A QantasLink Boeing 717-200 remains stuck in the mud at Rockhampton Airport on Queensland’s mid-north coast. The plane became bogged in the grass alongside a taxiway early on Monday evening after flying in from Brisbane. Almost 48 hours later, the jet stays firmly on the ground. It’s another aircraft temporarily out of action at Qantas and another headache for the airline.c
The Boeing 717-200 (registration VH-NXH) was wrapping up QF1798, the scheduled 17:40 departure out of Brisbane Airport (BNE) that gets into Rockhampton (ROK) 55 minutes later. The flight was operating late on Monday evening and didn’t land in ROK until about 19:15. The mishap occurred while the QantasLink 717-200 had left the runway and was on taxiway Bravo.
“The aircraft had landed normally, and while taxiing at low speed to the parking bay, the pilot inadvertently directed the aircraft across the soft ground and became stuck just before the airport,” states Qantas spokesperson. “Customers were capable to disembark normally via the stairs onto the tarmac. The QantasLink aircraft will be moved in the coming days.”
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A local news report states the pilot “overdid a turn” causing the plane’s back wheels to become stuck in the ground. However, a graphic illustrating the “accidental detour” reveals quite a significant detour. It appears the pilot didn’t see the grass patch between the taxiway and the parking apron
As of Wednesday morning local time, work is still underway to move the plane out of the grass at Rockhampton Airport. The taxiway has stayed closed since the incident, but the airport resumes work normally. City council-owned and operated, Rockhampton Airport manages approximately 1,500 per day and primarily operates QantasLink and Virgin Australia flights from Brisbane – around 320 miles (517 kilometers) down the coast.
- Australia’s east coast is waterlogged and although the sun is beginning to make the odd appearance, the soft soil under the grass at airports between Melbourne and Cairns is perilous for pilots right now.
VH-NXH is almost 23 years old and is one of 20 Boeing 717-200 Qantas operating under the QantasLink brand. Like a lot of these aging but sturdy narrowbody Boeings, the Qantas Group inherited VH-NXH when it took over Impulse Airlines in the earlier 2000s.
Qantas is eyeing phasing out their 717-200s as part of the Project Winton aircraft replacement program. In the meantime, the planes keep active flying those routes a bit too active for QantasLink’s 74-seat de Havilland Dash 8-Q400s but not quite busy enough for the mainline Boeing 737-800s.
That sees VH-NXH arriving and going from airports like Newcastle (NTL), Hobart (HBA), Launceston (LST), and Rockhampton. The incident is another issue for Qantas, leaving them down a plane and dealing with yet more adverse media. But in a rare boost for Qantas, passengers praised the airline’s customer service following the incident – that doesn’t happen much these days!
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