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'I went on the flight deck expecting to hear that we had some electrical smoke from the aircraft.' Suddenly, Greaves said: 'Oh my Lord. It's lit up somehow.' The captain was distracted, however: he had just noticed that the engine on his side was illuminated.

Ahead of them, they appeared to be flying into a sheet of brilliant white light, and the temperature within the aircraft began to soar.

They decided it was time to call their captain back to the controls.

'The smoke filling the plane smelt like a sulphuric, electrical smell,' recalls Moody.

At the very back of the enormous jet, Betty Tootell made sure her 80-year-old mother, Phyl, was comfortable, and then began to read the Jane Austen novel she had bought for the journey.

Brought up in Britain, the pair had emigrated to New Zealand three years earlier, and were returning after a summer holiday in suburban London.

Hours before, the BA scheduled flight had taken off from Heathrow Airport.

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Some rows ahead, Charles Capewell sat with his two young boys, Chas, ten, and Stephen, seven.

As the jet flew over the Indonesian city of Jakarta, it was cruising at more than 36,000ft and had been in the air for an hour-and-a-half.

Expecting an easy flight, Captain Moody checked his weather radar, which showed smooth sailing for the next 300 miles.

In a few hours, the family expected to be reunited with their mother in Perth, Australia. They had taken control at the last stopover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Captain Moody had had his first taste of flying at the age of 16, when he took a gliding lesson.

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