A Qantas A380 made a dramatic emergency landing in Singapore on Thursday, trailing smoke from a damaged engine, in the first mid-air emergency involving the Airbus superjumbo.
The double-decker plane, which had taken off from Singapore bound for Sydney carrying 433 passengers and 26 crew, dumped fuel over Indonesia before returning to the city-state’s Changi Airport.
“The flight has landed safely at Changi Airport and there are no passengers or crew injured,” an Australian foreign department statement said.
Six fire engines swarmed A380 flight QF32 on landing, spraying liquid on it, according to an AFP reporter at the airport.
One of the engines on the four-engined plane’s left wing was blackened and its rear casing was missing.
Plane debris including what appeared to be part of a Qantas jet was found in the Indonesian town of Batam, after a mid-air explosion was heard on the ground.
“I didn’t see a plane crash but I heard a loud explosion in the air. There were metal shards coming down from the sky into an industrial area in Batam,” witness Noor Kanwa said.
Australian flag-carrier Qantas, which prides itself as the world’s safest airline with no fatal jetliner crashes in its 90-year history, blamed an “engine issue” for the incident but gave no further details.
“In line with procedure, the pilot sought priority clearance for its return to Singapore,” the airline said.
The A380’s very first commercial flight operated by Singapore Airlines was on the same Singapore-Sydney route in October 2007.
Since then, fuel and computer glitches have grounded several A380s and at least one Air France flight was forced to turn around and land in New York after problems with its navigation system in November 2009.
And in April, a Qantas A380 superjumbo damaged tyres on landing from Singapore in Sydney, showing sparks and scaring passengers.