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Tonga's MA60 met China's aviation standard, states embassy

An MA-60 in Indonesia,.  Photo: AFP 
The Chinese Embassy in Nuku’alofa came out for the first time today to state its gifted MA60 aircraft to Tonga was strictly verified by China’s aviation airworthiness standard and satisfies requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Mr Xu Zhiguang the First Secretary (Economic & Commercial) at the Chinese Embassy said the MA60 is designed, manufactured, and verified strictly with China’s aviation airworthiness and satisfied the requirements of ICAO.

On the issue of why doesn’t the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand certify the aircraft, he said the manufacturer had a choice.

He said normally the company or the manufacturer Xi'an Aircraft International Corporation Company which sells this aircraft will apply for the certificate in certain region or a country. "If they don't have the intention to open the market in the region or the competition is too hard, they have their choice not to apply," he said.

Mr Xu said until now, 85 MA60 aircrafts had been sold and delivered in and out of China and their flying had accumulated to over 230,000 hours and over 220,000 times of landing.

“However, several accidents occurred in a few countries in the past five years and they were all caused by human error, according to the investigation reports by relative authorities. In China, MA60 has flown over 70,000 hours and landed over 70,000 times successfully without any accident.”

He said before the delivery of the aircraft to Tonga, the Chinese side arranged for two captains, two co-captains and another 13 airport ground staff and stewardness to train in Xi’an, the city where the aircraft was made in China. "After a series of training each of them got their relative certificate, which makes them qualified to operate it," he said.

After the aircraft was delivered to Tonga in July 2013, the China side dispatched a group of experts and he said that an experienced Chinese captain is conducting the flying until the Tongan captains are professional enough.

“Now the MA60 has flown from Tongatapu to Vava’u for over five weeks and passengers who have taken it comment that the aircraft flies faster with lower noise and the seats are even more comfortable … the Chinese Government will consistently assist Tonga in assuring the safety of the aircraft.”

New Zealand concerns

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully stands firm in regards to his concerns over the aircraft's safety record and put on hold tourism aid to Tonga, in July this year.

Last month, he stepped up the New Zealand government's travel advisory for visitors to Tonga, after the MA-60 aircraft began operations on August 10.
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