After hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons over the last few weeks, Qantas hit more trouble this morning when one of its Boeing 747s was forced to make a ‘priority landing’ after the cockpit filled with smoke.
Pilots on the Buenos Aires bound flight from Sydney were forced to wear oxygen masks and dump fuel over the Pacific ocean before making the ‘priority landing’ two hours after takeoff.
The emergency is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in an instrument panel, which is the latest in a long-line of problems for the airline since an engine explosion on a superjumbo sparked a global safety scare last week.
Although the incident was completely unrelated to the drama unfolding around the airlines superjumbo’s, it was the third time Qantas jetliners have aborted flights because of faults since the November 4 explosion on the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane.
The company, which prides itself on its safety record, has prompted extra attention since the Airbus incident.
Passengers onboard the 747 said the pilots informed them that there had been a problem with an instrumental panel in the cockpit and that the plane would return to Sydney.
Passenger Samantha Gash said: ‘We couldn’t smell or hear anything. All we noticed, because we were next to the wing, is when the fuel was let out. Everyone was very quiet and calm. It was probably when we landed back in Sydney and there were four or five fire engine trucks behind us that people began to start to feel a bit uneasy.’
Qantas spokesperson Olivia Wirth said the passengers would be put on alternative flights, and repairing the plane was not expected to take long. She added that the problem was a ‘minor electrical fault’ that caused a ‘minimal’ amount of smoke in the cockpit and that no smoke entered the passenger cabin.
The airline said the 747 was carrying 221 passengers and crew.
In recent weeks the safety levels of several Qantas flights have come under scrutiny after a Sydney-bound Qantas Boeing 747 landed safely in Singapore after an engine caught fire just minutes after takeoff.
A Qantas Boeing 767 turned back during a domestic flight in Australia on Friday after pilots detected abnormal vibrations in one of its two General Electric engines.
A scare on one of the Qantas A380’s saw the jetliner safely returning to Singapore after leaking oil caught fire in one of the four massive engines, heating metal parts and causing the motor’s disintegration over Indonesia.
Following this serious scare, Qantas grounded the entire A380 fleet within hours and four days later revealed suspicious oil leaks in three engines on three different grounded planes, however they do hope of returning the A380s to service within days, not weeks.