A PASSENGER on a plane which made an emergency landing at Auckland Airport today has described the terrifying moment one of the engines cut out.
Kelsi Nichols was sitting on the left side of the plane when the drama unfolded.
"It was probably 10 seconds or less after we left the ground. You could feel the plane surging forward and back. It was absolutely not normal. That carried on for about 10 seconds ... then the left-hand propeller stopped turning.
"I said to the lady next to me 'oh my god, that's our left engine gone'.
"I was thinking 'this is the day I die, the is the day my plane crashes'."
But the plane continued ascending and about 30 seconds later the captain came over the address system, Nichols said.
His calm voice calmed her.
"He said 'sorry folks, I was going to say welcome aboard but things have changed. We've had to shut down the left engine because of a problem, but don't worry the plane is perfectly capable of flying on one engine'. "
Five minutes later they were on the ground, she said.
The flight was almost full and included half a dozen children travelling without their parents, but everyone remained calm during the emergency, Nichols said.
She praised the airline for the way it handled the emergency and aftermath.
A full emergency was declared after an Air New Zealand flight had engine problems as it after it departed Auckland this afternoon.
The airline said in a statement that flight NZ 8117 from Auckland to Palmerston North returned to Auckland after "an indication in the cockpit shortly after take-off there may be an issue affecting one engine".
The pilot elected to shut down the engine, in line with standard operating procedures.
"Q300 aircraft are designed and certified to operate safely on a single engine and pilots are trained for this scenario," the statement said.
The aircraft landed without incident about 2.45pm and is now being inspected by engineers and passengers are being provided with alternative services.
Sarah Lichtensteiger was on the turbo-prop plane when the emergency unfolded.
The plane had only been in the air for a few minutes when it became bumpy and the propeller on the left-hand side of the plane cut out.
"The captain quite calmly said 'there's been a bit of an engine fault and we are going to return to the airport. The hostess said 'there's nothing to panic about', they were really great.
"It wasn't a big crash bang, just a bit of a hiccup."
She was not afraid but noticed some anxious looks among others on the almost full plane.
"A few people were looking out the window."
Those on the fight, which left Auckland about 2.20pm, had been offered the chance to re-book flights later today or stay in a hotel overnight and fly tomorrow, Lichtensteiger said.
She planned to stay overnight, as her journey home to Palmerston North began in Zurich on Thursday.
"I'm very tired."
A police spokeswoman said a "full contingent" of emergency services had been called to the runway.
A Fire Services spokesman said 16 fire crews from surrounding areas were dispatched to the airport but all but one were stood down en route.
- NZ Herald