A Qantas 747 jumbo jet bound for Argentina has landed safely after it was forced to return to Sydney due to a problem with the aircraft’s electrical system.
Flight QF17 landed safely at Sydney Airport at 1.20pm (AEDT) on Monday, about two hours after it departed for Buenos Aires with 199 passengers on board.
Samantha Gash, a passenger on the flight, told SBS that the plane’s passengers had stayed relatively calm during the mid-air incident.
“The captain came out and spoke to each section of the plane. He said there’d been some smoke from one of the control panels,” she said.
“Everyone was quite calm but then we saw a few fire engines which probably escalated people’s anxiety, but it wasn’t out of control,” she added.
The captain had told passengers that the plane could safely continue on to Buenos Aires, but that it was Qantas protocol to turn back anyway.
A Qantas spokesperson said the airline did not anticipate that the aircraft would be grounded because of the electrical fault.
Ms Gash is on a $15,000 trip to run across Antarctica and raise money for charity, but the hiccup has made her miss her connecting flights.
She told SBS she is not sure whether Qantas will compensate her for the flights she has missed, and has been trying to contact her insurance company.
Qantas ground staff were frantically trying to re-book all of the 199 stranded passengers on new flights, with reports that many would re-board a flight at 5:00pm this afternoon.
QF17 was also carrying three flight crew and 18 cabin crew.
Qantas said reports that the Boeing 747 lost pressure in the main cabin are incorrect.
Oxygen supply to the cabin was unaffected, it said in a statement.
“The flight crew operating the service acted appropriately in line with their training,” it said.
The incident has been reported to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
Qantas engineers are inspecting the aircraft to determine the cause of the problem.
The airline said it regrets the inconvenience to passengers and will seek to make arrangements for those affected.