1 Jun 2010

Chatham Pacific back flying after probe into incident at Tonga airport

9:37 pm on 1 June 2010

Tongan domestic airline, Chatham Pacific, is back flying following investigations into an incident at Fua'amotu Airport last week.

A plane carrying eight people was forced to land without a nose wheel after it failed to lock in place.

The airline's general manager, Noel Gillespie, says a bolt in the wheel failed due to internal inter-crystalline corrosion.

He says under the approved routine inspection the airline couldn't have detected this and so cannot be held responsible for the failure.

Mr Gillespie also says the inspection of the company's aircraft maintenance and its facilities has shown they are of a high industry standard, and meet Tonga's regulations.

There have been questions asked in Tonga about the state of air transport safety with some criticism levelled at the Ministry of Transportation.

The Ministry head, 'Eleni Mone, left her job earlier this week, but it remains unclear whether she was forced out or chose not to renew her contract.