SYDNEY -- Passengers on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Perth on Sunday used slides to evacuate the Airbus A330 after it was forced to return as the cabin filled with smoke.
Qantas said flight 575 returned to Sydney shortly after takeoff due to a hydraulic issue.
"Once back at the gate, the captain made the decision to evacuate the aircraft as a precaution and three emergency slides were deployed," the airline said in a statement.
It said passengers were evacuated through both the slides and normal exits.
“They came and got us to the gate and everything was fine. And next thing he (pilot) goes, evacuate, evacuate, evacuate, like in a calm but firm, loud voice,” said passenger Niamh Champion. “And so instantly everyone jumps off and they're thinking, Oh my God. I thought there was smoke, or a fire or, you know, something was happening, and I was relatively close to the back of the plane.
“The hostess opened the door, bang, the chute comes down and everyone starts rushing into the aisle,” Champion said, adding that she had to jump out before her two young children followed her lead.
"Otherwise we'd be holding up the whole line of people on a possible plane that’s full of smoke," she said.
Debbie Slade, the Qantas fleet safety captain, said that once the plane was on the ground, it was towed to the gate. "And once they're at the gate, I believe there was some indications of a mist inside the cabin. So the crew took the conservative option and agreed to evacuate the aircraft," she said.