Air New Zealand Airbus A320 Returns To Christchurch With Gear Fault


An Air New Zealand flight made a u-turn after takeoff due to a gear fault. The Airbus A320’s gear would not retract after takeoff. As a result, the crew made the decision to turn around back to Christchurch where the aircraft made a safe landing. Air New Zealand was able to find a replacement A320 which delayed the flight by just over two hours.

Air New Zealand A320
An Air New Zealand Airbus A320 returned to Christchurch after a gear failure post-departure. Photo: Airbus

Air New Zealand A320 gear fault

On October 5th, 2019, Air New Zealand flight 538 was ready for departure from Christchurch to Auckland. The Airbus A320 took off from runway 20 at Christchurch. However, when the crew attempted to retract the landing gear, they discovered a gear fault on the Air New Zealand A320.

The landing gear would not retract, per reporting from the Aviation Herald. At that point, the crew leveled off and made the decision to return to Christchurch. The aircraft then landed safely on the same runway 20. The total flight time was just over 35 minutes.

Air New Zealand A320
The Airbus A320 returned to Christchurch for a safe landing after suffering a gear fault. Photo: Airbus

The aircraft, registered as ZX-OXA, is no longer in passenger service according to Flight Radar 24. This is likely because maintenance is still working on fixing the problem. Gear faults are usually not serious enough to warrant an aircraft to be written off.

Instead, Air New Zealand’s team is likely working on getting the aircraft back in service. It is unclear what caused this gear fault. Thankfully, the aircraft was able to land safely in Christchurch and no injuries were reported.

Are gear faults common?

In general, incidents involving gear faults are quite rare in the aviation world. Although we have seen incidents in the past with aircraft suffering gear faults after takeoff, the likelihood of such an incident impacting your next flight is quite low.


Aircraft undergo a host of maintenance checks designed to prevent incidents like this. Unfortunately, sometimes things do go wrong. However, flight crew and maintenance crew are trained to handle these situations with exceptional care. So, if this does happen on your flight, you are likely in good hands.

Gear faults are uncommon in the aviation world. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying


The pilots were able to identify the problem and act appropriately to ensure the safety of the passengers and crew. According to Air New Zealand’s website, the airline has 17 Airbus A320s in the domestic configuration with another nine configured for short-haul services. And, on the newer end of the spectrum, Air New Zealand also has seven A320/A321neo aircraft in operation, with another 13 on order.

These are in addition to Boeing 787s and 777s the airline also flies. Thus, Air New Zealand’s operations likely will not be impacted too significantly by one out of service A320. Other aircraft will be able to pick up pieces of the schedule to ensure the airline’s operations.

Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand operates over 30 A320 and A320neo family aircraft. Photo: Air New Zealand

Were you onboard this flight? What happened? Have you experienced a gear fault in flight before? Let us know in the comments!