FlySafair flight FA103: “Rapid descent, rapid descent”, and then the lights went off

FlySafair flight FA103 from Johannesburg to Cape Town on 24 January left passengers terrified after it lost cabin pressure and was forced to make an emergency landing at OR Tambo.

According to a report on Traveller24, the incident involved the same plane that had lost pressure on 22 January – two days before flight FA103.

FlySafair apologised to its customers in a statement, which gave an overview of the events during the flight.

“As the aircraft reached approximately 32,000 feet‚ Captain Lawrence Banda and First officer Charles Peck noted that the air pressure wasn’t stabilizing as it should and that the aircraft was experiencing a very gradual loss of pressure,” the statement said.

“The team decided to act cautiously and began safety procedures and a return to Johannesburg. These procedures included reducing speed‚ lowering altitude, and releasing the passenger oxygen masks manually as a precautionary measure.”

“Captain Banda and his crew safely landed FA103 at OR Tambo just after 21:30‚ where FlySafair ground teams met passengers.”

“Once in the terminal building, passengers were greeted by staff who offered the option of a later flight‚ and assisted with any alternative arrangements that passengers needed. Full refunds are being processed for all passengers and the airline is on standby to assist in any way that we can.”

Reports on social media about the ordeal

Many passengers took to social media to share their experience. Here is one report from Facebook.

I had the most terrifying experience last night while flying to Cape Town from Johannesburg with SAFAIR.

The lack of communication and unprofessional manner of which they handled the situation made everyone speechless and horrified.

The pilot just announced “rapid descent, rapid descent”, the lights went off, and oxygen masks dropped. There was no further communication and the plane was going down.

The oxygen masks were not working, and some of the masks were not even connected to the pipes which fell on passengers’ laps.

People were saying their last words, praying to whatever they believed in, and most passengers were holding each other’s hands. Some were kissing, and some were SMSing their loved ones and saying their goodbyes.

I had a panic attack and there was no help. Only after 5 minutes the pilot announced that we were going to have emergency land back in Johannesburg.

I’m glad everyone is alive, and I’m on another plane back to Cape Town, but definitely is NOT SAFAIR.

This is what it looked like

Here are two photos from social media from the inside of the plane during the descent.

Flysafair inside plane

Safair flight

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FlySafair flight FA103: “Rapid descent, rapid descent”, and then the lights went off