Kiwi Aircraft Manufacturer Receives World Orders

Published: Mon 22 Dec 2003 10:55 AM
Kiwi Aircraft Manufacturer Gets Orders From Around The World
Orders Coming In From Around World For PAC 750XL Passenger Aircraft
Less than five years after the concept was first developed, Pacific Aerospace Corporation has delivered its new PAC 750XL to its first offshore buyer - Utility Aircraft Corporation, in Woodland, California. This is just one of 18 that PAC has already sold with options received for another 260 of the new aircraft.
The first passenger aircraft to be designed and manufactured in New Zealand, the PAC 750XL is also believed to be the first new aircraft built in the last 25 years specifically to target the burgeoning adventure parachuting market.
This robust, multi-purpose aircraft can take 17 fully kitted skydivers to 3600 metres in 12 minutes. Its spacious interior, large exit door, safe jump platform and quick loading capability make it ideal for parachuting.
PAC's general manager, John McWilliam, speaking from his company's Hamilton headquarters today, says the opportunities for aircraft manufacturers in the parachuting sector have not been appreciated by PAC's competitors.
"Adventure parachuting is the fastest-growing recreational market in the world," he says. "In the US alone, it's estimated there are some 600 aircraft employed in the skydiving industry. These have all been modified from other uses."
McWilliam says PAC's decision to make a purpose-built aircraft for the parachuting sector gives it a big edge over the competition. The PAC 750XL is significantly cheaper than its nearest competitor.
This is endorsed by PAC's managing director, Brian Hare, who is quick to point out the PAC 750XL is not limited to parachuting.
"This aircraft is the best multi-purpose aircraft around," he says. "It's ideal for carrying cargo, reconnaissance, sightseeing, commuting, mineral exploration and for medical and military use." Hare says the orders for, and huge interest in, the aircraft are personally satisfying to him.
"The response justifies the faith we placed in it. Some of the early sales have been made sight unseen by the buyers. This is an indication of the integrity of the design and of the confidence the industry has in Pacific Aerospace."
As a utility aircraft capable of operating from short, rough runways and carrying a payload of close to 2043 kgs (4500lb), the PAC 750XL has the ability to fly in some of the remotest places in the world and land on semi-prepared strips. It also has the potential for military use, offering significantly lower capital and operating costs than medium helicopters.
With its high lift wings and 750HP Pratt & Whitney engine, it's capable of cruising at 160 knots for up to five hours with a full passenger load. This makes it attractive to buyers operating services to island and hideaway tourist resorts through to commuter runs.
The aircraft is currently undergoing American Federal Aviation Administration certification under a bilateral agreement with the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand. The process to achieve CAA certification was a vigorous one: it required 18 months of structural testing, 315 flights, 1000 spins, 2500 individual tests and more than 70,000 hours man-hours of design, manufacture and assembly.
First cleared for testing take-off in 2001, the first formal certification flight took place in January this year. What followed was a total of 88 certification flights, testing 389 elements of compliance. PAC completed its target of completing flight-testing by March 31 - exactly 100 years since New Zealander Richard Pearse flew his bamboo monoplane over farmland in South Canterbury before crashing into a hedge, months before American Orville Wright took to the air.
Hare says his company will continue to manufacture its highly successful Cresco turbo prop agricultural/utility aircraft and an aerobatic aircraft, the CT4 Airtrainer, used mainly for pilot training by military and large commercial training organisations. Future plans for the PAC 750XL include floats, medivac and passenger and freight configurations.
Pacific Aerospace Corporation, which began 45 years ago, operates from a 260,000sq ft manufacturing facility with two production lines at Hamilton International Airport. Its track record includes manufacturing components for Boeing 747 and 777, Airbus 330 and 340, FA18 Hornets, Aermacchi MB326, P3B Orion and MD11, and the U.S. military. It has carried out avionic updates on the RNZAF's Skyhawks, and completed maintenance work on the Strikemaster jets and Iroquois helicopters. The company was also involved in the ANZAC frigate project with Australia and New Zealand, producing combat system containers for the modularised frigates and has manufactured rudders for specialised tank landing craft for the US Marines.
A finalist in the Trade New Zealand Supreme Export Award, PAC is also the recipient of an award from the NZ Aviation Industry Association for 'leadership in aviation design and manufacture for the world market'.

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