Emergency Air New Zealand landing performed with no landing gear

Monday, June 18, 2007

Blenheim, where the emergency landing occurred.

An Air New Zealand Beechcraft performed an emergency landing at Blenheim after being diverted from its destination following a landing gear problem.

The Beechcraft 1900D was being flown by Eagle Air, a subsidiary of Air New Zealand, flying from Timaru to Wellington with 15 passengers and two air crew on board.

When arriving at Wellington, the landing gear would not lower, forcing flight NZ 2300 to be diverted to the RNZAF Base Woodbourne, Blenheim where it landed on its belly at around 9.00 a.m.. The plane was badly damaged, and immediately covered in foam as is standard policy and as a safety precaution.

The air base was expected to be closed for around two hours as cranes cleaned up the wreckage.

Eagle Air General Manager, Doug Roberts said that their initial assessment is that the crew did an excellent job, and executed a text book wheels up landing. "Our pilots undergo some of the most extensive training in the industry and dealing with emergency situations like this is a cornerstone of their training."

A man from Wellington on board with his son and partner, said that he was a bit "freaked out", but was fine after the landing, praising the landing performed by the experienced pilot.

Marty Solomon says that all passengers were informed throughout the journey of what was happening, and were well prepared for the crash landing.

Two of the passengers, one of whom was pregnant, were sent to hospital for check ups.

A special support crew is now being flown to Blenheim by Air New Zealand to help those affected by today's emergency landing. They say that most of the passengers will now continue the rest of their journey today.

Eagle Air and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission will now investigate the incident.

Eagle flies 17 other Beechcraft, and service by those planes is continuing as normal today, as they are considered to be extremely reliable.