22 Oct 2015

Tonga domestic plane grounded after engine problems

8:59 am on 22 October 2015

A domestic aircraft in Tonga has been withdrawn from service after one of its engines cut out mid-way through a flight between 'Eua and the main island of Tongatapu.

Plane wing at night with sunset (stock)

Photo: 123RF

Radio Tonga reports the Y12 aircraft encountered a technical problem yesterday afternoon and landed without incident, where it will remain out of service until the problem is fixed.

The infrastructure minister, 'Etuate Lavulavu, says the matter is of real concern because it's not the first time the Y12 aircraft has faced technical faults.

The 17-seat plane was gifted by China in August, after Real Tonga was forced to take an MA60 plane -- also gifted by China -- out of service after a dispute with New Zealand over its safety.

The plane's withdrawal is expected to impact domestic services around the country, as it was the only aircraft that could operate from smaller airstrips in 'Eua and the Niuas.