A Qantas long-haul aircraft with a mechanical problem circled the sky off the coast of Wollongong on Friday afternoon, dumping fuel as it prepared to return to Sydney.
The A380, which was flying to Dallas in the United States with hundreds of passengers on board, departed at 1.40pm and turned around shortly afterwards, circling over the Tasman Sea east of Wollongong.
In a statement, Qantas said the flight – QF7 –was forced to return to Sydney Airport due to “a mechanical issue”.
“The flaps on the aircraft (which are attached to the wing) are unable to retract which means the aircraft can’t fly efficiently,” the statement said.
“As the Dallas flight is our longest on the network, the captain made the decision to return to Sydney.”
Lake Illawarra Police reported receiving a number of emergency calls from concerned members of the public after the plane was seen flying low over Wollongong on Friday afternoon.
The aircraft landed without incident at 4.38pm, and is under inspection by engineers.
Meanwhile, a second flight – Qantas flight QF63 to Johannesburg – also needed to return to Sydney due to an engineering issue on Friday.
The Boeing 747 suffered a crack to the outer pane of a cockpit windscreen during the flight.
The windscreens have three layers of glass, and the aircraft did not suffer any depressurisation.
It landed safely at Sydney Airport shortly before 3.30pm.
The airline's A380s can carry 484 passengers, and the jumbos 371. Both flights are believed to have been almost full.
A spokeswoman for Qantas said all passengers would be accommodated or offered transport home before replacement services were organised.
Meanwhile, an A330 aircraft – QF23 – due to depart Sydney at 10am on Friday bound for Bangkok did not take off due to the need for an engine replacement. Passengers booked on the flight were scheduled to board a replacement A330 late on Friday afternoon.
And in a separate incident, another A330 – QF41 – has been delayed departing Sydney by about five hours after a small fuel leak was detected. The plane is now due to depart for Jakarta at 7.20pm.
Chris Quinn, a passenger on QF41, said four incidents in a single day was concerning.