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Monarch Airlines investigates after pilot warns passengers of fault leading to 'watery grave'

Pilot compared technical fault to a problem that hit a Thai flight that flipped over in mid-air and killed all 213 people on board
  • @bobjwilliams

British carrier Monarch Airlines has launched an investigation after terrified passengers on a long-haul flight from the Caribbean were left 'traumatised' when the pilot told them there was a problem with the plane that could have led them to "a watery grave".

The furious holidaymakers arrived back in London three days later than expected after a series of technical problems.

The aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in Barbados after the pilot reported seeing smoke in the cockpit.

The initial problem was with the plane's reverse thrusters and as passengers boarded the following day the pilot compared the technical fault to a problem that hit a Thai flight that flipped over in mid-air and killed all 213 people on board in 1999.

He went on to explain that the problem, if not repaired, could have led them all to a "quick watery grave".

The reference was to Lauda Air Flight 004, that crashed on the 26 May 1991 due to an uncommanded thrust reverser deployment of the No.1 engine in mid-flight.

The crash killed all 213 passengers and 10 crew members on board and is the deadliest ever crash on Thai soil and the most serious ever involving a Boeing 767.

The reverse thrust, which is used to slow the plane down, deployed as the aircraft travelled over mountainous jungle terrain in the border area between Suphanburi and Uthai Thani provinces in Thailand.

The plane went into a dive at the speed of .99 mach, which may have broken the sound barrier.

One of the passengers on the delayed Monarch flight, Mike Bloxam, wrote on Facebook: "Safety is of course the most paramount consideration. But to mention planes flipping over and watery graves as you wait to take off is totally unacceptable."

Monarch Airlines admitted in a statement that the pilot used an "an inappropriate choice of words".

In a statement the carrier said: ‘We always encourage pilots to give regular and open updates to our customers.

‘On this occasion, during one update, he used an inappropriate choice of words and has expressed his regret in doing so

'Every effort is being made to refund additional expenses incurred as a result of the delay.’