"I could see some smoke and then the whole plane was freaking out."

That's how passenger Hannah Cheal described the terrifying moment she realised something was wrong with the plane she was travelling on from Wellington to Tauranga.

She was one of 41 passengers on board the Link Air New Zealand aircraft which successfully landed at Tauranga Airport today after one of its engines had to be shut down. The cause of the shut down was not yet known.

Shaken by the experience, Cheal said the plane was while flying over mountains when she felt a bang and could see smoke coming from one of the engines.

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"The plane just kept shaking.

"I could see the mountains and then the plane started shaking because apparently, it is so the ice doesn't settle in the engines.

"But then there was a big shock, and it felt like something hit the propeller. I could see some smoke and then the whole plane was freaking out."

She was happy to be safe and on the ground.

"It just makes me realise how important my life is."

Hannah Cheal. Photo / Andrew Warner
Hannah Cheal. Photo / Andrew Warner

Waiting for Cheal was Kirsty Hooker who said her heart stopped when she saw all the police and fire engines pull up.

"I was really worried but when I saw the plane land it was such a relief.

"When it came into sight, there was only one engine. It's that heart in your mouth moment."

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Another passenger who spoke on the condition of anonymity said it was "f****** beautiful" to be back on land.

"The plane vibrated for a good 10 minutes, and then I opened the window [shade] and saw the engine had just stopped working.

"There were two ladies in front of me that were scared and started crying, so I just tried to encourage them."

He said the pilots deserved a lot of praise for getting all the passengers on the ground safely.

"I have been in worse landings, and this one was great considering what happened."

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said pilots chose to shut down one engine on the plane as a precaution after an indication in the flight deck of a potential issue with the engine.


Q300 aircraft are designed and certified to operate safely on a single-engine and pilots are trained for this scenario.

"In line with standard procedures, airport-based emergency services were on standby as a precautionary measure," she said.

She said it was not an emergency landing and engineers will inspect the aircraft.

A Tauranga Airport Rescue Firefighter said one engine had to be shut down and the landing was safe.

He said there were 41 passengers on the plane and had disembarked - none appeared to be injured.

A police media spokesman said police were on standby at the airport for if they needed to assist firefighters.

One flight from Tauranga to Wellington has been cancelled as a result of the landing.

Tauranga Airport manager Ray Dumble said he was happy with the way the airport handled the situation.

Dumble said if he recalled correctly, this was the first time this it had happened in his 17 years working at the airport.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) senior communications Blake Crayton-Brown said situations like this are investigated in the first instance by the airlines.

He said there was nothing to indicate the CAA would need to investigate as it seemed to be handled well.

Crayton-Brown said these things happened often and pilots were well-trained in dealing with such situations, which he said the pilot demonstrated.

An AirNZ flight from Tauranga to Christchurch was delayed, and two AirNZ flights from Auckland and Christchurch into Tauranga were also delayed.

A St John media spokeswoman said they were called to the airport and were on standby but were stood down as they were not needed.