Trislander Throws Blade, Loses Door In Flight
"It was like an explosion going off inside the plane," a passenger of a Great Barrier Airlines Trislander told the New Zealand Herald, after the aircraft's right engine threw at least one blade into the side of the aircraft as it carried 11, with an empty seat in the cabin ... where the blade hit. When the propeller blade hit, it scattered debris throughout the cabin and took off a right side door, leaving a gaping hole in the aircraft through which the hub-less engine could (in theory) be clearly seen. The event occurred last Sunday and somewhere out there someone may have in-flight pictures -- one passenger had the wherewithal to take out his camera and another claims to have had steady enough hands to take some shots as the aircraft returned to Claris. Passengers told the Herald they'd noticed the engine wobbling during the takeoff roll at Claris Airfield on a flight that would otherwise have ended in Auckland. One passenger told the Herald "there were engineers working on that engine" on the same aircraft when he had flown on it days earlier.
As fate would have it, the propeller's departure shortened the flight to about six minutes total. The aircraft returned to land safely at Claris, but two of the flight's very shaken passengers required medical aid to extract debris from their eyes. Those two may have been lucky only in the difficulty it may have caused them in surveying the damage. Other passengers wondered if they would survive or "is the aircraft going to break up?" Great Barrier Airlines chief executive, Gerard Rea, said the maintenance had nothing to do with the propeller, and that the airline would make available the results of its own internal investigation. Rea also noted the aircraft is capable of flying "comfortably" on two engines ... presumably one could remove the word "comfortably" when accounting for a gaping hole in the fuselage.