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Plane scare shakes passengers

Sunday 8 May 2011 5:29 p.m.

By Tony Reid

Onboard Air New Zealand flight 417 to Wellington, moments after its right engine went down, passengers feared for their lives.

“I just literally thought we were going to die, I thought this was it,” says one passenger, Brian Childs.

“We heard this like a thump and then the plane just basically corkscrewed up and down and left and one of the hostesses fell over and cut her arm a bit,” another passenger, Simon Hoffman, says.

The pilot explained to the 95 passengers what he knew. In the minutes before, there were terrifying scenes.

“One of the gentlemen had gone really white and they were running almost up the cabin which was frightening for us because we didn't know what was happening and pulling the curtain across, obviously it was serious,” says passenger Lorraine Cunneen.

The 737-300 departed Auckland at 9.30 this morning. It got into trouble above New Plymouth, then turned round and headed back for Auckland.

“It was just a loud bang and I thought it was the front wheel or the hatch had come loose or open or whatever but the plane lurched one way then the other then started to dive,” says Mr Childs.

In the end the plane landed safely in Hamilton with emergency services on standby.

Air New Zealand wouldn't be interviewed on camera but told 3 News low oil pressure in the right engine caused the pilot to shut the engine down. Engineers are working to find out what caused the problem, and the plane has been grounded until further notice.

When the plane did land, there were cheers for the pilot. Most passengers were relieved to be alive, but one never had a doubt.

From Hamilton they were taken by bus back to Auckland airport, and put on new flights to Wellington.

3 News

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