10 Jul 2013

Lost lives motivate aviation expert to speak out about Tonga's new plane

12:59 pm on 10 July 2013

A New Zealand aviation commentator, Peter Clark, says he raised the alarm about a new addition to Tonga's plane fleet after a spate of incidents involving the aircraft in Myanmar and Indonesia.

Tonga's airline Real Tonga last week took delivery of the MA60 which was a gift from China, but New Zealand's Foreign Minister has reportedly suspended millions of dollars in aid until the plane is internationally certified.

Mr Clark says the China-made turboprops have been grounded in Myanmar and Zimbabwe's leader has ordered his family not to fly on them.

"I found out that there's a been an incredible number of whole losses on this aircraft. There's been lives lost and it even got down to the situation where I found out in Zimbabwe, President Mugabe has said that his family, himself and the government are not to fly on this type."

Peter Clark says the aircraft is not certified by regulatory authorities in the United States, Britain or New Zealand.