A domestic Air New Zealand flight was diverted after the flight crew suspected the turboprop being hit by a lightning strike. The carrier’s ATR-72 was forced to divert to Auckland Airport (AKL) instead of scheduled arrival at Hamilton International Airport (HZL).
The incident occurred on November 25, 2020. Air New Zealand ATR-72 aircraft, registered as ZK-MVF, was performing a domestic flight NZ-5814 from Wellington International Airport (AKL) to Hamilton Airport (HZL), New Zealand. The flight crew was piloting the aircraft at FL190 about 50 miles west of Taupo, a town in New Zealand’s North Island when suspicions arose that the aircraft could have suffered a lightning strike, the initial report showed.
The crew’s doubts were deepened based on a thunderstorm warning for the regions of Whakatane, Rotorua and Taupo, issued on a late night of November 24, 2020. It is unclear how many passengers were flying the domestic route, but technically the ATR-72 specifications indicate an ability to carry 68 people onboard the aircraft. Fortunately, the ZK-MVF turboprop safely landed at AKL after almost an hour-long flight with no injuries reported.
According to AviationHerald.com, Air New Zealand aircraft was still on the ground in AKL airport about 13 hours after landing. The airline has a total of 28 ATR-72 aircraft in its fleet and one turboprop parked.