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Jonathan Coleman

27 January, 2014

New pilot training capability contract awarded

The Government has awarded the contract to deliver a new and more effective military pilot training system to Beechcraft Defense Company.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman has congratulated Beechcraft and associated companies including New Zealand based Safe Air Limited on being selected to supply the NZ Defence Force’s new pilot training capability.

“This modern, safe and reliable pilot training system will enable our military pilots to be trained to the highest standards, and is in line with the training systems used in Australia, the UK, the US and Canada,” says Dr Coleman.

“The $154 million package includes ground simulators, classroom and computer based training packages to complement practical flying experience in turbo-prop T-6C aircraft. The T-6C has a proven track record in service with other militaries, and meets the NZDF’s performance and safety standards.

“The new system is expected to be operational for the first trainee intake in early 2016. It is estimated it will produce up to 15 graduate pilots and 12 Qualifying Flying Instructors per year over the next 30 years.”

Eleven Beechcraft T-6C aircraft will be assembled in Wichita, Kansas. Flight simulators and other ground based training devices will be installed at Ohakea by CAE Simulation (USA) as a subcontractor to Beechcraft. Maintenance and support for the aircraft and simulators will include subcontract support from CAE Australia and New Zealand based Safe Air Limited for the next 30 years. Around 21 new jobs with Safe Air Limited are expected to be created in Ohakea.

Pilot training is currently conducted using the single engine CT-4E Airtrainers and the twin engined turbo-prop King Air B200s. The service life of the CT-4Es is due to end in 2018, and the King Air B200s lease expires in 2018.

In November 2012, Cabinet agreed there was a requirement to modernise the pilot training system through the use of military training aircraft, simulators, other training aids, and an updated curriculum.

“There was significant interest in the pilot training tender from parties in New Zealand and overseas, resulting in a strong and competitive tender process,” says Dr Coleman.

“The process was reviewed by an external auditor and the shortlisting of the two final tenderers was affirmed by the Ministry of Defence’s Acquisition Review Board which includes representatives from government agencies such as the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.”

The Government is investing over $2 billion into new and upgraded aircraft and helicopters for the Air Force. Upgrades of C-130 Hercules and P-3 Orion aircraft continue, and all five of the AgustaWestland A109 training/light utility helicopters, and seven of the eight NH90 medium utility helicopters have arrived in New Zealand.