An Air New Zealand plane apparently lost cabin pressure and passengers were forced to use oxygen masks on a flight from Wellington to Auckland this morning.
Michael Donaldson, a passenger on the plane, a Boeing 737, which left Wellington at 7.30am, said about 15 minutes before it was to start landing procedures the oxygen masks dropped from the panels and a continuous "this is an emergency" was played over the PA system.
Donaldson said the plane then went into a "very steep" descent which lasted for about five minutes before it levelled out again. He said the flight attendants were calm and controlled but a few people were panicking.
"It was the scariest experience I have ever had in a plane," he said.
The plane was able to continue flying at a lower altitude and passengers were eventually told they could stop using the oxygen masks. The plane landed without further incident.
Donaldson said after landing the pilot came out and said it had been a "real deal emergency" but everything went fine as the crew "were trained for this".
Air New Zealand Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer, Captain David Morgan, said NZ414 "experienced a gradual loss of cabin pressure on approach to Auckland which caused the oxygen masks to automatically deploy in the cabin".
"The pilots immediately initiated a descent to 7000 feet and the cabin crew advised passengers that oxygen masks were no longer required at that point.
"The aircraft landed without further incident and engineers are now investigating the cause of the incident."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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