08 July 2013

Bring back Chathams Pacific

The latest chapter in the Tongan Government's dabbling in aviation... After the Princess Ashika sinking you would have thought safety would be paramount! Check out TVNZ's report on the aircraft and NZ Government warning...

Meanwhile the Tongan Government's position is outlined in Matangi Tonga... Some edited highlights...
"The aircraft is safe," said Tonga's Deputy Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulu, who sought the aircraft from China. In an emotional speech he said that it was the first of its type in the region but, "It is sad that the United States even New Zealand have not accepted this aircraft."
The Tongan government as the owner of the aircraft has to insure it and, "we have a few things to do before we start the service to our people." Hon Vaipulu said he dreamed of acquiring more planes. "Currently, there are talks, negotiations on getting two more Y12 aircraft to service the Niuas and 'Eua and also to help Tonga Defence Service on surveillance of our waters. … and I am sure Tonga would use jets domestically in the very near future."
For the full article see...


  1. It has been in the public domain for quite some time that Tonga was getting this plane, but it only makes it to the news now it actually arrives!?
    I am no expert on this plane, however some points to ponder after a simple 5mins spent researching the plane on the internet.
    More than half of the accidents look to be pilot error...at least its batteries don't spontaneously combust like the B787.
    Most of the countries are poor countries operating it.
    It is a valid point as to why get FAA or UK certification if they don't plan to sell it there.
    and errr...maybe I am stupid, but the obvious thing would be for a journalist to call up the FAA and ask them point blank was certification rejected and why, or has the plane never been presented for their certification? There is no information clear cut about this, and I can find articles for both sides saying this. Or maybe it is even political to not certify a Chinese plane?
    o and FYI, the factory that makes the MA60 also makes Airbus and Boeing parts...

  2. I must say I am somewhat surprised by the reaction from within and Tonga and abroad regarding the MA60 and its "safety" record.

    It seems to me to be largely scaremongering and overstated comments by an under-informed public. Do we jump to this conclusion because the aircraft is Chinese made?

    Everyone keeps referring to Wikipedia and its "horrible" safety record. Why don't we look into this a bit further. Horrible compared to what?

    Yes it has had 7 incidents/accidents in 4 years but what people forget is they are not all because of a fault with the aircraft. The first 3 for example, from Jan 2009 - May 2011 were operational/pilot error accidents. This can and does happen to any aircraft.

    At this stage, the accident on 10 June 2013 appears to be nothing more than an undershoot and loss of control on landing. Again, happens to any aircraft. Just look at the Boeing 777 at San Francisco in the weekend! This, like the above did not happen due to a fault with the aircraft.

    What amazes me if people around the world fly without a second thought on North American or European aircraft such as the Bombardier Dash 8 or the Beechcraft 1900D when you could say that these are aircraft that do have a questionable history!

    Just Google "Dash 8 Landing Gear" - There are over 20 documented "crash landings" due to issues with the undercarriage, including Air New Zealand aircraft! While you are there Google "Beech 1900D Accidents", if you do, you will probably never fly again.

    Want to see the list of accidents the Convair family has? The same family of Aircraft Chatham's Pacific (ZK-CIF/CIE) used to operate in Tonga:
    Yeah, not pretty.

    What people really need to worry about is not the aircraft but crew competency and airport safety.

    For the crew/pilots:
    Are they fit to fly?
    How many hours do they have in total?
    How many on the particular aircraft?
    Are they well rehearsed in emergency procedures?
    Are they confident and well trained in instrument approaches?
    Confident with missed approaches and go around when in Instrument flight conditions?
    Well trained on strong crosswinds?

    For the airports:
    What published approaches do they have?
    Are all the navigation aids operational?
    Are the runway and approach lighting serviceable?
    How does the runway handle rain run off?
    What is braking performance on the runway like when wet?
    Are the Rescue Fire crew well trained and well equipped?
    Is there a overshoot or under run area?

    These above examples concern me more (as a pilot myself and a passenger) than a media beat-up about a Chinese made plane.

    While I agree there are better suited aircraft for Tonga - ATR-42, SAAB 340, Jetstream J31, EMB120 for example, I don't personally think the MA60 deserves it bad rap and everyone needs to calm down.

    After all, Tongans have all been flying around on the Harbin Y-12 (Another Chinese aircraft) for a since pre Airlines Tonga days.

    I am going back to Vava'u in December and will have no issues flying on the MA60, in fact I would love the Jump Seat!

  3. Maybe you could expand on the safety record of the B1900D Peter. What experience do you have to base this assumption on?

    I'd challenge you to find one example of a fatal crash which wasn't attributable to a human related error.

  4. Quick scan of the Safety records of the B1900, flying since 1984, shows 51 occurrences, 35 were a hull loss.
    Without getting into human or technical error (i.e keeping it at the intelligence level of a TV Reporter), the B1900 would appear to even more dangerous! But we won't mention the frame cracking Eagle is currently getting with the planes only halfway through their lifetime.

    Anyone feel like flying the B787, I see it has had another fire today...

  5. So following your rather strange logic, just because there is a hull loss, does this mean the aircraft is dangerous? They lost a 777 hull last week. Does that make the 777 dangerous?

  6. ...haha, very good, now you get the point we have been trying to make!

  7. http://www.travelmemo.co.nz/memos/20130802.pdf
    Page 11 is an interesting read.

  8. http://www.travelmemo.co.nz/memos/20130802.pdf
    Page 11 is an interesting read.