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Tonga's grounded MA60 aircraft is expected to resume its domestic air service this week, operated by Real Tonga, Tevita Palu, the airline’s CEO told Matangi Tonga.
However, it is still not clear whether or not the aircraft has been certified by an internationally recognized certification authority.
Palu said that Real Tonga had signed a four-year contract with the Tongan government to operate the 56-seater MA60 aircraft, and the Civil Aviation Division of the Ministry of Infrastructure had also issued an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) for the MA60.
Meanwhile, Real Tonga is in the process of insuring the MA60 with a Chinese insurer, while securing relevant documents from government, as the owner of the aircraft, to be submitted to the insurer.
The USD$15 million MA60 aircraft, a gift from the People’s Republic of China to Tonga was handed to the then Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano by the PRC Ambassador Wang Dongua at the Fua’amotu Airport on 6 July 2013.
The Tonga government certified the MA60 and it started flying domestically in August 2013.
The New Zealand government reacted to the Tonga government’s certification of the aircraft and called for the Chinese-made aircraft to be certified by an international recognized certification authority. To emphasized their concern the New Zealand Government withhold an aid project worth USD$8 million for the development of
On February 8 2015 the Tongan government suspended the domestic operation of the MA60 and took the aircraft back from the Real Tonga Airline.
According to Real Tonga, the Tonga Government now “formally adopts the New Zealand Civil Aviation Rules in their entirety as the standard to which airlines must operate.”
A new Act for Civil Aviation has taken effect as of 8 February 2015, which is in line with the Tongan Government’s commitment to ICAO to raise the safety standards within Tongan Civil Aviation.
However, this latest move by the Civil Aviation Division of the Ministry of Infrastructure is another attempt to get the MA60 to go airborne.
We could not get any confirmation from the Civil Aviation Division of the Ministry of Infrastructure to confirm if the MA60 has been certified by international recognized certification authority.
SOURCE: MATANGI TONGA/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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