27 May 2010

Tonga's domestic airline grounded after emergency landing

1:36 pm on 27 May 2010

Tonga's domestic airline has been grounded following an emergency landing in which pilots had to touch down without a nose wheel.

Yesterday's incident at Fua'amotu International Airport involved a Chathams Pacific Queen Air plane carrying six passengers and two pilots.

The airline's general manager says the aircraft's nose wheel failed to lock in place and the pilots did an excellent job of landing the plane without it.

Noel Gillespie says an investigation is underway to find out why the incident occurred but he says Tonga's government is being overly cautious in suspending all flights because of it.

"We're having meetings with them and we're trying to get people who are involved in aviation to consult with the Tongans to try and give them a measure of comfort that this particular incident doesn't mean that the airline is unsafe."

Noel Gillespie says the grounding of the airline's other two aircraft in Tonga is causing significant disruption to passengers.