Intruder forces cancellation of
passenger flight to Auckland
Police have a called an attempt to break into an Air New Zealand plane at Kapiti Coast Airport an “expensive” prank.
Police and Air Nelson have launched an investigation after a flight was cancelled today after someone tried to force open the door of a Bombardier Q300 aircraft at Paraparaumu airport, causing the emergency escape chute to inflate
Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan, of the Kapiti Police, says that between 6pm yesterday on Thursday and 8am today someone got onto the airport ramp where planes were parked and tried to force open the emergency exit door of a plane.
Intruder failed to get inside airliner
He says the person did not get inside the 50-seat plane, which is flown by Air New Zealand subsidiary Air Nelson.
But the 6.55am flight to Auckland — and a later flight — had to be cancelled.
Air Nelson General Manager Grant Kerr says the incident disrupted the travel plans of many people heading to Auckland this morning because the flight had to be cancelled.
‘Lives put at risk’
And the airline says the stunt put people’s lives at risk.
It says its ground handlers who were carrying out a runway and tarmac inspection before the first flight of the day, noticed the Q300’s ‘ditching dam’ device had been deployed, and alerted the pilot even before they had carried out their first-flight inspection.
A ditching dam is a 30cm long, nitrogen-inflated rubber buffer, intended to keep water out of the aircraft in the event of a ditching.
Police Head says theft may have been aim
Senior Sgt Macmillan says he believes the intruder or intruders may have wanted to steal something from the Air New Zealand aircraft.
“It may have been curiosity – it’s a stupid, idiotic, expensive prank or adventure that these people or person has attempted, and we’d certainly like to find who’s responsible.”
Air Nelson says the aircraft has been put through a complete systems check this morning, and no other damage or interference has been found. It was later repaired and put back into service.
Kapiti Coast Airport chief executive Steve Bootten confirms the aircraft apron is fully flood-lit overnight, and says the airport will be meeting with Air Nelson to see consider what else can be done to ensure the security of unattended aircraft.
Kapiti Coast Airport opened at the end of October following a long battle over planning rules by owner Sir Noel Robinson.
Sir Noel bought the airport in 2006 and sparked strong local opposition after revealing plans for the 30-year redevelopment.
About $4 million was spent upgrading the runway and aviation services and developing a new terminal on the site.
The airport now offers flights with Air New Zealand subsidiary Air Nelson, as well as charter flights.