In an interview with Berita Harian, Captain Ibrahim Jalaluddin said he was calm throughout the emergency situation on board flight D7237 and felt no harm in asking passengers to pray.
Commended for landing the aircraft safely and with no casualties, the pilot of the troubled Perth-KLK flight said he did not give up hope in finding ways to land the plane safely after it had engine difficulty.
Captain Ibrahim Jalaluddin, who has been a pilot for 25 years, said that while elevating between 38,000 and 40,000 feet in the air, they heard a loud sound like something hitting a metal object, Berita Harian reported today.
“At that moment, I thought we hit another plane. The aircraft started swaying left and right.
“I realised that this happened because the left engine was not functioning properly as the autopilot that’s been set to turn left had instead flown to the right,” he said.
Together with his co-pilot Vincent Low, they shut the engine and told the control tower in Perth that the flight was in danger with a ‘may day’ signal.
“However, while descending, there was a sudden jolt. My co-pilot and I discussed, saw the flight’s positioning while assessing potential scenarios. We decided to lessen the speed to the approved minimum but it was unsuccessful.
“We never gave up, in fact, we tried our best to find ways to land safely in Perth,” he added.
On his controversial announcement to passengers, telling them to pray, Ibrahim said it was because he believed in the Almighty and saw no harm in appealing for divine intervention.
“I also prayed and I feel it is not wrong to ask them (the passengers) to do the same. I am thankful for landing the aircraft safely in Perth,” he said.
He added that he was calm throughout the emergency situation.
The AirAsia X flight was forced to return to Perth about 90 minutes into the journey after the aircraft suffered a technical problem.
Several passengers recorded videos of the plane described as “shaking like a washing machine” while the pilot asked everyone on board to pray for safety.
The severe vibrations were reportedly attributed to an engine losing a turbine blade.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has classified the incident as serious and is investigating both the maintenance records of the flight and why the pilots chose not to land at nearer airports rather than Perth which was 90 minutes away.
According to Captain Ibrahim, the emergency was not one that required immediate landing.
“The standard operating procedure for AirAsia X and Airbus is that immediate landing is allowed for problems with fire or smoke,” he said.