Passengers said they were told to pray for their survival by an AirAsia pilot after their plane suffered engine problems.
Flight D7237 started to shake violently as it made its way from Perth to Malaysia and was forced to turn back with 359 people on board.
The plane was less than two hours into its trip when a loud bang was heard before the shaking began.
Passengers spoke about the fear on board with some people crying while others pulled out their life jackets.
One passenger, known only as Tim, said: ‘We thought there was a good chance we were going to go down.’
Malik Mascarenhas told Channel Seven: ‘The plane was really, really limping home. It was shuddering, shuddering, shuddering. We all thought, you know, we’re just going to go down.’
Sophie Nicolas spoke about the crew’s reaction. She said: ‘He said “I hope you all say a prayer. I will be saying a prayer too and let’s hope we all get back home safely”.’
Another passenger said that a blade had come off the turbine of one of the engines.
Brenton Atkinson told ABC news: ‘It was essentially the engine seized up, I think. That’s what they told us anyway.
‘The whole thing, the plane started vibrating and shaking pretty bad, and we had to turn around and come back,’ he said.
‘It was literally like you were sitting on top of a washing machine.’
AirAsia said in a statement: ‘Flight crew are taking precautionary measures to check the aircraft and some guests on board the flight will be transferred to the next available flight today,’ the statement said.
‘Other guests will be informed of the progress of the flight.
‘The safety of our guests are our utmost priority.’