This blog started off by focussing on NZ's smaller 3rd level airlines, past and present. It has evolved to trying to present some record of NZ's domestic airline operations and some of the larger charter operators, interesting NZ international airliner movements and photos I have taken around the country. Comments, corrections or contributions are welcome, Steve - firstname.lastname@example.org
25 May 2016
Did the Door Really Open?
Passengers on board a domestic flight from Kaitaia to Auckland were "bloody scared" when the aircraft's door opened mid-flight while flying through rough weather. Passenger James Snowden told ONE News six people and a pilot boarded the Barrier Air Piper Chieftain plane in Kaitaia about 4.30pm yesterday before it left for Auckland with a scheduled stop in Whangarei. "When we jumped on the ground, crew in Kaitaia had trouble closing the door. I could see a slightly concerned look on his face, but [he] shut it anyway and had no problems even though it was a bit bumpy to Whangarei," he said. After landing in Whangarei he said the pilot informed the remaining four passengers he had no ground crew and needed to close the door from Mr Snowden's seat at the back of the plane. "I asked, 'are you sure that door is shut?' Due to my earlier concerns in Kaitaia. He said, 'no problem'." "We left Whangarei without a hitch, apart from it was very bumpy," Mr Snowden added, before the flight ran into trouble near Auckland. "We must have been over Whangaparaoa when a whole lot of air started coming from the door and it got very loud, I said 'oi' to the pilot as it got louder, he said 'it was to release pressure', but it was an unpressurised plane." Mr Snowden said the aircraft circled over Auckland Airport for what felt like "three times". "The pilot asked how the door looked, we said 'okay', but [we] don't know what it's supposed to look like." It was bloody scary." After landing safely in Auckland, Mr Snowden said the pilot opened the door but before doing so "noticed the red handle [was] up which he had previously put down". He said the pilot was then seen on his haunches by the wing of the plane "breathing very deeply". Mr Snowden added the pilot had earlier mentioned the plane's door had recently been repaired. "There was nothing more mentioned, no explanation or apology. After having time to think, if that door had opened fully it would have torn the tail off with me in it! "It was bloody scary." Another passenger on board the flight confirmed to ONE News the door had opened mid-air. "Not fully but enough to cause concern," he said. "I would also say the pilot did a great job and the weather was fairly rough." Barrier Air has declined to comment when approached by ONE News, while the Civil Aviation Authority said such incidents are required to be reported within two weeks. The seven to eight seater Piper Chieftain aircraft is described on the Barrier Air website as the fastest plane it operates, is "quick and comfortable", and "perfect for Barrier Air's Kaitaia-Auckland service". Barrier Air took over flying to Kaitaia from Air New Zealand on April 28, 2015.
Engineers have inspected and tested a Barrier Air aircraft after its door opened mid-flight while flying to Auckland. The Piper Chieftain plane left Kaitaia for Whangarei about 4.30pm on Tuesday with six passengers and the pilot aboard, before it then completed a flight from Whangarei to Auckland in "rough weather" with five passengers. However, as the aircraft approached Auckland Airport its single door opened, alarming those on the flight. "We must have been over Whangaparaoa when a whole lot of air started coming from the door and it got very loud," passenger James Snowden told ONE News. Another passenger on board the flight also told ONE News the door had opened mid-air. "Not fully but enough to cause concern," said the passenger, who asked not to be named. "I would also say the pilot did a great job and the weather was fairly rough." Mr Snowden said, after the aircraft landed in Auckland, the pilot opened the door but before doing so "noticed the red handle [was] up which he had previously put down". The seven to eight seater Piper Chieftain aircraft is described on the Barrier Air website as the fastest plane it operates, is "quick and comfortable", and "perfect for Barrier Air's Kaitaia-Auckland service". Barrier Air took over flying to Kaitaia from Air New Zealand on April 28, 2015.
The story about the Barrier Air plane door opening mid-flight brings back memories for Winsome Mitchell of Whakatane. "In 2011, our family was holidaying in Alaska. We had hired a local charter company with a small Beaver floatplane to go bear spotting when our pilot spied a pod of orca below and began low circling to give us a clearer view. The passenger door beside my husband suddenly came open and our quick-thinking grandson leaned across and pulled it shut. We landed in a small bay where there were several bears on the shore. But every time anyone tried to tell the pilot about the door, he put his finger to his lips, pointed to the bears and said, "Sssh." When we landed I told the pilot what had happened. His response blew me away. "The plane door came open when we were flying and you didn't even cry? Man, you Kiwis are tough!"