It was a stormy night in Dallas, Texas, and Qantas flight QF8 was about to take off on its long journey to Brisbane. But as passengers grew restless, the Boeing 747 remained on the tarmac.

Unknown to them, the pilot and second officer were having a furious row in the cockpit.

The pair were arguing about which takeoff calculations they should punch into the plane's computer system - and so heated was their altercation that, in a rare move by the airline, the two men were stood down and the flight delayed until the following day.

Replacement pilots had to be brought in, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.


The incident, which occurred on Tuesday night last week, followed the suspension in late July of a senior female pilot who was removed from the cockpit of a Qantas passenger jet minutes before she was about to take off from Sydney. Cabin crew had reported that they suspected she had been drinking.

The captain - one of fewer than 100 female pilots employed by the airline - recorded a positive reading and Qantas has launched an investigation.

The jumbo leaving Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport last week had already been delayed by thunderstorms, which caused major congestion on the runways. As the pilots argued, they came close to exceeding the maximum 20 hours they can spend on duty. Qantas flight operations managers decided to keep the plane on the ground overnight .

The aircraft, which was flying on to Sydney, arrived in Brisbane 18 hours late. The two pilots have been withdrawn from operational duties while the airline conducts yet another investigation.