A plane parked half on runway tarmac and half on grass

After five days, Qantas is still trying to get this stuck plane out of the soft ground

A stuck QantasLink plane continues to give crews a headache at Rockhampton Airport five days after it got stuck while taxiing.

A Qantas spokesman said flight QF1798, which flew from Brisbane to Rockhampton, landed normally on Monday evening.

But while taxiing at low speed to the parking bay, “the pilot accidentally steered the plane over soft ground and got stuck just short of the terminal,” the spokesman said.

Although the airline’s engineering team had made progress on what it described as a “sensitive” operation, the plane is stuck.

The spokesman said the salvage would require special equipment, which is not currently in Rockhampton.

Qantas did not specify when the plane might be removed.

No one was injured when the plane became stuck and all passengers were able to disembark using the stairs. (ABC Capricornia: Russell Talbot)

“A Screaming Halt”

Qantas confirmed it was investigating the incident, while the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said it was gathering more information to help make a decision on a possible investigation.

No one was injured and customers typically exited the Boeing 717 aircraft via stairs, including Rockhampton’s Gillian Koch.

“It landed perfectly and brilliantly,” said Ms. Koch.

“But we still didn’t know it was where it was. It certainly wasn’t a problem, the staff were just brilliant.”

Ms Kosh said she only realized the plane was stuck when they got to the door at the top of the stairs to disembark.

“To be honest, we laughed,” she said.

“We’ve had a pretty tough day already, so we basically just laughed and thought, ‘What else can we do [wrong]?'”

An airplane sitting on the airport runway with equipment around
Qantas says special equipment has to be brought in from its major engineering bases to move the plane.(ABC Capricornia: Katrina Beavan)

Sensitive recovery operation

Neil Hansford, aviation analyst and chairman of Strategic Aviation Solutions, said situations like this don’t happen very often.

“In general, the problem is that planes fly over the end of the runway,” he said.

“You don’t find such attacks very often in developed countries and I’ve never heard of one like this in Australia in my aviation history.”

Mr Hansford agreed that recovering an aircraft in this situation was tricky.

“They’ve probably got about 50 tonnes spread out over those four tires and the wheels are halfway in,” Mr Hansford said.

“All the weight, the weight of the engines in the back, is on those stuck wheels.”

Mr Hansford said it would be a good idea to dig up the small patch of grass where the plane was stuck and replace it with load-bearing concrete.

“Common sense would tell you it should have been done because it’s next to a taxiway where you have to turn and the planes have gotten bigger,” he said.

Rockhampton Regional Council, which owns and operates the airport, has been asked for comment.

While Qantas said passengers returning to Brisbane on Monday night experienced a minor delay before traveling on an alternative plane, the ABC understands the stuck plane hadn’t caused delays on other flights.

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