This is your captain speaking ...

The slowness with which the Qantas PR machine reacted to yesterday's Airbus A380 engine explosion was offset by the speed of reaction of the aircraft's crew.

Led by Captain Richard Champion de Crespigny of Sydney, the crew received widespread praise for their coolness in a crisis.

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UPDATE: Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said today a "regime of checks" would be done on the engines of the airline's fleet of five A380s by a team of Qantas and Rolls Royce engineers over the next 24-48 hours. The planes will be back in the air if those eight checks are completed satisfactorily. "We're not going to take any shortcuts," he said. "We regard our safety reputation as the most important thing we have."

I do apologise. I'm sure you are aware we have a technical issue with our No. 2 engine ... I'm sure you are aware we are not proceeding to Sydney at this stage ... The aircraft is flying safely at this stage ... Thank you for your patience

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The 53-year-old pilot has been flying for 35 years - all with Qantas apart from an initial stint with the Royal Australian Air Force.

Married with a son and a daughter,  he is known to be a passionate enthusiast for the A380 and a keen admirer of its cutting-edge technology.

When the engine blew yesterday, he calmly addressed the passengers: "I do apologise. I'm sure you are aware we have a technical issue with our No. 2 engine ... I'm sure you are aware we are not proceeding to Sydney at this stage ... The aircraft is flying safely at this stage ... Thank you for your patience."

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Passenger Christopher Lee said there was an "anxious calm" on board the aircraft after the frightening event.

"The cabin crew were very good at keeping us all informed, but trying to keep us all calm as well," he told Fairfax Radio Network today.

Mr Lee, who was travelling with his wife and seven-month-old daughter, said that, soon after hearing two loud bangs, passengers by the window quickly alerted the cabin crew to smoke and flames coming out of one of the four engines.

"So the word got around very quickly as to what the problem was," he said.

"Part of the engine had come away and torn through the left wing and pierced the wing itself.

"I wasn't sitting near the window, so I have absolutely no idea what it was that caused the shake. In fact, I thought we had hit a very big flock of birds, but it seemed a little bit too hard for that, so I was certainly concerned about what it was," he said.

"It's not good when you're at any altitude and you look out and see there's a hole in your wing."

Mr Lee praised Captain de Crespigny, who he said was very quick to jump in and explain the situation.

"Because it was soon after take-off, everyone was forced to be seated because the seatbelt light was still on.

"The captain was very quick to explain the situation and also to explain the standard procedure that he would go through in identifying and isolating and dealing with the issue.

"This meant that we were in a holding pattern for one hour as the captain and co-pilot went through their standard operating procedure," he said.

He described the passengers as having "a level of astonishment".

"The voiceover welcomed us to Singapore when we landed and announced the time as per usual, so that was a very nice way to touch down," he said.

"I will say it was one of the smoothest touchdowns I have had, especially when you consider that we landed, some say, without brakes or hydraulics," he added.

Mr Lee also praised the Qantas crisis management centre and would be on a specially chartered Qantas flight out of Singapore later today.

smh.com.au and AAP

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