A Qantas flight to Fiji has had to turn back and land at Sydney airport, as investigations begin into a different Qantas flight that issued a mayday call a day earlier because an engine failed.
QF101 from Sydney to Nadi returned to its point of departure on Thursday morning as a “precaution” after the pilots received a message about a “potential mechanical issue”.
The flight landed about 10.30am after spending almost two hours circling over New South Wales.
A Qantas spokesperson said engineers will inspect the aircraft, a Boeing 737, and that the airline is to get the passengers to Fiji as soon as possible.
They said the landing was not an emergency or priority landing.
“Our Sydney to Fiji flight has returned to Sydney as a precaution after pilots received a fault indicator about a potential mechanical issue.”
“Engineers will examine the aircraft … We thank customers for their patience and we are working to get them on their way to Fiji as quickly as possible.”
It comes as the aviation safety watchdog announced it would investigate cockpit voice and flight data from the Qantas flight that made a mayday call on Wednesday while flying from Auckland to Sydney.
QF144 issued the mayday when its left engine failed as it was flying over the Tasman Sea, forcing pilots to land the Boeing 737 with just one engine.
Flight radar data shows the plane lost altitude and speed during the flight, but the mayday was later downgraded.
The plane landed safely about 3.30pm, with all 145 passengers disembarking normally and only learning of the engine failure when exiting into an arrivals gate packed with media.
On Wednesday night the Australian Transport Safety Bureau began its safety investigation into the incident.
Three investigators with experience in aircraft maintenance, aircraft operations, and data recovery have been assigned to the investigation, ATSB’s chief commissioner Angus Mitchell said.
“[At] ATSB’s request the operator has quarantined the aircraft’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders,” he said. “Once downloaded, information from those recorders will be analysed at the ATSB’s technical facilities in Canberra.”
Mark Hofmeyer, vice president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, praised the pilots for landing the plane safely with only one engine operating.
“At the end of the day, it was a safe outcome,” he said.
The incidents come almost a month after a Qantas flight from Singapore to London was forced to make an emergency landing in Azerbaijan due to concerns there was smoke in the cargo hold.