A passenger plane from Wellington had to make an emergency landing in Blenheim yesterday after a side panel came loose mid-flight.
Marlborough Airport manager Dean Heiford said a Cessna Caravan operated by Sounds Air was heading to Koromiko Airport when the engine cover came loose about 12.50pm.
It is understood six passengers and the pilot were on board.
The aircraft landed heavily on the runway but came to a stop safely and no-one was injured, Mr Heiford said.
New Zealand Defence Force rescue fire service, police and airport staff were called to the scene in preparation for the plane's landing.
Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford said a heat deflector that stopped the engine from overheating came loose during the flight, causing a loud bang.
"[The problem] was very minor ... the engine was fine, it just gave everyone a fright, as you can imagine," he said.
"The plane landed as normal and the pilot did well."
The pilot diverted the flight to Marlborough Airport, the closest fully equipped airport, to determine the cause of the bang. It was repaired and back in service yesterday afternoon, Mr Crawford said.
Picton man Travis Harvey was on board the plane and said there was a "massive jolt" about 10 minutes into the flight.
The door started shaking, he said. "I'm not a panicky kinda person so I was fine ... it woke the guy up in front of me."
Mr Harvey was sitting at the back of the plane and was told by the other passengers that the plane was going to land in Blenheim rather than Koromiko, he said. "The landing was fine and the pilot was brilliant."
Hutt Valley woman Trena Jacomb was on board the flight with her two granddaughters and said everyone appeared calm on the outside.
"It was a bit of a tummy frightener, we're just happy to be back," Mrs Jacomb said.
Mr Crawford said the Transport Accident Investigation Commission had told him there was no need to investigate the incident
- The Marlborough Express
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