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QantasLink Dash 8 diverts back to Brisbane after lightning strike

written by Hannah Dowling | February 28, 2022

A QantasLink Q400 takes off from Brisbane. (Rob Finlayson)

A QantasLink Dash 8-400 was struck by lightning shortly after taking off from Brisbane Airport on Sunday, before landing safely back in Brisbane.

The aircraft, VH-QOM, operated by Sunstate Airlines, departed Brisbane around 2:20pm on Sunday afternoon, bound for Longreach as flight QF2534.

According to the Aviation Herald, the aircraft was climbing from FL180 to FL200 when the crew advised that they needed to return to Brisbane airport, after the aircraft was allegedly struck by lightning.

It comes as Brisbane continues to battle against excessive rainfall and ongoing storms, which has caused dangerous flooding throughout south-east Queensland.

The aircraft landed safely back on runway 01L at Brisbane, around 45 minutes after departure.

One passenger onboard the plane when it was struck, Becky Forsyth, told the ABC that she heard a loud bang when the lightning hit.

“We were halfway up to cruising and at the left-hand side window there was a large flash and then bang,” Forsyth said.

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“They told us it was lightning and we had to turn back. I was a bit nervous but [the lighting] didn’t do too much so I wasn’t too worried.”

It’s understood some of the plane’s signal equipment may have been damaged in the incident. VH-QOM remains on the ground in Brisbane, according to the Aviation Herald.

Passengers onboard were accommodated onto another aircraft, after disembarking at Brisbane. The replacement flight took off at 5:27pm and touched down in Longreach at just before 7:20pm.

A Qantas spokesperson said, “A QantasLink aircraft travelling to Longreach returned to Brisbane yesterday for engineering checks following a lightning strike. The aircraft landed safely and without incident and is being checked by QantasLink engineers.

“While a replacement aircraft was subsequently delayed due to Brisbane weather, all passengers have now been re-accommodated.”

Lightning strikes are not uncommon for commercial aircraft, and it is rarely a dangerous occurrence.

In May 2021, another QantasLink flight, QF1570, took off from Sydney headed to Coffs Harbour when it made a similar U-turn to return safely to Sydney after a suspected lightning strike.

A Qantas spokesperson said at the time that aircraft “are designed to withstand being struck by lightning” and noted that the flight turned back due to the superior engineering support on offer at Sydney Airport, as opposed to Coffs Harbour.

A similar occurrence happened to QantasLink flight QF2164 on 19 June 2018, which was again diverted back to its departure airport of Sydney after a suspected lightning strike.

The aircraft was headed to Port Macquarie when the nose of the aircraft was struck, about 25 minutes into the flight.

After safely landing back at Sydney, the pilot of QF2164 stated that the weather conditions on this day were “not normal” due to the excessive lightning, which he said was unusual for that time of the year.

“At no time were we unsafe, we were always safe. We’ve just come back as a precaution,” he added.

Comments (5)

  • Dean

    says:

    Not really a story here. No engineering inspection available where they were going, so would not be able to depart again. So crew made the correct call to simply return to Brisbane so that an inspection could be carried out. The tiresome line “before landing safely” for clickbait is not warranted.

  • Nerdy Nev

    says:

    Why the word ‘back’ after word ‘diverts’?

    Maybe ‘AA’ proof-reader should check OED for meaning of word ‘diverts’.

    • Marum

      says:

      @NN…. Aren’t “diverts” those holes you make in the ground with your golf-clubs?….Marum.

  • Manuel Boavida

    says:

    Should have shown pics of the affected area, demonstrating the amount of damage.

  • Nearly as Nerdy

    says:

    Maybe Nerdy Nev needs to check the definition himself before he criticises. To quote the OED: To turn aside(a thing, as a stream, etc.) from its (proper) direction or course….to turn from one destination or object to another.
    To me, the use of ‘back’ is totally appropriate.

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