An oil worker described the moment a Flybe aircraft he was travelling in was forced to make an emergency landing after a cargo door opened in mid-air.
James Jamieson, from Sandwick, was returning home at the end of an offshore stint on the Balmoral platform in the central North Sea when the incident happened.
The drama started around half an hour into this morning’s 11.55am BE 6774 Aberdeen to Sumburgh flight, which quickly lost cabin pressure as a result.
Mr Jamieson said the aircraft slowed suddenly in mid-air, causing concern among passengers. The air host “ran up” the cabin to check that all passengers were wearing their seatbelts.
A couple of minutes later the cabin crew announced the plane would have to make an unscheduled stop at Kirkwall Airport.
“They’d just done the drinks service. I’d just got a cup of tea and a biscuit and the plane slowed really drastically,” he said.
“It didn’t nose-dive, but it slowed an awful lot. You knew you were in the middle of the flight and it shouldn’t have been slowing down as quickly as this.
“You immediately kent something was up. The plane was having to decelerate really quickly.
“The next indication was the air host – he ran up the cabin pretty quickly checking everybody’s seatbelt. Then you got a bit more worried.
“You quickly finished your cup of tea. Probably only a minute or two went by. There was no real information, you were just looking around … They came on a few minutes later and said they had lost cabin pressure because a cargo bay door had opened mid-flight, and that depressurised the cabin and we were diverting to Kirkwall.
“There were a few anxious-looking faces as soon as it happened. But as soon as we got that reassurance from the guys on the flight deck, you knew there was nothing really to worry about.”
Mr Jamieson said the landing at Orkney was “straightforward”, but emergency vehicles were on stand-by in case anything more untoward happened.
“I think the door had only opened a fraction, or not been fully closed – just enough probably for them to lose pressure,” he added.
Loganair spokesman Phil Preston said: “Flight BE 6774, which departed Aberdeen at 11.55am bound for Sumburgh Airport carrying three crew and 17 passengers, was diverted to Kirkwall following the activation of a cabin de-pressurisation warning light.
“There was an issue with the cargo door at the rear of the aircraft. Our crew followed the correct procedures and the aircraft landed safely at Kirkwall Airport at 12.30pm, where it was met by emergency services as a precaution.”
A secondary aircraft was flown from Aberdeen to transport the passengers and a full inspection of the aircraft was carried out by Loganair engineers.