A Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Hong Kong yesterday after an electrical generator failed on the two-year-old jet.
The airline said the Airbus A330-300 left the Malaysian capital at 11.37pm on Sunday and was due at Incheon airport about six hours later. But Flight MH066 was forced to land in Hong Kong at 2.53am due to an "inoperative aircraft generator which supplies normal electrical power".
All 271 passengers were unhurt and were transferred to other carriers.
The incident came as the search continues for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished two weeks ago, and three days after another of the carrier's jets suffered a shattered windscreen when it hit birds as it landed in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Veteran commercial pilot Jeremy Tam Man-ho said there was usually no need to divert a flight if only one generator failed, as there were two others to maintain supply.
However, Tam, who has 13 years' flying experience, said that it was possible that the generator might have overheated, so landing at the nearest airport was preferred because it could have lead to a potentially serious fire.
He said generators were attached to each of the plane's engines on the wings, with a third auxiliary unit at the rear.
"The generators are used to power facilities such as televisions, cockpit devices and the aircraft's lights," he said.
Malaysia Airlines said that after the breakdown, supply was continued by the auxiliary unit.
Consultant group CAPA Centre for Aviation said the Malaysia Airlines fleet of 15 Airbus A330-300s was only two years old.
Dr Steve Thatcher, senior aviation engineering lecturer at the University of South Australia, said it was not uncommon for modern aircraft to have problems early in their operating lives.