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Air NZ says 'bird strike' may have led its jet to make emergency landing

June 9, 2011 - Wellington

Air New Zealand has said that a 'bird strike' might have caused engine problems on board one of its jets today, leading it to make an emergency landing at Auckland Airport.

The Air NZ Boeing with 206 passengers on board started to face problems shortly before 3pm (local time) this afternoon, and was forced to make an emergency landing following engine trouble, reports.

Air NZ said that the incident occurred just after takeoff at 1800 feet, "with bird strike a possibility".

"The Captain elected to shut down the left hand engine. The Captain briefed the 206 passengers onboard, including explaining that any flame seen from the engine is not unusual when it is shut down in flight," it added.

An eyewitness described seeing flames from the back shortly after take-off.

"We were driving along and I was watching a plane climb and its left engine just threw some fire out the back," an eyewitness said, adding that he noticed three "decent balls of flame", about the size of the engine itself.

"It was really quite something... It would've given the people on the plane, I'm sure, a hell of a fright," he added.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority has said that it is aware of the incident, and would wait until it had further details before deciding whether an inquiry would begin.


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