An Air New Zealand ATR-72 en route to Wellington returned to its origin airport yesterday after pilots reported smoke in the cockpit. The aircraft went on to land safely without any reported injuries to passengers or crew.
The ATR-72 remained on the ground for a few hours, and passengers were transferred onto alternative flights.
According the Aviation Herald report. the incident occurred with an ATR-72 registered as ZK-MVE, it had just departed Hamilton Airport for Wellington. The plane was on ascent when smoke was reported in the cockpit as it went through FL160. The pilots stopped the climb and returned to Hamilton Airport.
The aircraft was operating NZ5813. This is the 07:50 departure from Hamilton. The regional city on New Zealand’s North Island is located just over 100 kilometers south of Auckland. The flight was heading to Wellington, on the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island. Flying time between the two cities on the ATR-72 is normally 70 minutes.
According to flight data, the ATR-72 was at 4,890 meters and traveling at just under 450 kilometers per hour and over the Pureora Forest Park west of Lake Taupo when it began turning around. With a smooth descent, ZK-MVE landed back in Hamilton about 30 minutes after it left.
The plane is one of 28 ATR-72s in Air New Zealand’s regional fleet. ZK-MVE is just over six years old and has spent that time flying around New Zealand.