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‘Foul stench’ forces Qantas flight to return to Sydney

A Qantas Boeing 737 had to return to Sydney on Friday after a bird strike mid-flight.

A Qantas Boeing 737 had to return to Sydney on Friday after a bird strike mid-flight. Photo: AAP

A passenger on a Qantas plane forced to turn around mid-flight and return to Sydney has described a “foul stench” on board the plane.

Qantas flight Flight QF141 was reportedly about half an hour into its flight from Sydney to Auckland in New Zealand early on Friday when it had to turn back.

The Boeing 737 landed back in Sydney about 9.30am, after a bird strike.

James Hita was among those on board, travelling to meet his partner in New Zealand to celebrate an anniversary. He said the first sign of trouble came when the “cabin was filled with a foul stench”.

Hita told the Seven Network that the captain announced about 15 minutes later that the plane had experienced a bird strike. A second announcement confirmed the plane would return to Sydney.

“One of our flights bound for Auckland returned to Sydney this morning following a bird strike shortly after take-off,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

A flight tracking website shows the plane’s route hundreds of kilometres into the Tasman Sea before it turns around to return to Sydney, circling above the city’s north before eventually landing.

There were no injuries among passengers or crew.

Hita praised the flight crew’s handling of the incident but said Qantas’ communication with passengers back on the ground could have been better.

Qantas initially promised passengers would be accommodated on later flights, but Hita had since been told he would have to wait until Saturday.

Seven is reporting that while engineers cleared the plane to return to the skies, the flight crew would have exceeded their operational hours. That meant the flight was cancelled rather than delayed.

Qantas said it would “re-accommodate customers as soon as possible”.

“We appreciate our customers’ understanding and apologise for the inconvenience,” it said.

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