Qatar Airways plane narrowly misses balloon over Brazil airport

Pilot swerved to avoid advertising banner near Sao Paulo terminal

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A Qatar Airways plane had to dodge a balloon that floated into its flight path near Brazil's busiest airport.

Pilots quickly adjusted their course as the aircraft prepared to land at Sao Paulo's Guarulhos International Airport on Sunday, reports said.

A photographer on the ground and a passenger on the flight captured how close the Boeing 777-300ER from Doha came to the balloon, which appeared to be supporting an advertising banner.

It was not clear how it came so close to the transport hub.

Qatar Airways told local media it was “aware of an event concerning one of its aircraft involving an unmanned balloon before landing in Sao Paulo” on Sunday, July 3.

“The flight landed as normal and safety margins were maintained at all times. The captain filed a report following the flight, which is now being investigated by the Brazilian authorities.”

Reports say such balloons are illegal but they are commonly seen during the country's month of June festivals, the Festas Juninas.

Rafael Freitas, who was photographing aircraft at the airport, told local media that “the Boeing 777 came in a little misaligned with the runway to avoid the balloon. When it had passed the balloon, it turned to correct its alignment”.

Qatar Airways is set to increase its twice-daily flights between Sao Paulo and Doha to three flights because of the Qatar World Cup, to cater for tens of thousands of football-loving Brazilians.

Balloon incidents are rare but not unheard of.

On New Year's Eve, 2020, an Avianca Airbus A319 hit a balloon containing streamers that had drifted near Bogota International in Colombia. The crew landed the plane safely.

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Updated: July 09, 2022, 4:59 AM