An Air New Zealand flight landing at Auckland airport is under investigation after it “lost directional control” and crashed into the runway lights.
Turbulent weather and heavy rain affected Air NZ flight NZ124 as it went to land from its trip from Melbourne to Auckland.
Australian Aviation’s Blair Dods was on board.
“We landed just as the storm was intensifying and it wasn’t until we were a few metres above ground that we could see the runway,” he said.
“Even then, the rain was so heavy we couldn’t really see anything out the window.
“The landing felt different from normal, but it was so hard to see anything that it was difficult to get a full perspective of it. If we had been able to see clearly, I think there would have been a lot more panic.
“There were a few gasps and people looking around, but there was zero mention of it by the pilots or the attendants after the event.”
According to New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC), the pilot of the Boeing 777, ZK-OKN, briefly lost control during the landing.
“Shortly after touchdown, the pilot briefly lost directional control, and the aircraft veered away from the runway centreline,” said Naveen Kozhuppankalam, the TAIC’s chief accident investigator.
“The pilot regained control, completed the landing, and taxied the aircraft to the airport terminal.
“There was damage reported to six runway edge lights and to the aircraft’s undercarriage assembly, including deflation of one tyre.”
Onboard the flight it wasn’t obvious that an accident had occurred.
“It wasn’t until I saw the news item that I realised the damage to the runway was caused by our flight,” said Dods.
“I have probably done over a thousand flights and have never landed in conditions like that before.
“There was a strange noise on landing, but we didn’t think anything of it.
“[It] was probably the lights.”
Chief operational integrity and safety officer for Air New Zealand David Morgan has said that it would be working with the TAIC to determine the cause of the incident, but that it was wrong to assume it was a pilot error.
“As the investigation is only now under way, it’s incorrect to assume this was a pilot error as is being reported. The TAIC have updated their statement to reflect this,” he said.
Kozhuppakalam has confirmed that nobody on board was injured and that two investigators have been chosen to investigate.
“Their initial work will be to interview the aircraft crew, air traffic controllers, relevant airport staff and other witnesses,” he said.
“They will also inspect the aircraft and runway systems, examining the site of the incident, obtaining any electronic recorded data and records. The investigation team have expert knowledge of aircraft operations, engineering and maintenance.”