ABC News is this morning claiming the return of a Qantas 717 to Hobart because of a warning light is a fourth unscheduled landing of one of its flights in 48 hours.

This is ignorant reporting. Warning or precautionary indication lights come on from time to time in airliners. Sometimes during pre-flight preparations. Sometimes after arrival. Sometimes mid flight.  Sometimes, as in the case of this Hobart-Melbourne flight the appropriate operating response is to to land at the most useful airport available for the aircraft and the particular circumstances that apply to it.

If the ABC or any other news service is going to include warning light incidents in the same bracket as more substantial mechanical incidents, such as those that earlier affected two Qantas A380s and one Qantas 737-800, we in the media have collectively totally lost touch with normal airline operations reality.

The other Qantas incidents were newsworthy, even entertaining given the idiotic comments from a Qantas spokesperson about air conditioning being optional in the A380 that diverted because of such a problem to Perth, after descending to around 3000 metres, from its flight path from Dubai to Sydney.

That was followed by a 737-800 turnback to Perth full of people affected by apparent smoke inhalation, and the return to Sydney of a second A380 with an electrical issue that had stopped most toilets flushing and affected the inflight entertainment system and some seat controls.

Putting aside a fool in PR, Qantas flight and ground staff handled the three significant incidents with the utmost regard to safety and passenger welfare. The airline doesn’t deserve a comparatively minor interruption to a short flight between Hobart and Melbourne because of a warning light being headlined as a fourth incident in 48 hours story.

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