“Mayday! Mayday! We have another Qantas Issue!”

Elaine L (Year 9)

What is happening in the sky? 

Only just regaining Safest Airline in the World, Qantas has turned five flights around mid-air in the past two weeks.  

 On Wednesday 18th, shortly into a flight from Auckland to Sydney, a familiar cycle kicked off leaving many with a sense of déjà vu: yet another Qantas Issue. However, this time the issue was a serious one. Flight 144 had issued a mayday call.  

 Within minutes, news crews had gathered at Sydney Airport to broadcast a mid-air engine failure landing. Australians watched as pilots landed the Boeing 737 with just one engine. Not wanting to panic passengers, confused travellers were only told after landing and walked into a sea of cameras and reporters in the Arrival Hall.  

 While the incident was notable – mayday calls on commercial passenger flights are rare (especially in Australia), the response was suggestive of a familiar pattern. 

 On 23rd December, Qantas’ QF1 made an emergency landing in Azerbaijan while on its way to London from Singapore. With concerns of smoke in the cargo hold, this significant air safety issue, along with the stories of those stranded, were headlines in traditionally quiet Christmas news periods. 

 Then on Thursday – after QF144’s mayday call – Flight 101 heading for Fiji was turned around back to Sydney as a precaution after pilots received a message about a potential mechanical issue. On Friday, Tullamarine Airport received an unlikely visitor, QF430 from Melbourne to Sydney, which had also been turned back due to an indication of a minor engine issue. 

 Neither of the previously mentioned two were emergency landings.  

 Also on Friday, Canberra bound flight QF1516 turned back to Melbourne as a precaution over an issue with its flaps. 

 While many Australians may be concerned at the numerous mid-air distress signals, the aviation industry remains calm at what it sees as a string of unfortunate events yet unconnected incidents.  

 If anything, Qantas’ handling of recent events continues to support its recent title as world’s safest airline.