Air traffic control transcript reveals how Air NZ engine issue unfolded

A transcript of the conversation between air traffic control and the pilot of Air NZ 99 - the first Dreamliner flight to suffer serious engine issues - has been obtained by Radio New Zealand.

Everything appeared normal as NZ99 bound for Tokyo, was cleared to take-off on runway 23 left.

"Cleared for take-off, NZ99," the captain confirms.

Just ten minutes later as the flight neared the top of the North Island, the crew alerted Auckland's air traffic controllers of an issue on board.

"Auckland, NZ99 we've got an engine failure and we will stop at flight level 150 and we will call you back when we've got it sorted," the pilot says. Flight level 150 refers to the height the aircraft is flying at. In this case,15,000 feet.

Less than ten minutes later, the seriousness of the issue escalated, and the flight crew transmitted a 'pan-pan' message. That's similar to a mayday call, but is used when there is no immediate danger to life.

"Auckland Approach NZ99, PAN PAN, PAN PAN, PAN PAN. We have an engine issue on the right engine. We would like to request radar vectors to return to Auckland for landing."

The aircraft was cleared to return to Auckland.

Auckland Airport's control tower then informed the flight crew of the precautions being taken on the ground.

"NZ99 Tower, good morning again. We have all emergency vehicles on standby for you. Continue approach."

The aircraft landed and pulled off the runway as emergency vehicles approached to carry out an inspection.

The release of the transcript comes just a day after documents were obtained by revealing the Civil Aviation Authority had contacted Minister of Transport Phil Twyford, saying the authority needed to tell him "of a new and serious engine problem on the Boeing B787-9 fleet operated by Air New Zealand".

An excerpt of the communications between the CAA and the minister talks about the possibility of both engines shutting down during a flight.

The CAA said if one of the aircraft's two engines shut down, the second engine would be set to maximum power to keep the plane at altitude until it could land. That increase in thrust would affect the blades in the second engine to the point where it too would also shutdown, leaving the aircraft with no operating engines.

Air NZ says it is complying with all directives from the CAA and Rolls Royce, the engine manufacturer. The airline is operating two leased Boeing 777's to help cover the disruption to its services due to the Dreamliner engine checking and maintenance schedule.

The issue isn't isolated to our national carrier either. All Nippon Airways from Japan is also suffering from Dreamliner issues, as is Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.