Pas­sen­gers in scary ride as Air NZ plane heads back on one engine

Weekend Herald - - News - Photo / Alex Si­mons

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.

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