Airport incidents weird and scary

A breakaway plane, birds nesting in stabilisers, and an aircraft hit by wind-blown roofing iron are all on a list of incidents at New Zealand airports.

The official information, issued by the Civil Aviation Authority, shows a mixture of frightening and weird safety incidents at main airports this year and last.

It shows Wellington airport - with 39 incidents - is most prone to safety issues, based on the number of incidents compared to aircraft movements from last year.

CAA spokesman Mike Richards said Wellington's rate was "higher, but not that much higher" than other airports.

The figures also show air travel in New Zealand - including Wellington - is remarkably safe. The reported incidents account for only a tiny fraction of the almost one million aircraft movements in New Zealand last year.

Ayolt Wiertsema, of Wellington Airport, said reporting of the incidents - many of them minor - was "essential for our safety management system".

Paraparaumu - where a plane and helicopter collided in midair in 2008, killing three people - reported five incidents. Three were averted by aircraft taking evasive action.

Kapiti Coast Airport chief executive Robert Binney said it was "very much a safety-conscious organisation", and all incidents were reported, as required by the CAA.

The list includes an aircraft wingtip hitting a fence in Auckland; a plane in New Plymouth breaking loose in gales and crashing, just missing two other aircraft; and birds nesting in stabilisers in Queenstown. The nest was cleared before takeoff.

Click here to view graphics on mobile.

The Dominion Post