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AirAsia pilot in prayer controversy says he did not panic

Pilot says he 'surrendered himself to the higher power' during crisis

KUALA LUMPUR : He has been at the centre of controversy after he asked passengers on board his plane to pray for a safe landing.

Now, AirAsia X Flight D7237 captain Ibrahim Jalaluddin has come out with details of what happened when the plane was forced to turn back to Perth, Australia, due to an engine malfunction on Sunday.

He said he was flying at 38,000 feet when he heard a sound which he took to be a collision between two metals, reported the New Straits Times.

"I thought we had hit another plane. (Then) I knew that the left engine was not functioning, (because the) autopilot (kept turning the plane) left and right," he said.

Mr Ibrahim's checks on the engine confirmed his theory, and he and his co-pilot Vincent Low shut down the engine before turning right and sending a mayday signal to the air traffic control centre in Perth.

He said he then brought the plane - flying on a single engine - to a lower altitude of 25,000 feet (7,620m) as per standard procedure, in a bid to stabilise it.

"But when we were doing this, there was suddenly a terrible vibration. I and my assistant discussed the matter and looked at the position of the plane while considering our various options.

"We decided to reduce our speed to the minimum level allowed to reduce the vibration - but it did not work.

"(But) we never gave up.

"Instead, we (pressed on and eventually) found a way to land safely in Perth," he told Berita Harian in an interview on Wednesday night.

On his call for passengers to pray, Mr Ibrahim said he did so because he believes in God and surrendered himself to the higher power.

"I prayed and continued to pray and it is not wrong to ask passengers to pray with me. I am grateful that we were able to land the plane safely," he said, and thanked his co-pilot, crew and passengers on board who went through the situation with him.

Mr Ibrahim had ignited controversy by telling passengers "I hope you all say a prayer. I will be saying a prayer too and let's hope we all get back home safely," during the emergency.

Many, including a passenger who was on the plane, have defended him against accusations that he was creating panic. - NEW STRAITS TIMES

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