Passengers on board an Emirates A380 flight forced back to Sydney for an emergency landing say they saw a bright orange flash and felt the plane shake in a mid-air scare less than an hour after take-off.
The problem, believed to have been caused by one of the plane's engines, happened on Flight EK413 bound for Dubai which left Australia at 9.45pm AEST (11.45pm NZT) on Sunday night.
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Fairfax motoring journalist Matt Campbell, who was on board the plane, said the aircraft was still ascending when the incident occurred.
"It seemed about half an hour in to the flight when I saw a bright orange flash, heard a loud bang and there was a big thump through the cabin," he said.
"The flight attendants were rushing about through the cabin and then eventually the PA came on and the captain said there was an engine problem with engine number three and that engine had now been shut down."
Campbell said others on board the flight heard the issue may have been caused by a bird strike.
"I didn't see flames but the flash that I saw would be consistent with an engine exploding," he said.
"It was a bright orange light, I didn't see it for more than a split second, but it was still a very scary sight."
Campbell said the captain spoke with Emirates in Dubai to determine if the plane could still complete the journey.
However a short time later an announcement was made that the plane would turn back around and landing in Sydney.
The plane touched down in Sydney two hours after takeoff last night.
"It was a safe landing, there were no issues after the fact, but it was still a bit of a scary experience," he said.
Comment was being sought from Emirates.