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Jet damages plane in Gisborne

AN AIR Air New Zealand flight to Auckland was cancelled last night after jet engines of a private plane blew a ramp off the commercial flight, which had passengers on board waiting to disembark.

A Gisborne woman said she watched in disbelief as the situation unfolded at about 5pm on the tarmac of Gisborne Airport. The return flight to Auckland was cancelled for safety reasons after the incident.

An investigation is under way involving all parties.

The Air NZ plane had just landed from Auckland and the ramp was down for the passengers to get off.

But before they did, the jet engines of the private plane started up, “just metres away”.

“Those engines should not have been started within such close proximity to another plane,” said the woman, whose mother was due to board the plane.

“If anyone had been on that ramp they would have been seriously harmed. If any staff were on the tarmac, they would have been too.”

“The ramp attached to the Air NZ plane was blown straight back towards the propeller and it looked like it damaged one of the hydraulic struts.”

The Air NZ plane door was also damaged by the pull of the ramp, she said.

“The staff and Air NZ pilot took it very seriously. The plane was inspected and a decision was made for the plane not to take off again.”

The woman said as a result of the cancellation, her mother missed her international connection to London.

Another flight landed at Gisborne Airport at 6pm but, for some reason a decision was made not to send that flight back in place of the damaged aircraft, she said.

Re-booking her mother on another international flight came at a cost of nearly $500.

“But my main issue was that there was a private jet outside the terminal — metres in front of the Air NZ plane — and seconds before the passengers were to get off, the jet engines started up for the private plane to taxi on to the runway.”

An engineer happened to be at the airport seeing off a family member. He helped to inspect the plane, she said.

“I spoke to one of the passengers who was on the plane when it happened and she said they all felt it shake with the force from the jet engines.

“This is not something you want to witness. I couldn’t believe it.”