Emergency landing at Blenheim
Blenheim Airport is expected to be closed overnight after a passenger plane landed without its nose wheel down.
Airport manager Dean Heiford said it would probably be closed overnight because the plane was still on the runway, which required checking after the emergency.
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The Bombardier Dash 8 plane carrying 44 people landed safely at Blenheim Airport about 2.45pm, despite its nose wheel failing during landing after it did not lock into place.
The airport was put on full alert after the plane was diverted from Wellington Airport.
Heiford said one plane due to fly into Blenheim during the emergency was diverted to Wellington this afternoon, while all other flights were cancelled.
Passengers at Blenheim waiting to fly out where being directed to Nelson or advised to go home and rebook for tomorrow.
"I'm not holding out much hope for it being opened today."
Fire crews from Woodbourne, Blenheim, Renwick and Nelson were called to the scene during this afternoon's emergency, but the plane touched down with a good third of the runway to spare.
The plane, operated by Air New Zealand subsidiary Air Nelson, circled the airport at least four times before landing. Passengers, some carrying children, were able to walk from the plane. There were no reported injuries.
Colin Hayman, who was on board the plane, said it was a "huge relief" when it landed safely.
"Coming into land was a bit nervewracking and we are all relieved that everyone is okay," he said.
Hayman, who was flying home from a business trip, said the plane's landing was relatively smooth despite the missing nose wheel.
"Everyone was very calm and the crew were really good, the stewardess communicated everything the pilot said so we knew what was going on."
He said there were children on board the plane but they were oblivious to the landing problems.
Hayman said the disembarked passengers had all been waiting together at Blenheim Airport for over an hour awaiting a bus to transport them to Nelson Airport so they could fly back to Wellington.
Air New Zealand confirmed the plane had been on a flight from Hamilton to Wellington when it suffered a nose-wheel failure.
Photographs appear to show the plane wihtout a wheel but a Air NZ spokeswoman said the wheel was still attached to the plane but it had not correctly locked into place for landing.
There were 41 passengers and three crew on board. They were being looked after in the terminal and alternative transport was being arranged.
Blenheim winegrower Trevor Kenny was driving from Blenheim to Renwick when he saw the police, ambulance and fire crews pass him.
He pulled over and parked on the grass verge outside the airport and saw the plane circling around with no nose wheel visible.
"They will be frightened as hell,'' he said.
Nearly 100 cars were parked outside the airport, as people stood by the fence looking up with binoculars and cameras.
A couple of onlookers clapped when the plane landed.
The incident mirrors one on September 30 last year, when another Air Nelson plane crash-landed at the airport. That Dash 8's nose wheel collapsed during landing, but there were no injuries.
The Dash 8 is a medium range, twin-engined passenger aircraft, used on regional routes in New Zealand.
On June 19, a Beech 1900 aircraft landed under a full emergency at Blenheim Airport after it was diverted from Wellington because the pilot thought the front tyre might be flat.
It landed safely with 12 passengers and two crew on board. It was three years and one day since the same aircraft, carrying 17 people, belly landed at the airport after its landing gear became stuck.
The Marlborough Express