A China-bound plane made an emergency landing back at Sydney after a gaping hole was ripped in an engine casing just after take-off.
The China Eastern Airbus A330 twin-jet was flying to Shanghai as flight MU736. It took off at 8.42pm on Sunday night, but almost at once the pilots reported a problem with the port engine.
The plane initially continued to climb and head north, but then turned south-west and then east to fly out over the Pacific. It landed safely after 42 minutes airborne.
An airline statement said the crew had “observed the abnormal situation of the left engine and decided to return to Sydney airport immediately”.
A passenger, Madeleine Frith, posted on Facebook: “Flight just got diverted back to Sydney airport due to technical issues... Thankful for a safe landing!”
She told 9NEWS told the “I didn’t realise, and no one behind the wing, realised how big the engine issue was. It looks like a pretty big dent.”
It is not known where the debris fell to earth; there were no reports of debris at Sydney airport after a runway sweep.
Passengers were placed in hotel rooms overnight and took off just before noon on Monday, over 15 hours late.
The engine involved is a Rolls-Royce Trent 700.
Four weeks ago, an EgyptAir A330 with the same engines encountered a very similar problem while on the runway at Cairo. The pilots of the flight to Beijing aborted the take off and passengers were transferred to another plane.
In 2010, a Qantas Airbus A380 flying from London to Sydney suffered an uncontained engine failure on one of its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines shortly after take-off from Singapore. The engine manufacturer paid £62m in compensation after the airline's fleet was temporarily grounded.
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