Passengers evacuate Qantas plane via emergency slides after ‘smell of burning’

Passengers have described as "terrifying" having to evacuate their plane on emergency slides after noticing the smell of burning and mist in the cabin shortly after take-off.

Qantas flight QF575 took off from Sydney and was bound for Perth but quickly had to be turned around and returned to Sydney airport after safety issues.

About 30 minutes into the flight, the pilot landed the plane and passengers had to exit via three inflatable slides.

In a statement, Qantas said the aircraft returned shortly after take-off 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.”

Qantas said that engineers were inspecting the aircraft, an Airbus A330-200 that can carry up to 271 passengers.

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ABC reported that the plane was stuck on the tarmac after landing and smoke began to fill the cabin.

“We were on the runway waiting to be towed in and we started to smell burning,” passenger Dillon Parker told the broadcaster.

A Qantas spokeswoman told journalists at Sydney airport that there was mist in the cabin.

“I think perhaps some of the hydraulic fluid was pumped in by the air-conditioning system, I haven’t heard of any indications of smoke,” the spokeswoman said.

“It may have appeared like smoke but it was mist from the hydraulic system."

The captain said some of the passengers may have "itchy eyes" or a "scratchy throat" from exposure to the mist.

During the evacuation, some passengers said they received injuries to their arms and legs as they were pushed by others. Some passengers had banged their heads against the overhead luggage compartment as they jumped out of their seats.

One passenger, Ally Kemp, said on Twitter that the experience was “terrifying".

"When we got back to the gate, the cabin started to fill with smoke and basically the captain started screaming ‘Evacuate!’," she said.

"It took a few seconds to sink in and then basically it was a mad scurry to go down the slides and get off the plane which was just crazy."

Niamh Champion, who was travelling with her children, said: "They came and got us to the gate and everything was fine. And next thing the pilot goes, ‘evacuate, evacuate, evacuate’, like in a calm but firm, loud voice."

"And so instantly everyone jumps off and they’re thinking, ‘oh, my God’. I thought there was smoke, or a fire or something was happening, and I was relatively close to the back of the plane.

"The hostess opened the door, 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.

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