10 August 2013
Tonga's MA60 airborne!
The Government is warning Kiwis to be extra vigilant when travelling on the Real Tonga airline from today. The airline's MA-60 aircraft, which has one of the world's worst safety records, is now in service. "The MA-60 has been the subject of serious concerns amongst aviation experts. It is not certified to fly in New Zealand and would not be allowed to do so without a thorough certification process under Civil Aviation rules," Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said. "The MA-60 is not certified by comparable jurisdictions such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EU), the Federal Aviation Administration (US) and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (AUS)." Tonga was gifted a MA-60 for its Real Tonga airline to use for domestic flights by China. Since 2009 there have been 11 serious incidents involving MA-60s, three of them in the last two months. Most of the crashes were caused by technical or system failure. The New Zealand Government has suspended millions of dollars in tourism aid to Tonga after learning the kingdom wants to use these unsafe planes. "We will not be spending taxpayer money promoting tourism in Tonga until we are satisfied with the safety and reliability of this new air service," Mr McCully said. He said the Government was in in discussions with the Tongan Government on this issue. "I reiterate my offer of support to Tonga to assist them in ensuring aviation safety, a critical component of tourism in the Pacific Islands."
There is also a video clip of the earlier news item at this site
There is a really excellent photo of it in its Chinese registration at "
Posted by Steve L at 2:11 PM