Low fuel forces Australian plane to land

PTI Melbourne | Updated on May 31, 2011 Published on May 31, 2011

A jumbo jet of the Australian national carrier Qantas was forced to land on a Pacific island to fill up after it ran low on fuel while trying to make the non-stop leg to Brisbane.

Pilots landed the Boeing 747-400ER in Noumea for an unscheduled stop after battling stronger than expected headwinds. The plane had left from the US yesterday, media reports quoted a Qantas spokesman today.

“They [the pilots] made a decision that it was better, as a precaution, to divert to Noumea and take more fuel on board, rather than continuing,” spokesperson Thomas Woodward said adding, “As a result, they had to divert to Noumea to refuel, which led to a two-hour delay getting into Brisbane.

“Headwinds in May have been ‘unseasonably’ strong,” he said. Qantas began flying the non-stop route between Australia and Dallas, Texas, only two weeks ago.

The airline knew it was stretching the range of the Boeing 747-400ERs to make the 13,816-kilometre trip, one of the longest non-stop routes in the world and the longest flown by 747s.

The Dallas route is the new jewel in Qantas’ network and bolsters its alliance with American Airlines, but the incident has the Flying Kangaroo looking closely at how the route will operate in the future.

“We’re a few weeks into the new route and we’ll keep monitoring it,” Mr Woodward said.

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Published on May 31, 2011
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