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‘Terrifying moment’ plane’s engine flamed and stopped

June 25, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Passengers have given vivid descriptions of an incident in which an ATR72 turboprop airliner flying a New Zealand regional route turned back shortly after takeoff when flames shot from an engine and crew shut the malfunctioning engine down.

TVNZ in New Zealand said the incident triggered a “full scale emergency” at Napier Airport, with Fire and Emergency positioning fire trucks on the runway as the two-engine plane, flying on one engine, circled and dumped fuel.

A passenger aboard told the channel the plane’s problem became apparent almost immediately after take-off.

“It was the most unusual, it wasn’t climbing either, it was flattening out, it was definite misfiring malfunctioning engine.”

The authoritative Aviation Herald identified the aircraft and flight as an ATR-72-212A operated by Mount Cook Airlines on behalf of Air New Zealand, “performing flight NZ 5018 from Napier to Auckland”.

The plane was “in the initial climb out of Napier when the left engine emitted a series of streaks of flame and sounds of crackling and banging”, the Aviation Herald said. The crew returned to Napier for a safe landing.

“The airline reported the engine surged.”

The Aviation Herald published a photo of the engine taken by passenger Alex Simons.

TVNZ spoke to three passengers. One described how he had looked outside and saw flames coming out of the engine and the propeller slowing down.

“A bit freaky…” he said.

Another witness said flames were visible for about two minutes and then passengers noticed that the propeller had stopped. The witness said he looked for his life jacket. “I thought I was going fishing earlier than I had expected to.”

A third passenger praised the crew, saying that while some passengers were distressed, flight and cabin crew were competent and calm.

In a perfect summation, the third passenger quoted said: “It was just a terrifying moment that people don’t plan on  – but the number of landings equalled the number of takeoffs so therefore that’s a good result.”

Written by Peter Needham

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