Passengers and crew aboard an Air Canada flight are being credited for their assistance in locating a yacht and its crew in distress off the coast of Australia.

Air Canada flight 033 from Vancouver and another Air New Zealand jet, flying from Auckland, were headed to Sydney when they were both asked to divert course.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority was investigating the signal from an emergency beacon activated at 8:15 a.m. local time Tuesday morning, and wanted help confirming the GPS location.

Flight crew and passengers aboard the Air Canada flight, peering out the windows from an altitude of approximately 6,000 feet, helped locate the yacht 275 nautical miles east of Sydney. The Air New Zealand flight then flew over to confirm the location and nature of the distress.

"AMSA thanks the captains and crews of the Air Canada and Air New Zealand aircraft for their assistance in the search and rescue operation, and their passengers for their patience," the agency said in a statement.

After the vessel's location was confirmed, both the Air Canada Boeing 777 and Air New Zealand A320 continued to Sydney.

A search and rescue aircraft was then dispatched to the location, where contact was made with the solo yachtsman who explained his vessel had been de-masted and was running low on fuel.

A merchant vessel was to provide shelter and assistance until the New South Wales Police ship OPV Nemesis arrived at the remote location.