Qantas Airlines makes second emergency landing in three days

I’ve flown on Qantas a few times over the years and always considered the flights pretty high up there in terms of travel experiences, especially on the long haul L.A.–>New Zealand–>Australia route.

But it seems that Australia’s national carrier, known in the past to be one of the world’s safest airlines, has been having some trouble of late.

Last night a Qantas flight from Adelaide to Melbourne had to turn around after 20 minutes and make an emergency landing when one of its landing gear doors would not shut. This came only three days after another Qantas flight had to make an emergency landing in the Philippines when a significant hole was found in the fuselage.

The flight yesterday was a Boeing 767-338 and the one that landed in the Philippines was a Boeing 747-400.

Consumer confidence is shaken. Many passengers on yesterday’s Adelaide-Melbourne flight refused to board another Qantas flight, opting instead to fly with other airlines or find ground transportation for the long trip to Melbourne, Australia’s Daily Telegraph says.

The newspaper has also compiled a complete list of Qantas mishaps since 2006. Read it here.

No injuries were reported in either incident, and Qantas corporate is downplaying the danger factor involved in the emergency landings.

And that’s something to consider: Has been inflated a bit by the media.

While a hole in a plane’s fuselage sounds to me pretty significant and worth the measures of an emergency landing, the landing gear door failure did not pose a significant threat to the flight, Qantas said. In fact, it was really a judgment call on the part of the pilot whether to continue flying with the wheel door open, which would have created much more drag. He decided to turn around.

A lot of you regularly read Kent Wien, Gadling’s resident airline pilot, who flies for a major airline. Here’s his take on this Qantas story:

“The Qantas article is pretty typical of the media. With so many departures a day, it’s easy to report on every maintenance issue when an airline has a high profile incident.

“At [my airline] we get a weekly summary of everything that has happened that week. There are usually 20 or more items more significant than this Qantas example in each report. Not bad considering we have 2500 departures a day.”

Thanks, Kent, for sharing your thoughts.