Qantas’s 90th anniversary celebrations have been overshadowed, with CEO Alan Joyce dismissing last night’s mid-air engine fault on a Melbourne-bound Boeing 767 as a minor incident.
The plane was only 15 minutes out of Perth when it developed a vibration in one of its two engines, but landed safely with 234 passengers on board.
Some passengers managed to board another flight to Melbourne and Qantas said it hoped the remainder could be rebooked on other flights.
Mr Joyce says the plane was turned around as a precaution, but the glitch was only a minor fault.
“This is a vibration. It wasn’t engine failure. It wasn’t anything significant. This should be regarded as a minor issue,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“This would happen hundreds, if not thousands of times, around the world each year.”
Mr Joyce said the pilot’s decision to return to Perth was appropriate and an indication of the airline’s emphasis on safety.
“I think Qantas pilots will always act over cautiously and we expect them to do that,” he said.
“They brought this aircraft back to the base, some other airlines may have gone on. Qantas would never do that.”
The Boeing plane had GE engines.
The incident comes a week after a mid-air explosion of a Qantas A380 engine, made by Rolls-Royce, over Indonesia last week.
Qantas and Singapore Airlines grounded their A380 planes while the explosion was investigated.
A day later, a Qantas Boeing 747 was forced to turn back from Singapore en route to Sydney because of a “contained engine failure”.
It landed safely at Changi Airport.
Mr Joyce said he was pleased with the progress Rolls-Royce and Airbus were making in investigating the blast on the superjumbo.
He gave no indication of when the double-decked A380 craft – which carry 17 per cent of the airline’s international traffic – would be back in the air.
“We’re not going to rush anybody, we’re not going to be putting a deadline on it,” he said.
“We’re going to make sure it’s absolutely right before we have this aircraft start flying again,” he said.