New Zealand -Tongan world shot-put champion Valerie Adams’ decision to join a double celebration in her homeland could have ended in tragedy after the plane she was on slid off the runway at Fuaʻamotu Airport in Tongatapu during the weekend.
Adams’ flew to Tonga to take part in celebrations of the first Houma Global Community Day and the diamond jubilee of the Catholic Church, which was established in the village 75 years ago.
This was the first time the village had organised such large events, which attracted hundreds of visitors from overseas.
Adams, whose mother Lilika Ngauamo came from Houma and Haveluloto, was one of the key speakers during the events.
She also attended a reception arranged by the royal family in Nukuʻalofa.
A caption of a photo she posted read: “…the Real Tonga Airlines on their way to ‘Eua only to find out the breaks [sic] don’t work as the plane started to slide off the runway…thank goodness everyone was safe and no one got hurt.”
A commentator who followed Adams status said: “Only in Tonga can the Olympic gold medallist go home to relax and almost end up in a plane crash.”
Adams also wrote on her Instagram account and said: “Back in Tonga cause [sic] problems with brakes haha so waiting on eta for our flight zzzzz.”
Real Tonga Airline’s Director Tevita Palu told Kaniva News the aircraft involved was a Chinese-made Harbin Y12, not the notorious MA60.
Palu said the aircraft’s brakes did not operate normally during taxiing. The aircraft returned to the gate normally.
He said the flight was delayed until the defect was fixed, but it was operating normally now.
Last April Real Tonga’s B-65 Queenair crash landed at ‘Eua’s Kaufana Airport.
At the time, the airline said the landing gear failed to lower, causing the pilot to belly land the aircraft.
None of the seven passengers or the pilot were injured.
In 2012, the New Zealand government warned New Zealand tourists they would be flying at their own risk in Tonga because Real Tonga was using an MA60 aircraft, which did not meet New Zealand air safety standards. The MA60 has been involved in a number of incidents in different parts of the world.
New Zealand’s Foreign Affair Minister Murray McCully withheld a large grant meant to help the kingdom’s tourism industry to pressure the Tongan government into taking action over the MA60.
In September last year Kaniva News published a confidential letter Tonga’s former Prime Minister Lord Tuʻivakanō sent to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on July 15, 2014 in response to two Mandatory Information Requests concerning the certification of the MA60.
In the letter the then Prime Minister promised to revise Tonga’s civil aviation rules and regulations within 60-90 days and committed the kingdom to meeting New Zealand aviation standards.
Lord Tuʻivakanō undertook to review certain areas in Tonga’s aviation system like the Air Operator Certificates, Foreign Air Operator Certificates, Maintenance Organisation Certificates, Aerodrome Operator Certificates, Airworthiness Certificates, Aircraft Certificate of Registration and Type Acceptable Certificates.
The letter was apparently written to please the ICAO after it was reported the international body was not satisfied with how the Tongan government treated its demand to review its aviation system following the arrival of the controversial aircraft in 2012.
The main points
- World shot-put champion Valerie Adams’ decision to join a double celebration in her homeland could have ended in tragedy after the plane she was on slid off the runway at Fuaʻamotu Airport on the weekend.
- Adams was a key speaker at the celebrations of the first Houma Global Community Day and the diamond jubilee of the Catholic Church.
- Real Tonga Airline’s Director Tevita Palu told Kaniva News the aircraft’s brakes did not operate normally during taxiing.
- He said the aircraft returned to the gate normally, but was delayed until the defect was fixed.
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