The aircraft was forced into an evasive maneuver on final approach to the airport after an unmanned hot air balloon drifted into the approach path. Photo/Twitter, @JacdecNew
A Qatar Airways plane was forced into an ‘evasive manoeuvre’ after a hot air balloon drifted into its path.
The Boeing 777-300 had departed Hamad International Airport in Doha on Sunday morning and was on final approach to Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, when an unmanned hot air balloon crossed the centerline of extended track.
This required the crew to detour to the right to avoid hitting the balloon before finally landing the aircraft safely on the runway.
Rafael Freitas, who was then photographing a plane landing at the airport, managed to snap a photo of the incident, while a passenger on board also took a photo of the balloon flying near the plane’s right wing .
The balloon appeared to support an advertising banner. It was unclear how it came so close to the transportation hub.
A local was able to snap a photo of the balloon just before the plane dodged it, sharing the snap on Twitter.
“The Boeing 777 arrived a little out of alignment with the runway to avoid the balloon. When it passed the balloon, it turned around to correct its alignment,” Freitas told local media.
A Qatar Airways spokesperson told news.com.au the flight landed “as usual” and safety margins were maintained at all times.
“Qatar Airways is aware of an event involving one of its aircraft, involving an unmanned balloon, prior to landing in Sao Paulo on Sunday July 3,” the spokesperson said.
“The flight landed normally and safety margins were maintained at all times. The captain filed a report following the flight which is currently under investigation by Brazilian authorities.”
It is understood that although these hot air balloons are illegal, they are common at this time of year in Brazil due to the Festas Juninas – June festivals.
It’s also not the first time something like this has happened. According to a Belgian publication, Aviation24an Avianca Airbus A319 struck a balloon containing streamers that had drifted near Botoga International Airport in Colombia on New Year’s Eve 2020.
Despite the incident, the crew landed the aircraft safely.