ANXIETY was in the air as passengers were told to "brace" for landing because their Tamworth-bound plane had suffered a potential technical issue.
"People were in pretty good spirits but were a bit anxious," passenger Alice Salomon told the Leader.
Ms Salomon was travelling from Sydney to Tamworth on board Qantaslink flight QF2008 on Sunday evening for a work trip.
She said the plane was nearing the country music capital when a turbulent situation took off.
The pilot told passengers a technical issue had been detected and confirmed a short time later that the aircraft would be diverted back to Sydney.
Ms Salomon said everyone on board was told to prepare for an emergency landing.
"The flight attendants gave us a briefing about what that all meant and got us to practice the brace position," she said.
"Then we had what felt like a very long flight back to Sydney."
Ms Salomon said the flight crew remained positive and helpful as passengers tried not to panic.
She said people held hands with those flying alone and chatted to each other, but plenty of passengers also pulled their phones out to send messages about what was going down.
She said she sent her husband a list of passwords - just to be practical.
The flight approached a long runway at Sydney airport and was grounded safely without incident.
The Qantaslink Dash-8 plane was met by emergency services, though no one was injured.
"We got into the brace position for landing and the pilot did a really good job," Ms Salomon said.
"Everyone was clapping and cheering."
Passengers were bussed to the terminal before being put up in Sydney for the night with meals.
They were flown to Tamworth first thing Monday morning. Ms Salomon said it was good to "rip the bandaid off" after the night before.
A Qantas spokesperson confirmed pilots on flight QF2008 had received an alert in the cockpit about a potential issue with hydraulics.
The spokesperson said all procedures were followed ahead of the priority landing.
"At no point was the aircraft at risk of not landing on the runway," the spokesperson said.
"Passengers were informed that the aircraft may need to be towed to the gate after landing due to the hydraulic issue.
"We understand this would have been a very unsettling experience for our passengers and sincerely thank them for their cooperation throughout the flight."
Engineers have since inspected the plane and cleared it for travel.
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