A Jetstar A320 was forced back to Christchurch this morning after smoke entered the cockpit.
The flight, from Christchurch to Wellington, had to turn around shortly after it departed at 7.30am.
The Star understands a flight attendant reported a musky kind of smell which was coming from the main compartment of the plane.
The seatbelt sign had just come on for landing when the pilot came across the speaker saying they were going to abort the journey and return to Christchurch.
Fire communications shift manager Brent Dunn said the local standby alert was received at 8am and was the lowest grade of alert for an incoming aircraft.
"There was a little bit of smoke in the cockpit of an A320 which was due to land shortly after we received the call,'' he said.
Two fire appliances, a command unit and airport rescue were on standby.
A police spokesman said the plane landed safely about 8.05am and passengers were shaken but unharmed.