive from Sydney.
The Boeing 747-400, which was carrying 407 people, came to rest in scrubland after skidding into a golf course adjoining the airport.
No injuries were reported despite extensive damage to the jet, which was left with the cockpit windscreen shattered and the front landing gear wrecked.
Passengers, who had been due to arrive at Heathrow at 0650 BST on Friday, were flown to London in a replacement aircraft.
They told how the plane had suddenly bumped to a halt - causing overhead lockers to burst open and the lights to go out.
Sharon Dolly, 29, from Denton, Greater Manchester, said: "There was series of bumps and as the aircraft came to a halt you were thrust forward. There was a sort of stunned calm."
Graham Atkins, 48, from Porth, South Wales, who was at the airport to meet his 16-year-old daughter Rhian, said: "I'm just delighted and relieved. It is good to have her actually with me."
Bristol-born Rhian said: "I'm glad to have finally arrived. It was basically like a very bumpy landing, I felt pretty shaken but I'm all right now."
Qantas representatives at Heathrow handed passengers a letter apologising for the incident and a delay in evacuating the jet.
Bob Reti, 62, from Sydney, said: "We were kept waiting on the aircraft for 15 minutes before they opened the doors. We then waited in the rain and no explanation of the crash has been given."
Quantas defends procedure
All passengers and crew were evacuated down inflatable slides before being taken to a hotel for the night and boarding a second Boeing 747 early on Friday to continue their journey.
It is thought that the jet may have aquaplaned on landing, causing it to skid along the runway and off the end of the Tarmac.
Ken Ryan, south east Asia manager for Qantas, denied that the company was not properly prepared for the crash.
He said: "The evacuation took time because our staff are trained to conduct such an operation in the most organised and safe manner possible."
The incident came just over a week after a Britannia Airways Boeing 757 was torn apart when it skidded as it landed in a storm at Gerona airport in Spain.