A Los Angeles-bound Qantas Airways Boeing 747 jetliner returned to Sydney Saturday after flames began streaming out from an engine, the airline said.
The engine was immediately shut down and none of the 274 passengers and crew on board were in danger, Qantas spokesman Lloyd Quartermaine said.
The problem emerged 10 minutes after takeoff as Flight QF149 was flying over Sydney's northern beach suburbs, he said. Local media reports said Sydney residents were startled to see flames streaming from an engine.
The jumbo jet returned to Sydney airport on three engines more than an hour later after dumping fuel as a safety precaution, he said.
"At this stage, we believe it was an engine surge which can lead to a flame jetting out the back of it, but it is not an engine explosion," Quartermaine said.
He said passengers had been offered seats on board other flights and a replacement plane was scheduled to depart late Saturday.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau spokesman Ian Brokenshire said there was no obvious damage to the engine's exterior but his office had yet to receive an inspection report from Qantas.
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