Samoa Air CEO Downplays Fears Over Tonga’s New Aircraft

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Langton feels concerns about airplane’s safety aren’t significant

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 16, 2013) – A veteran pilot who will be involved in validating Tonga’s controversial new aircraft expects fears over its safety will be allayed.

The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, has suspended more than US$8 million of tourism aid until the China-made MA-60’s safety is certified to an international standard.

The plane, which was a gift from China, has been flying between Nuku’alofa and Vava’u since August and China is adamant the plane is strictly verified by its own aviation standards.

The CEO of Samoa Air, Chris Langton, was approached to be a test pilot for an independent group which wants to begin a safety validation process that will be recognised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

"A formal approach has been made to the Tongan government for the purpose of being able to carry out a series of flight checks and tests sufficient to allow both New Zealand and Tonga to compare notes, and then on that basis have the aircraft accepted into service without any restrictions."

Chris Langton says he doesn’t think concerns surrounding the aircraft are a significant safety issue.

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