The plane landed in Charlottetown just as a storm had spread its first skim of snow on the runway. (Kerry Campbell/CBC)

An Air Canada passenger plane travelling from Halifax to St. John's was diverted to Charlottetown just before noon Wednesday due to engine trouble.

Peter Fitzpatrick, Air Canada's spokesman in Toronto, told CBC News the Embraer E-190 plane had taken off, and was climbing to about 13,000 feet when pilots felt a vibration in one of the plane's two engines.

The plane, carrying 93 passengers and five crew, immediately went into shutdown mode.

Passengers on Air Canada flight 672 told the CBC’s Kerry Campbell that about 20 minutes into the flight, they heard a loud noise. The lights went out and passengers reported smelling smoke.

"I felt every worst fear that you'll ever want to fear when you flying. I was ready to text my wife and my kids because I didn't know," said Dave Rouah, from St. John's.

"We just heard an explosion. So you don't know what's going on, the pilots might have known, but we didn't know."

Fitzpatrick said the noise would be common when an engine is suddenly shutdown, that there can be a backfire noise.

"We were just told that there was one engine failure on the aircraft and that the plane would be diverting to Charlottetown," Doug Newson, CEO of Charlottetown Airport, told CBC News.

Fitzpatrick said the plane can be flown on one engine. He said the pilot decided to divert to Charlottetown instead of returning to Halifax because of winter weather conditions.

Passengers 'shaken up'

"There was a big bang," said passenger Stephen Boyrs.

"I knew it was the engine because I looked out the window … and you could see it."

"Never was there an emergency procedure put in place. Basically they just decided they were going to divert the plane to Charlottetown to check on that engine," said Newson.

"I was scared to death, to be quite honest. And I'm probably still scared to death. I just don't want to go through that ever again, it was horrible," Rouah told CBC News.


The diversion of the plane as shown on the website Flight Aware. (Flight Aware)

"The [flight attendant]

was standing in the middle of the aisle and he went running up to the front of the plane," said Valerie Leonard.

"So immediately everyone was a little shaken up. Beneath my feet, I was over the wing, there was a banging and grinding sound."

Leonard said even though she wasn’t allowed, she got out her BlackBerry and sent texts to loved ones.

Passengers told Campbell it was about 10 minutes before they received information, and that flight attendants didn’t seem to know what was happening.

Emergency vehicles on site

Fitzpatrick said the pilots have to follow a checklist before communicating to passengers, which includes: stabilizing the situation, notifying air traffic control, and choosing an alternate airport.

The Charlottetown Airport was called about 12 minutes away from Charlottetown.

After about 20 minutes, passengers said they were told one of two engines was out.

The plane landed in Charlottetown without incident. Newson said emergency vehicles were on site as a precaution. Another plane was sent to pick up passengers while the aircraft was being examined.

Not everyone was keen to get on the replacement jet.

"If I could walk home, I would, but unfortunately, Newfoundland is a little bit far away," Rouah said with a chuckle.