An Air Canada aircraft helped locate a yacht in distress in waters between Australia and New Zealand.

The flight from Vancouver to Sydney was diverted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority after it spotted an emergency beacon activated in the Tasman Sea.

Pilots descended to 5,905ft altitude and used a passenger’s binoculars to find the vessel, according to reports this morning.

The boat and its lone sailor was found about 310 miles east of the Australian city.

The yachtsman reportedly left the Sydney area about two weeks earlier and had been drifting for about one week after losing his mast and running low on fuel.

The Air Canada Boeing 777 from Vancouver, with 270 passengers and 18 crew, was diverted after about 12 hours flying time. It flew an additional 400km as a result of the diversion.

The aircraft landed in Sydney some 90 minutes behind schedule, an Air Canada spokesman told the Globe and Mail newspaper.

The emergency beacon was spotted at about 8:15am local time on Tuesday, AMSA said.

An Air New Zealand Airbus 320 en route to Sydney from Auckland was also diverted before an Australian rescue plane arrived and dropped a life-raft and satellite phone down to the stranded seaman.

A merchant vessel was also asked to shield the boat from strong winds until a police vessel could reach the sailor.

An AMSA spokesman told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the help of the passenger jets had been needed because of the remote location of the yacht.