Australian Airliner Turns Back During 3-Hour Flight Over Incomplete Paperwork

A Qantas Airbus A330 landing safely.
A Qantas Airbus A330 landing safely.

Could you imagine being the passenger on a several-hour-long flight and having the plane turn around because of a clerical error? On Monday, Qantas flight in Australia from Adelaide to Perth was forced to return back to its departure airport. The aircraft didn’t have any technical problems, and no one on board had a medical emergency. Qantas staff failed to complete the necessary paperwork for the flight correctly. The error was the latest in a series for the Australian flag carrier just this month.

ABC reported that Qantas flight QF887 had to turn around off the coast of South Australia because of incomplete engineering paperwork. The flight was scheduled to be three hours long, and Qantas turned its Airbus A330 around about 45 minutes into the flight. Once the paperwork was sorted, the plane took off again for Perth nearly four hours after its original departure time. A Qantas spokesperson told ABC, “Once paperwork was finalized after engineering sign-off in Adelaide, the flight departed for Perth and landed four hours after the scheduled arrival time.”

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Surprisingly, the incident is the fifth time in 2023 that a Qantas flight was forced to return to its departure airport. According to Simple Flying, two flights between Fiji and Sydney were forced to turn around. A January 19 flight had a warning light in the cockpit for a potential mechanic malfunction, and a January 22 flight had the crew report fumes in the passenger cabin.

However, the worst incident for Qantas so far this year had the flight land at its destination. On January 18th, a flight between Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney suffered an engine failure over the ocean. The plane was able to land in Sydney safely.

Qantas claims that it averages about 60 turnbacks per year. The Australian airline states that turnbacks happened out of an abundance of caution. Though, it does draw concern that these mistakes and issues almost became a daily occurrence for part of this month.

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