By order of King Abdullah II, a Royal Jordanian 787-8 was dispatched to Wuhan, China to rescue Jordanian, Palestinian, and other Arab students and workers.
Before returning to Amman, the aircraft underwent an extensive sterilization process. A team from Jordan accompanied the aircraft to Wuhan and took over two hours to conduct a three-phase sterilization process that included sanitizing:
- flight deck
- cargo hold
- air conditioning system
The 4,519 flight, numbered RJ6101, took 11 hours to reach Amman. The extra time was due to avoiding airspace over India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. It left Wuhan at 9:12PM local time on January 31st and arrived in Amman at 2:21AM on February 1st.
71 passengers were transported onboard. Crew were specially train to quarantine passengers who displayed any signs of sickness. Lavatories were sanitized after each use.
RJ6101 included four pilots, two co-pilots, 12 cabin crew, and an engineer. Medical staff were also onboard.
The special mission was under the command of Captain Carol Rabadi, a senior captain and the first female captain at Royal Jordanian. Rabadi was not forced to pilot this flight. Instead, she and her colleagues accepted the mission by choice:
“I accepted to fly the plane … Imagine that you have a brother or son in this area, can you give him up or leave him.”
On Facebook, Royal Jordanian commended the crew for its successful mission:
“We are proud of our distinguished crew for their great effort and outstanding performance on board the aircraft that carried Jordanians and Arabs from Wuhan to Amman.”
I wish I spoke Arabic, because apparently Captain Rabadi narrated much of the journey, a sort of pilot video trip report. It was brave of the pilots and flight attendants to volunteer for this mission and is just one of many stories of rescue mission we will be reading about in the days to come as nations evacuate their citizens from Wuhan and surrounding cities.
All photos courtesy of Royal Jordanian