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Etihad A330 makes emergency return to Brisbane

November 22, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A flight deck instrument failure reportedly caused an Etihad Airways A330 flight to Singapore to make an emergency return to Brisbane Airport yesterday afternoon.

The crew of Etihad Airways flight EY473 reported the emergency shortly after taking off about 2.50pm.

International news services reported the plane had issued a mayday call, indicating a serious incident.

‘Mayday’ is a step above ‘pan-pan’ in degrees of seriousness. ‘Mayday’ is reserved for situations where life is in immediate danger or the viability or integrity of flight is at risk.

The flight from Brisbane to Singapore was reported to have returned to the terminal earlier, before takeoff, apparently to have something fixed.

Then, after the A330 eventually took off, the captain decided to return to Brisbane Airport. The plane was reportedly circling for some time to burn off fuel before landing. The landing was normal and no-one was hurt.

Whether the call was in fact ‘Mayday’ will no doubt emerge.

Etihad Airways communications manager Stephen Mahoney downplayed the incident, telling Brisbane’s Courier Mail that it was not an emergency landing and neither aircraft nor passengers were in any danger .

Mahoney said it was a “purely a routine thing, if there’s something wrong and you don’t think you can continue you come back to the ground and have it fixed.”

He told the ABC: “The flight crew followed all standard operational procedures, declared an emergency, and made a precautionary landing.”

For the record, international convention stipulates that a distress call (situation where the aircraft requires immediate assistance) is prefixed: Mayday, mayday, mayday. A lesser urgency message (situation not requiring immediate assistance) is prefixed: Pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan. The distress signal ‘mayday’ derives from the French “Venez m’aider”, that is, “come to help me”, and was introduced in 1927.

The ATSB is investigating the Etihad incident and more will no doubt emerge, including whether a mayday call was made.

Written by Peter Needham

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