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A pilot who made an emergency landing in Tauranga Harbour has been banned from flying amid claims he carried out unauthorised maintenance before both engines failed.

The Civil Aviation Authority has suspended the pilot's licence of Paul Ensor and the air operating certificate of his company, Mt Maunganui-based Island Air Charters.

It is the third time his company's air operating certificate has been suspended since July. The latest suspension is for 10 working days, pending an investigation.

It emerged yesterday that the plane Mr Ensor put down on mudflats on Thursday had made two earlier precautionary landings, although on those occasions Mr Ensor was not the pilot.

Authority spokesman Bill Sommer said the air operator's certificate was suspended after two senior executives, including the chief executive, resigned on Thursday, and because of the company's history.

"There were also allegations that Mr Ensor had been carrying out unauthorised maintenance of the aircraft," he said.

Mr Ensor did not return calls from the Weekend Herald yesterday.

But when asked on Thursday if he had previous problems with the Britten-Norman Islander, he said no and that both engines had been replaced a year ago.

The plane was winched off the mudflats by a five-tonne Russian Mil Mi-8 helicopter yesterday and will be taken to Hamilton for inspection.