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Safety Chiefs Open Investigation After Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner Diverts to Airport Which Didn’t Have ‘Sufficient’ Equipment to Handle Plane

Safety Chiefs Open Investigation After Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner Diverts to Airport Which Didn’t Have ‘Sufficient’ Equipment to Handle Plane

a large airplane flying in the sky

Australian air safety investigators have opened a probe after a Qantas-operated Boeing 787 Dreamliner diverted to an airport 120 miles away from Sydney, which didn’t have sufficient equipment to handle such a large aircraft stranding passengers overnight in the terminal building.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said it was investigating the circumstances of the diversion after the pilots reported a low-fuel emergency, as well as whether the choice of diversion airport may have created any safety critical issues. The investigation is ongoing.

The incident occurred on February 17 when Qantas flight QF28 from Santiago de Chile was due to land in Sydney after a 14-hour flight from South America. At the time, a fierce storm was lashing Sydney, causing havoc at the city’s airport and resulting in a number of weather-related diversion.

QF28 initially held off the coast of New South Wales before attempting to land at Sydney Airport. On the approach, high winds rocked the Boeing 787 and the pilots were forced to abandon their first landing attempt.

At this point, the aircraft had already reached ‘minimum fuel conditions’ so the pilots decided to make a beeline to an alternative airport where there would be a better chance of a safe landing.

The plane headed straight to Newcastle Airport, around 120 miles away, where the aircraft landed safely and without incident. Once on the ground, however, it soon became apparent that the airport was not equipped to handle a widebody aircraft as large as a Dreamliner, and it didn’t have sufficient resources to refuel the plane.

To make matters worse, however, as a domestic airport, there were no immigration facilities to handle the arrival of hundreds of people off an international flight so the passengers weren’t even allowed to disembark the aircraft.

After a 14-hour flight, passengers say they were kept on the plane for a further seven hours before they were eventually allowed into the terminal building, where they were then forced to stay overnight and provided with Mcdonald’s meals.

In a statement, the embattled airline said customer support teams travelled from Sydney to support passengers stranded in Newcastle.

“We understand that this would have been a frustrating experience for our customers and an uncomfortable night, and we thank them for their patience and understanding of the impact the storms had on flights into Sydney,” a spokesperson said.

The airline did not provide further comment on the ATSB investigation into the incident.

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