Faulty switch to blame for grounded plane
Prime Minister John Key has backed the decision that grounded his Royal New Zealand Air Force flight in Australia and which led to the cancellation of the Mumbai leg of his India visit.
The air force has revealed a faulty micro-switch on the Boeing 757 was responsible for two aborted take-offs from Townsville on Monday.
A flashing warning in the cockpit meant the crew thought the aircraft was not in take-off mode.
It couldn't be fixed quickly and the RNZAF's other 757 was needed as back up to fly the 81 passengers on to India.
Tuesday's Mumbai engagements were cancelled - one member of the 35-strong business delegation made the decision to return - and the trip picked up its itinerary in New Delhi on Wednesday.
NZ First says the 757s shouldn't be used as the prime minister's private jet and Mr Key was criticised by a media commentator for not being furious enough about the break down.
But Mr Key says putting safety first was the right thing to do.
"It's a bit sub-optimal. It would have been better if it didn't happen but in the real world things happen," he said.
"Planes with commercial operators have issues from time to time.
"Personally, I think the air force has got to take its responsibilities around safety seriously and if it has a safety warning that says don't fly, history tells you very dumb politicians try and get them to overrule that."
Mr Key also said he would rather have missed the visit to financial hub Mumbai than the capital New Delhi, where he still met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.