Air travel

Passenger plane lands safely in New Zealand after fire shuts down an engine

Virgin Australia said in an emailed statement that the incident may have been caused by “a possible bird strike.”

A Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 plane
Getty Images

A passenger plane landed safely at a New Zealand airport on Monday after a fire shut down one of its engines, the nation’s fire service said.

The Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 jet bound for Melbourne, Australia, landed in the New Zealand city of Invercargill after the fire forced a diversion.

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Fire trucks met the plane as it arrived in Invercargill about 50 minutes after takeoff from Queenstown, said Lynn Crosson, shift supervisor for Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

The cause of the engine fire and the number of passengers on board the plane were not immediately known, Queenstown Airport spokesperson Catherine Nind said.

Virgin Australia said in an emailed statement that the incident may have been caused by “a possible bird strike.”

Queenstown, with a population of 53,000, is popular tourist destination on New Zealand's South Island, famous for skiing, adventure tourism and alpine vistas.

The rate of birds striking planes at New Zealand’s airports is about four in every 10,000 aircraft movements, the country’s aviation regulator says on its website. The consequences vary in severity depending on where the aircraft is hit, the size of the birds and the pilot’s reaction, the agency says.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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