An Australian bound United Airlines flight has landed safely at Sydney Airport after the pilot made a mayday call. The 787-9 aircraft operating UA839 from Los Angeles to Sydney was put into a holding pattern east of Sydney Airport due to heavy traffic and inclement weather at about 6 am this morning local time.
Major roads around the airport were closed as a precaution with the aircraft being given top priority to get on the ground safely. What caused the incident is a simple lack of fuel, the aircraft had below a certain amount of fuel left in its tank, it, therefore, triggers an emergency warning. According to Australia’s government-owned aviation authority, the plane had about “40 minutes of fuel left” when they touched down with the agency also confirming that they had used more fuel than planned on their 14-hour hop across the Pacific. The aircraft landed safely 9 minutes before scheduled their arrival at 6:36 am with many passengers having no idea that the incident happened, no one of the 194 people on board were injured.
Sydney Airport had local fire and NSW Ambulance crews awaiting the landing as a precautionary measure while also closing major roads around the airport as well as putting other aircraft into holding loops. Sydney Airport declared this incident as “not unusual” and the 787 took off bound for San Fransisco 3 and a half hours later running only half an hour late.
This isn’t the first time United has had low fuel issues on Australian bound flight. In 2014 a United flight also heading to Sydney was found to have only enough fuel to divert to Canberra, a mere 250km away. Canberra has international flights however customs officers weren’t rostered on at the time and United elected not to pay up for officers to come in and process their passengers, instead leaving the aircraft on the tarmac and their passengers on the plane without food, water or toilets for 4 hours before a 3 hour stint off the plane in which passengers were given lunch from food trucks and portable toilet facilities passengers who described themselves as “sunburnt” were flown back to Sydney.
United Airlines 787-9, the aircraft involved in the mayday inncident photo credit