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Air NZ plane makes emergency landing

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May 4, 2007 - 10:59AM The Age, Melb


New Zealand MPs were among more than 120 passengers on an Air New Zealand Boeing 737 forced to make an emergency landing at an air force base.


The flight from Wellington to Auckland made an emergency landing at Ohakea, 30km north-west of Palmerston North, at 9.30pm last night after smoke was smelt in the aircraft.


The flight landed on its second attempt as the crew was not sure the landing gear was down on the first attempt.


The 122 passengers got off the plane without incident.


Members of Parliament Murray McCully, Richard Worth, Mark Gosche and David Cunliffe were among the passengers.


"There was certainly a little smoke in the air. It was perceptible at the front of the passenger cabin and I imagine more than that in the cockpit. People were cool, calm and collected but there was the odd nervous joke," Mr Cunliffe said on Radio New Zealand.


A replacement Air New Zealand aircraft departed Ohakea at 2.30am and landed at 3.15am in Auckland, Air NZ said.


It is believed the replacement aircraft was delayed by negotiations with the Civil Aviation Authority over whether it was allowed to land at Ohakea.


Last night emergency services from Palmerston North were called to assist the Ohakea ground crew when word of the impending emergency landing came from the plane.


It was also reported police blocked off roads around the air base in case the flight had to land on a road.


Air New Zealand spokesman David Jamieson told NZPA 122 passengers and crew were onboard the plane en route to Auckland from Wellington when the pilot turned back about 100km north of Ohakea.


"The pilot decided to divert to Ohakea because the crew smelt smoke."


The emergency landing had gone smoothly and all the passengers got off the plane without incident.


Engineers travelled to Ohakea on the replacement aircraft. The 737 remains at Ohakea.


Passengers were accommodated in a gymnasium at the airbase until the new plane arrived.





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