Qantas faces its sixth incident in just over a week after another plane was forced to turn back.
Flight QF887 from Adelaide to Perth was reportedly forced to make a U-turn after 45 minutes into the flight on Monday due to paperwork issues.
“According to a passenger, made a U-turn midway due to some ‘compliance’ issues,” one woman tweeted.
News.com.au understands the correct paperwork has not yet been finalized.
The aircraft had no technical problems.
It is understood the flight flew from Adelaide to Perth and landed four hours after its scheduled arrival time once the paperwork was completed following the sign-off of works in Adelaide.
A Qantas 737 flying from Auckland to Sydney issued a distress signal on 18 January and was later downgraded to PAN (assistance may be required) while crossing the Tasman Sea due to engine failure.
The plane, carrying 145 passengers, was able to land safely in Sydney.
The next day, January 19, a Nadi-bound Boeing 737 returned to Sydney after an onboard “fault indicator” indicated a possible mechanical problem. Just before 11am, flight QF10 turned back to Sydney en route to Fiji.
A Qantas spokesman said the flight returned to Sydney Airport as a precautionary measure after “the pilot received a fault indicator of a potential mechanical issue”.
Engineers are checking the plane.
Meanwhile, three Qantas flights were also diverted on Friday – a QantasLink flight from Melbourne to Canberra; a Boeing 737-800 from Melbourne to Sydney; and a flight from Adelaide to Melbourne – due to “Engine and Mechanics” question.
On Tuesday, Qantas domestic and international chief executive Andrew David explained why five flights turned back in mid-air in one week.
“Let me start by assuring everyone that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Qantas,” he told 2GB host Ben Fordham on Monday.
“If you look around the world, the global aviation industry averages about 10,000 diversions or air turnarounds a year. We average about 60 a year.
“Yes, we’ve had four or five encounters in the last week or so, but our pilots are trained to exercise caution with any issues.”
Author and former Qantas captain Richard De Crespigny told Nowadays Aeronautical issues were common on Monday’s show.
“Well, there were five different incidents. But to be fair, it was a perfect storm of events for Qantas,” he said, adding that “a lot of them weren’t that important”.
“Aviation always goes wrong. That’s why we have two pilots in the cockpit.
“Things go wrong sometimes, and pilots fix it. That’s what we’re about, and that’s aviation.”
With more than 10,000 flights across the industry, Qantas averages around 60 air connections per year. Globally, all narrow-body jets experience an estimated 400 to 500 engine shutdowns per year.
“When they happen to Qantas we are proud of how our staff have responded to them, which goes back to our safety record and our commitment to training,” Mr David said in a statement.
“We know that when you hear reports of a U-turn, it worries you.
“But people can rest assured that the aviation industry is built on safeguards, and one of those safeguards is that if something goes wrong, we will take a conservative approach to solving it and not impose it on others.”
Referring to the five incidents, Mr David said the airline was investigating each incident to identify the problem and fix it.