Qantas flight issues mayday call as plane approaches Sydney Airport

A Qantas flight has landed safely in Sydney after the aircraft's pilot issued a mayday alert over the Pacific Ocean.

Sydney Airport told Yahoo News Australia emergency services were on standby "as a precaution" following the mayday alert from flight QF144 arriving from Auckland on Wednesday afternoon. The flight landed shortly before 3.30pm (AEDT). It was due to land at 3pm.

Around 148 people were believed to be on board.

The flight is currently over the Tasman Sea. Source: FlightRadar
The flight is currently over the Tasman Sea. Source: FlightRadar

As the flight touched down on the tarmac at Sydney Airport, dozens of emergency vehicles could be seen waiting near the tarmac. Two yellow airport fire appliances drove out to escort it to a park spot.

Qantas confirmed the plane "experienced an issue with one of its engines about an hour from its destination".

"While a mayday was initially issued, this has now been downgraded to a Pan (possible assistance needed)," a statement from the airline read. "We will share more information about this incident once the aircraft is on the ground and has been assessed by our engineers."

More than 40,000 people were watching the flight's path on FlightRadar as it made its way towards Sydney, making it the most watched flight in the world.

QF144 lands at Sydney International Airport in Sydney, Wednesday, January 18, 2023. A Qantas flight has landed at Sydney Airport after issuing a mayday call as it travelled from Auckland, with emergency services rushing to the aircraft. (AAP Image/Jeremy Ng) NO ARCHIVING
QF144 landed at Sydney International Airport after issuing a mayday call as it travelled from Auckland. Source: AAP

Federal Transport Minister Catherine King lauded the airline's safety record after a brief scare that had 100,000 people tracking the flight online.

"A relief to know that QF144 has landed safely," she tweeted.

"Well done to the highly experienced crew for getting the plane safely home.

"Australia's aviation industry is among the safest in the world because of the dedicated staff working on planes and behind the scenes".

A mayday call is issued when a flight is in grave and imminent danger and needs immediate assistance, according to Airservices Australia.

Once the call is issued controllers alert aviation rescue, firefighting and emergency services with details on how to respond. They also provide assistance to pilots.

Aviation expert Neil Hansford told Sky News that "Qantas has never had a passenger lost on a jet aircraft in its history".

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.