Antarctica landing inquiry launched

An inquiry has been launched into an emergency landing in bad weather made by a Royal New Zealand Air Force flight in Antarctica.

The Boeing 757 was forced to land on Monday in weather below minimum standards and with insufficient fuel to reach an alternate airport.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully was among 117 passengers and 11 RNZAF crew on board.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission launched an inquiry into the incident on Friday.

"The commission's inquiry will work alongside but independently of the air force's own investigation of the incident," chief investigator of accidents Captain Tim Burfoot said.

"While the commission is precluded from investigating incidents and accidents confined to New Zealand Defence Force resources, this occurrence involved a combination of military and civilian personnel and services," he said.

It's too early to say how long the investigation might take or whether international participation in the inquiry is required.

On board the flight were 94 personnel supporting the US Antarctic Programme, 16 Antarctica New Zealand passengers, and seven NZ Defence Force personnel.

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