New lease on life for RNZAF aircrew training

Minister of Defence Ron Mark has announced the first of four leased KingAir KA350 aircraft has been certified for use by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), marking a change in the future of aircrew training.

“The new aircraft replace the B200 fleet which provide the RNZAF with multi-engine pilot training and light air-lift operations such as transport, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” says Ron Mark.

“These smaller aircraft have proved cost efficient for the extensive multi-engine training RNZAF pilots need after becoming proficient on single engine aircraft.

“With the end of lease of the old fleet, the Government has made a decision to increase the RNZAF’s domestic capability.

“Along with pilot training, I’m pleased to announce that this new fleet will enable specialist aircrew training to be brought back to New Zealand for the first time in two decades.

“This reflects the Government’s focus on ensuring our pilots and specialist crews develop and maintain essential skills, and continue to support NZDF operations within New Zealand.

“In an additional boost to Air Force capability, two of the aircraft will be configured to assist in important maritime surveillance tasks across our Exclusive Economic Zone,” says Mr Mark.

Air Warfare Officers are trained to fly and operate the P-3K2 Orion and C-130 Hercules, and specialist training has been undertaken in Australia. No additional operational funding has been required for the new lease and introduction of the training.

Mr Mark said the decision demonstrates that highly capable local companies are supporting the New Zealand Defence Force, with local suppliers providing sophisticated training system equipment.

New Zealand-based training will include navigation, flight planning, mission management, and communications, with Air Warfare Officer training starting later this year.

The budget for the project is drawn from the annual operating budget of the NZDF and has been provided from a reallocation of the funds previously assigned to the B200 lease and delivery of training in Australia.

The remaining three aircraft will be delivered progressively into 2019.