Passengers in scary ride as Air NZ plane heads back on one engine
About three minutes into the climb there was a loud bang, vibrating then flames and smoke. John Roberts, passenger
Passengers on a flight out of Hawke’s Bay have told of the moment the aircraft started juddering and flames shot out of an engine.
Stacey Smith was sitting close to the left engine when the plane started “spitting fireballs”.
“I wasn’t scared — I was just having yarns with the people on board.”
Karuna Chawla was sitting next to him. The trauma proved too much for the Aucklander who burst into tears as the situation unfolded. She didn’t think they were going to land at one stage.
“When we landed we all started clapping and shouting with relief.”
Isaac Wilkinson was sitting behind the left side engine.
“Obviously it’s a little scary. It’s something you don’t really expect to happen but I knew they were going to fly it like they were trained to.”
Another passenger, John Roberts, said engineers had been consulted before take-off.
“About three minutes into the climb there was a loud bang, vibrating then flames and smoke — suffice to say as we were out over the sea there were some worried people albeit all stayed calm.”
Seventy-one passengers and four crew members were on Air New Zealand flight NZ5018 when the engine trouble began about 10 minutes after take off at 3.20pm from Napier airport. The ATR72-500 aircraft returned safely to Napier.
Roberts said: “The Air NZ staff were brilliant — calm and reassuring. We circled over the sea for 20 minutes on one engine then came back into land at Napier — safely thank goodness.”
Passenger Nicholas Chang said: “They told us to stay calm. The crew were great. The pilot reassured us and told us what had happened — that we had engine failure and were gliding smoothly on one engine.”
A local resident who did not wish to be named said they heard a “very loud spluttery noise that sounded like a really old plane spluttering and the cats freaked out”. She said they saw the plane as it was taking off.
“We could see large sparks of orange as it headed south. We watched the plane circle round until it disappeared over the coast and then we saw it head back.”
Another resident said they were used to planes flying overhead but this time it wasn’t right.
“This one sounded wrong — way too loud, irregular and rough.”
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman described the situation as an engine surge shortly after take-off.
“This resulted in the fuel burning unevenly leading to the engine back firing, similar to what you might experience in a car.”
The plane is designed to operate safely with one engine.
“Engineers have since checked the aircraft and confirmed there was no fire, and no visible damage to the engine.”
Flames fire out from the engine of an Air New Zealand ATR plane shortly after take-off from Napier airport.