Natural hazards and emergencies

Aircraft accidents

No large-scale aircraft accidents requiring a response from Civil Defence and Emergency Management have ever occurred in Auckland. Such an event could occur, as the region has the largest and busiest international airport in New Zealand.

The long-term accident rate (accidents versus hours flown) is decreasing - except for helicopters. Accidents usually occur just before, during or just after landing and take-off.

Aircraft accident causes

Causes of aircraft accidents can include:

  • pilot error (either weather, mechanical or health related)
  • other human error (such as air traffic controllers, miscommunications)
  • weather
  • mechanical failure
  • sabotage.

Aircraft incidents

Over the three years between 1996 and 1999 there were about 40 aircraft accidents in Auckland, which equated to 13 per cent of all aircraft accidents in New Zealand. Most accidents involved small aircraft, less than 2,721kg in weight. A series of accidents in moderate sized aircraft (less than 13,608kg in weight) occurred in Auckland during the 1990’s including four in 1990, two in 1991, one in 1993 and one in 1997.

Auckland City mid-air collision: 1993
In November 1993, a small helicopter and light aircraft crashed killing all four occupants and injuring one motorist on the ground. The collision occurred at less than 500 metres above Queen Street and Karangahape Road. The left wing of the aircraft separated and landed on a church roof. The plane landed on the central motorway junction. The helicopter crashed onto the Northwestern Motorway where a severe fire broke out. Helicopter debris caused injuries to one driver and the accident caused major disruption to the Auckland motorway network.

Auckland waterfront helicopter crash: 2011
In November 2011, a helicopter pilot was installing a large fiber optic Christmas tree in Auckland’s Viaduct Basin when his chopper plunged to the ground. The pilot, contractors and onlookers escaped serious injury.

More information

Visit the Civil Aviation Authority website

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