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Belly landing at Blenheim airport

Published: 8:56AM Monday June 18, 2007 Source: Newstalk ZB

Passengers on board an Air New Zealand Eagle Air flight got a rough start to the week after the small plane made an emergency landing at Blenheim airport on Monday.
Fifteen travellers on a flight from Timaru to Wellington were told to brace for a crash landing because the wheels would not lock into place.

Approaching the runway it looked like any other plane coming into land, but on board it was a different story as the co-pilot informed passenger they were having issues with the landing gear.

"He said...we'll go out the emergency exits and take the brace position and it should be pretty sweet," passenger Derek Zandbergen told ONE News.

And just like that, the pilot of flight NZ2300 delivered his passengers back to earth safely.

The plane landed on its belly just after 9am and firefighters sprayed foam on it, in case fire broke out. Parts of the plane's propellers flew off on the landing - but the mood onboard was calm.

"I was kind of expecting a big bang or something like that but it was more quite a soft touchdown and it was like hooning along in a toboggan a bit of a scrapping sound," says Zandbergen.

It was on approach to Wellington airport that the pilot discovered his undercarriage was faulty. He made the call to divert to Blenheim Airport as closing the smaller airport would cause much less disruption than if Wellington Airport had to be closed.

Eagle Air, which flies the Beech 1900D's for Air New Zealand says it does not know of another Beech having this problem. It is working with the Transport Accident Investigation Commission to find out what happened.

If you have any pictures of the incident, please send them to ONE News via our Your Cam page.