An Air New Zealand flight from Napier to Auckland took off with a metal pole still dangling beneath it. Aviation commentator Irene King said it was a "peculiar" safety incident of "some significance".

"The incident has been reviewed and attributed to human error, and at no stage was the safety of the flight compromised," it said. Air New Zealand confirmed on Thursday that one of its services left Napier to Auckland on June 30, with its prop tail in place.

A tail stand is a metal pole propped between the rear, bottom of the plane and the tarmac to keep the plane steady during loading. Tail stand left in place, aircraft departed Napier [and] flew to Auckland," the information said.

"Obviously it is a system failure. Someone didn't do their walk around [properly]," King said. A CAA spokesperson also said that the main risk of leaving the prop-tail in place during flight was that on landing it could hit the runway and cause damage to the fuselage. The risk of it falling off was "extremely remote". says that, CAA's long lists of safety incidents, both in-flight and at airports, included knives and an arrowhead found in carry-on bags. In May this year, an unmanned golf cart got caught in a strong Wellington wind and cut an arc around a boarding aircraft's nose. A ground handler stopped the cart before it hit the plane's propeller.

Two days after Christmas, also in Wellington, a pilot noticed a woman standing on the apron. It turned out she had missed her boarding call and, seeing her flight was about to leave, hopped on the plane through a faulty baggage door.

Wellington Airport spokesperson Greg Thomas said the airport had a strong safety culture, and that the incidents were investigated, and measures taken to prevent such things happening again. CAA noted 207 safety incidents at airports during the year till June, and pointed out in a statement that there were about 190,000 large aeroplane passenger or transport flights in that period.