Qantas plane forced to land in Bangkok: official

The Sydney-bound flight developed difficulties on Tuesday evening soon after taking off from the Thai capital and returned just after 1200 GMT, said Somchai Thean-Anant of Thailand's air traffic control.

"The Qantas flight detected a mechanical problem shortly after it took off from Suvarnabhumi airport and the pilot drained the plane's fuel before turning back," he said.
A Qantas spokeswoman in Bangkok said the aircraft was carrying 354 passengers and 18 crew.

She said the jet was in the air for around two hours, but was unable to give details of the problem that forced it to return to Bangkok."In the past 90 years passenger safety has been Qantas' highest priority," she told AFP.

The flight is now set to depart from Thailand early Thursday morning using another aircraft flown in from Sydney.Also yesterday, a Qantas Boeing 737-400 carrying 99 passengers lost cabin pressure mid-flight en route from Adelaide to Melbourne, prompting the pilot to dive 8,000 metres and panicking passengers.

Qantas has endured a dramatic few months. In November it temporarily suspended flights of its Airbus A380 superjumbos after an engine on one exploded after taking off from Singapore, damaging the plane.

Last week a Qantas flight bound for New York made an unscheduled stop in Fiji after the Boeing 747 developed a problem with a fuel valve supplying one of its engines.

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