In-Flight Mayday: Passengers Had No Idea
A United Airlines pilot flying into Sydney this morning from Los Angeles declared a mayday call due to low fuel.
Emergency services responded preparing for the worst.
“We have a full emergency level three for a United 787, call sign is UA839. It has low fuel issues; it has issued a mayday” emergency services could be heard announcing over the emergency scanners.
Passengers on board were not made aware of the unfolding drama until after they had landed safely.
“Passengers were not told of anything wrong. Apparently we were in danger of running out of fuel.” Said Passenger Kalev Savi.
While it’s not unusual for long haul flights to burn more than their planned fuel it is very unusual for a pilot to issue a mayday call.
An air traffic controller who preferred to remain anonymous told Ten News
“For a pilot to make a mayday call it must have been pretty serious.”
The Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB) said they’re aware of the incident and are “gathering information” as part of the preliminary process before declaring full investigation.
United Airlines issued a statement today “United flight 839 from Los Angeles to Sydney landed safely in Sydney following a mechanical issue. The aircraft taxied to the gate and all customers disembarked normally.”
A company spokesman said the same plane took off again this morning at 10:55 am bound for San Francisco without incident however they will continue their own investigations into what led to the flight running so low on fuel as to force an emergency mayday call.
Air Services Australia spokesperson said the 787-900 Dreamliner which was bound for Sydney, was running low on fuel, and the pilot was following procedure and that no passengers were at risk.
Major roads around the airport were closed as a precaution just after 6.30 am, but reopened shortly afterwards.
There were some initial reports that dry ice was leaking in the plane's cabin which sparked the emergency however Airservices Australia said that was not the case although did confirm that dry ice was on board.