Aussie 747 pilots grounded for quarreling

CANBERRA, Australia — Qantas Airways Ltd. grounded two pilots who quarreled in the cockpit of their Boeing 747 jumbo jet at a Dallas airport last week, the airline and an aviation official said Tuesday.

The argument happened two weeks after Qantas, Australia’s biggest airline, grounded another pilot for attempting to fly while under the influence of alcohol.

Qantas said in a statement Tuesday that the captain and second officer were grounded pending an investigation. It declined to detail their behavior.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said the pilots had a heated argument over what takeoff calculations to enter into the plane’s computer.

It said Qantas flight operations managers heard about the argument after they decided to delay the flight overnight because weather delays had put the pilots close to their 20-hour duty limits. The plane, flight QF8 from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to the Australian city of Brisbane on Aug. 14, left the next day with replacement pilots.

An Australian aviation official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case, confirmed the newspaper report.

“It got to a point where the two of them didn’t feel they could work together,” said the official, adding that there was no suggestion of threats or violence during the quarrel.

The 8,600-mile direct flight from Texas to Australia is close to the limit of the jumbo jet’s flying range.

A Qantas pilot was grounded two weeks ago after she exceeded the limit for pilots of 0.02 percent alcohol in the blood as she was about to fly a Boeing 767-300 from Sydney to Brisbane.

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