14 May 2014

NZ pilot says Tongan plane safe, and NZ should approve

5:47 pm on 14 May 2014

An experienced New Zealand pilot says New Zealand should recognise the certification of a controversial Tongan plane.

The new plane was a gift from China.

Rodger McCutcheon is the founder of the Tonga Rescue Helicopter and is acknowledged in the Federal Aviation Administration Airmen Certification Database.

He was at today's meeting in Wellington between Tonga's deputy prime minister Samiu Vaipulu and the foreign minister, Murray McCully, and says his solution is not about politics or egos or either country winning an argument.

He says if Mr McCully was genuinely concerned about the safety risks to New Zealanders, he would issue a travel warning to every country that uses the MA60, not just Tonga.

Mr McCutcheon says highly experienced New Zealand pilots are able to test fly the plane as a way to prove the plane is safe, and a solution is easily achievable so that both sides of the dispute can save face.