Pilot's poor communication blamed for 'panic' during two hour Tauranga landing

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Source:

RNZ rnz.co.nz

A passenger on board an Air New Zealand plane that had to circle over Tauranga Airport for almost two hours says there needed to be better communication from the crew about what was happening.

An Air New Zealand plane had to circle over Tauranga Airport for almost two hours yesterday.

Source: RNZ rnz.co.nz

Flight NZ 8262 from Wellington landed without incident at about 9.15pm last night.

The pilots had earlier reported a landing gear indication fault and requested emergency services be on standby on the runway.

Passenger John Hurihanganui said the first inkling he got that something was wrong was when the pilot aborted their first landing.

"We circled two or three times before we heard from the captain, who said that there was some kind of technical malfunction that they needed to sort out.

"[The captain said] they've got plenty of fuel, so they'll be circling around. We were told at that time that we would be on the ground in about 10 minutes," Mr Hurahanganui said.

But that didn't happen.

"Twenty-five minutes later or so it started to become quite repetitive being told, 'Oh, in 10 minutes this will happen and that will happen.' And, actually, not only did it not happen but we weren't updated. It was probably the most frustrating thing."

As the plane kept circling, passengers were getting increasingly uncomfortable.

"I could hear people around me and behind me starting to raise their voices, I guess in panic," he said.

The situation wasn't helped by the lack of information from the crew. Air New Zealand could have done better.

There were 50 passengers and three crew on board the Bombardier Q300 aircraft.

In a statement Air New Zealand told 1NEWS "the first obligation of the pilots is to ensure the continued safe operation of the aircraft".

The airline says in such situations the pilots work through detailed check lists and last night they carried out several passes of the airfield in order for the control tower to make a visual check.

"Despite what was a high workload in the cockpit, the pilots briefed passengers on two separate occasions," the statement reads.

"Once the flight was safely on the ground, all passengers were invited into the Air New Zealand lounge at Tauranga airport and 40 of the 50 passengers accepted this invitation.

"They were given a full debrief on the situation by an Air New Zealand pilot who outlined the safety and engineering processes our pilots and crew followed as they prepared to land the aircraft and answered any questions the passengers had."

Air New Zealand responds

In a statement Air New Zealand told 1NEWS "the first obligation of the pilots is to ensure the continued safe operation of the aircraft".

The airline says in such situations the pilots work through detailed check lists and last night they carried out several passes of the airfield in order for the control tower to make a visual check.

"Despite what was a high workload in the cockpit, the pilots briefed passengers on two separate occasions," the statement reads.

"Once the flight was safely on the ground, all passengers were invited into the Air New Zealand lounge at Tauranga airport and 40 of the 50 passengers accepted this invitation.

"They were given a full debrief on the situation by an Air New Zealand pilot who outlined the safety and engineering processes our pilots and crew followed as they prepared to land the aircraft and answered any questions the passengers had."

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