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Current as of 31/10/14 07:40PM NZST

Plane in crash landing 'robust'

By Jarrod Booker, Hayden Donnell

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

The manufacturer of a plane forced to crash land without its nose wheel in Blenheim has defended its safety record.

Landing gear on the Q-series Bombardier Dash 8 operated by Air Nelson, a subsidiary of Air New Zealand, failed during a flight between Hamilton and Wellington yesterday.

None of its 44 passengers and crew were injured in an emergency landing at Blenheim Airport.

A statement from Bombardier Commercial Aircraft in Canada said the Q-series planes remained a "robust and reliable aircraft" despite the problems.

More than 1000 Q-series Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft are in service with more than 100 operators around the world, logging 21 million flight hours and more than 26 million take-offs and landings, it said.

Company spokesman John Arnone said the aircraft manufacturer was working with Air New Zealand to prevent a reoccurrence of the landing gear failure.

It would respond to any and all actions recommended by the authorities after a review of the incident, he said.

"We regret any anxiety this caused the passengers on this flight."

Air New Zealand said today there was no intention of grounding the 23-strong fleet of Dash 8 aircraft, pending an investigation.

"Absolutely not, no. You can knock that one on the head," spokeswoman Andrea Dale said.

Last September the nose wheel of an Air New Zealand Dash 8 collapsed as it landed at Blenheim Airport, where it had been diverted from Nelson due to bad weather.

That aircraft also scraped along the runway on its nose before it stopped.

Ms Dale said the two nose wheel incidents did not appear to be related.

The Air Nelson Q300 circled over Wellington trying unsuccessfully to lower the nose wheel, before being diverted to Blenheim Airport about 2pm.

Emergency services were on standby as the plane circled over Blenheim.

Passenger Gary Evans said the atmosphere on the plane changed suddenly from one of calm to high tension when a stewardess screamed "head down, stay down" during the landing.

"It was just a bit shocking when all of a sudden it went from all so calm, then all of a sudden [the stewardess] started screaming 'head down, stay down'," Mr Evans said.

Passenger Colin Hayman praised the actions of the plane's three crew members.

When it came, the landing without the nose wheel was "remarkably smooth" and was followed by a round of applause from the passengers, he said.

Mr Hayman and Mr Evans praised the handling of the incident by the crew, and the "great job" by the pilot.

The passengers were last night offered accommodation or road transport to Nelson for another flight on to Wellington.

- With NZPA

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