Landing gear fault forces Qantas aircraft back to Sydney

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A Qantas Airways aircraft bound for Shanghai had to return to Sydney airport today after the aircraft's landing gear failed to retract fully after take-off.

The Airbus A330-200, local registration VH-EBG, circled above the Tasman sea for two hours to burn fuel so it would be below the maximum landing weight before it landed back at Sydney at 15:00hr, says a Qantas spokesman.

"The service was unable to continue to Shanghai because the drag on the landing gear would have resulted in fuel being burned in excess of the volume required to complete a non-stop flight," says Qantas Group executive government and corporate affairs David Epstein.

There were 197 passengers on board the aircraft, which had departed from Sydney at 11:30hr, says the spokesman.

The landing gear problem had not compromised the safety of the aircraft in any way, says the carrier.

"This was not an emergency situation or landing - at no stage was there any safety issue," says Epstein.

Qantas had transferred all passengers, baggage and cargo to a replacement aircraft, which departed at 16:30hr.