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Bird strike closes Auckland Airport's runway

Last updated 10:14 03/07/2014
Birdstrike at Auckland Airport
Alice Mullins

BIRDSTRIKE EMERGENCY: Auckland airport's runway was closed temporarily when a bird hit an Air New Zealand plane.

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An Air New Zealand plane sparked a full emergency call-out when a bird flew into an engine during takeoff at Auckland Airport this morning.

Flight NZ970 to Tonga hit the bird in the early stages of its take-off just after 8.30am, an Air New Zealand spokeswoman said.

Were you on the flight? Click here to send us your newstips, photos or video.

The plane had not left the ground but was forced to halt its take-off. Passengers were kept on the plane as emergency services were called for a "full emergency" response.

A passenger on the plane said there was a sudden screech of brakes during takeoff.

"It felt like we were about to leave the ground, it was going full throttle, then it was a quite sudden and dramatic braking," the passenger said.

"The plane was shaking from side to side. It felt like we might have been about to go into a skid."

The passenger said they were informed that "two birds had left the ground and one had gone straight into the right-hand engine".

It was reported the Airbus A320's wheels may have overheated during braking, but the Fire Service said thermal imaging tests showed the wheels were within a safe heat range.

Ten fire trucks attended as well as airport rescue emergency services, the Fire Service said.

Twitter user Mary Haddock Staniland was on the plane and tweeted "stuck on tarmac after hitting a bird during take off. Back to the gate we go!!". She later tweeted "Air NZ - you were amazing".

The runway was temporarily closed during the emergency, and passengers later were taken to the terminal to await a rescheduled flight.

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