A Cathay Dragon flight from Taiwan to Hong Kong made an emergency landing on Monday after experiencing a “technical issue” shortly after take-off with sparks reported coming from one of the Airbus A330’s engine exhausts.

Cathay Pacific, the parent company of Cathay Dragon, said flight KA451 from Kaohsiung to Hong Kong made an “air return” and landed safely back at the southern Taiwanese city some 50 minutes after take off.

A Cathay Dragon Airbus A330 File photo: Wikicommons.

An official with Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) told AFP the emergency was caused by a “technical failure on one of the engines” and denied Taiwanese media reports of a bird strike.

The official, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak with media, added an investigation was underway.

Cathay said the safety of its 330 passengers and crew was “at no time” at risk and that a thorough inspection would be carried out of the aircraft.

“There was no indication of an engine fire on the aircraft, however, due to the technical issue, loud noises and sparks were reported coming from the engine exhaust prior to the engine being shut down as per operational procedures,” Cathay told AFP.

The Apple Daily newspaper cited local aviation officials as saying the plane’s right engine emitted smoke during take-off and that local residents nearby said they had heard an explosive sound.

Arrangements were being made to get passengers on new flights, the carrier said.

The emergency landing comes at a time of renewed concern over the safety of a popular passenger jet made by Airbus rival Boeing.

The US aviation giant’s 737 MAX model has experienced two deadly crashes in less than five months, forcing a worldwide grounding of the model.

The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters.  HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.

AFP is a global news agency delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the events shaping our world from wars and conflicts to politics, sports, entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology.