News Plane incidents — 12 May 2017

A cockpit warning indicating a problem with the landing gear on an inbound flight sparked an emergency at Hamilton Airport.

An emergency was declared at Hamilton Airport on Friday morning after the Air NZ flight carrying 32 passengers requested an emergency standby for landing.

Fire and police responded to the airport on Airport Rd, closing roads around it.

Geoffrey Andrew was at the airport waiting to pick up his brother Martin Andrew, who had flown up from Palmerston North to attend their father’s 92nd birthday party.

“I arrived here on time. It was supposed to arrive at 10.15am and then I noticed the actual flight information kept being delayed,” Geoffrey said. “It eventually got to 10.48am and that’s when I knew there was something not quite right.”

At that point, Geoffrey got out his phone and looked for the flight online.

It had circled 10 or 20 times, he said.

“That’s when I knew something was up. I went downstairs to get a bit of fresh air and I noticed there were a number of emergency services arriving.

“I raced upstairs and that’s when everyone grouped together and wanted to borrow phones to find out what was going on.

We all tried to contact people on the plane, but nobody answered, obviously.”

It became very unnerving and uncomfortable, Geoffrey said.

“It is the first time I have experienced a family member on a flight which was in trouble and I tell you that position is very uncomfortable.”

Martin, who was on the flight, began wondering what was going on when the landing gear came down and all of a sudden the plane steeply ascended.

“It was strange and nothing was said, we just climbed back up,” Martin said. “They didn’t say anything about the landing gear for a while, but something to do with waiting or a clearance to land.”

Initially, Martin thought the delay was weather related, but then an announcement was made to say there was trouble with the landing gear.

“It wasn’t retracting properly, so they had to telephone the engineers on the ground to sort out the problem.

“We were up there for about an hour just circling.

“Eventually the landing gear came back down, but we were told we could be in for a skid.”

Despite the frightening experience, Martin said passengers were in good spirits.

“Everyone had a few laughs and although we could be scraping along the tarmac, everyone was quite calm.

“They did everything precautionary-wise and kept us informed.

“There was nothing to panic about, it was more the unknown. We just didn’t know what was going to happen, so that made me feel a little bit anxious.”

Afterwards, all passengers were invited into the Koru Lounge for a debrief, Martin said.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson said there was an issue with a cockpit warning indicator on flight NZ8242 from Palmerston North to Hamilton.

“The indicator initially suggested a possible issue with the aircraft’s landing gear on approach to Hamilton; however, all indications then confirmed the landing gear was working correctly and the issue appeared to be with the indicator light itself.

“The captain took a conservative approach and requested emergency services be on standby for the landing as a precaution.”

By 11.35am, the plane had landed safely.

The aircraft would be inspected by engineers.

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