A Los Angeles-bound flight carrying more than 270 passengers caught fire in mid-air on Saturday and returned to Australia, airport authorities said.
Flames trailed from the jumbo jet after an engine failed, said officials at the Los Angeles International Airport.
Passengers endured 90 traumatic minutes in the skies over Sydney and reported hearing a loud bang, said the officials, who refused to be named.
The plane left Sydney at 11:35 a.m. (Australian time) with 274 passengers and developed problems within about 15 minutes.
A loud noise was heard as flames trailed from one of the Boeing 747's engines. The plane landed at 1.20 p.m. and it was expected that the passengers would be kept at the airport until a replacement aircraft was ready at about 9 p.m.
Passengers were told that while the aircraft could fly with three of four engines functioning, the pilot was going to make an early landing.
Airport officials said the problem was like an engine surge, similar to a car backfiring. The pilot shut down the faulty engine and dumped the plane's fuel load so it could land, they said.
(Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2007)