Two dead as planes collide near Palmerston North

Two people are confirmed dead after two light planes collided near Shannon in the Manuwatu this morning.

Inspector Michael Coleman said two light planes from Massey crashed in mid air near Shannon, 33km southwest of Palmerston North.

Both the sole occupants have been confirmed dead, he said.

Police were at the two crash sites and Civil Aviation had been advised.

He did not confirm reports that the aircraft involved were top dressing planes .

Local resident Brian Jones told NZPA he was outside pruning fruit when he heard a huge bang.

"I was outside when I heard a bang and that's when the plane did a whirly-down to the ground," said Mr Jones, 75, who lives near the site of the accident.

"After that I saw a wing come down."

The two people killed were Massey University pilots believed to have been training for their commercial licenses, Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Bill Sommer said.

The New Zealand Rescue Co-ordination Centre was alerted to the crash about 10am after a report of wreckage on the ground north of Shannon.

Mr Sommer said both pilots were confirmed dead and no-one else was believed to be on either plane.

Ken Mitchell, a communications manager for Airways New Zealand, which is responsible for air traffic in controlled airspaces, said the planes were in an uncontrolled space, where pilots took responsibility for their own navigation and safety.

Mr Sommer said the Accident Investigation Commission or Civil Aviation Authority would now be investigating.- NZPA 

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