Airlines differ on safety judgment

20:51, Jan 04 2013

While Jetstar cancelled a number of Airbus A320 Wellington flights on Wednesday, rival Air New Zealand judged it could land the same aircraft safely in the capital.

Jetstar's New Zealand domestic fleet is made up of nine Airbus A320s, three flights of which were cancelled due to severe wind gusts in Wellington, leaving more than 1000 passengers stranded in Auckland, Wellington and Blenheim.

Air New Zealand cancelled flights between Wellington and Blenheim using Beech 1900D planes, the smallest in their fleet.

However, they were able to land Airbus 320s and Boeing 737s.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said safety was paramount and the final decision on whether or not to fly rested with the pilot.

Jetstar's spokeswoman said three flights between Wellington and Auckland were cancelled, the first of which was due to a windshear warning. Windshear occurred when the wind speed and direction changed quickly, creating unpredictable and at times dangerous flying conditions.


A second flight was diverted after wind speeds exceeded 60 knots while the third was cancelled because of the weather and curfew restrictions at Wellington Airport, she said.

Jetstar's safety policies were aligned with those of umbrella company Qantas, she said.

Massey University School of Aviation chief executive officer Ashok Poduval said each plane model operated in wind conditions differently.

"At any given time if an airline pilot judges the approach as not suitable, they will abandon the approach."

The Dominion Post