• US aircraft was flying 256 passengers from Melbourne, Australia, to Los Angeles 
  • It was diverted to the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia on Monday 
  • ‘The passengers are disembarking calmly,’ said an official 


A United Airlines Boeing 787-900 jet heading from Melbourne, Australia, to Los Angeles, had to make an emergency landing on Monday after reports of smoke coming from the cockpit.

The US aircraft flying 256 passengers touched down safely at La Tontouta airport in New Caledonia’s capital Noumea.

‘The passengers are disembarking calmly,’ said the official from the local Chamber of Commerce which runs the airport.

‘It seems that there was some smoke coming out of the cockpit.’

Passenger Juan Mundel told DailyMail.com: ‘There was smoke and we landed in about 30 minutes. It was a smooth landing.

‘People at New Caledonia were awesome, there were four to five fire cars ready and ambulances.’

It comes after an Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people on March 10 led to the global grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.

This followed a Lion Air crash in Indonesia last October that left 189 dead, which raised major concerns about the safety certification of the 737 MAX 8 model.

The Nouvelles-Caledoniennes (Caledonian News) website reported that oxygen masks automatically dropped down in the cabin of the United Airlines plane.

According to the local RRB radio station, no one was hurt and all the passengers would spend the night in Noumea, 2,700 kilometres (1,650 miles) northeast of Melbourne.