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Man sucked into plane engine named

Published: 9:07AM Monday August 08, 2011 Source: ONE News / Fairfax

An aircraft engineer killed after he was sucked into a plane engine at Woodbourne Airbase near Blenheim has been named.

He was Miles Hunter, aged 51, of Renwick.

Hunter worked for Safe Air, which runs a maintenance service for the military at the site and is a subsidiary of Air New Zealand. He had been with the company since 2005.

Air NZ said Hunter was sucked into a Rolls Royce T56 Turbo Prop during routine testing this morning at a remote corner of the airbase. There was no propeller on the engine at the time and the engine was not attached to a plane.

Air NZ chief executive Rob Fyfe said everyone was at a "complete loss" as to what went wrong.

"It was a very routine procedure with very experience people involved," he told ONE News.

"This will be felt deeply across the people, not just at the base, but the whole community."

The death is a first for Air NZ, but similar accidents have happened overseas. A US navy serviceman survived after being sucked into a jet engine on an aircraft carrier in 1991.

The Labour Department and police are investigating today's accident and Air NZ is conducting its own internal inquiry.

Woodbourne is home to the Air Force's only heavy maintenance facility for the repair of engines, airframes and avionics which was commercialised in 1998 and is now run by Safe Air.

Around 450 contractors work at the maintenance facility.

The airport, 8km west of Blenheim, is also used by the Air Force for training new pilots and by commercial carriers.

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