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Government looking at short-range passenger aircraft

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Wayne Mapp
Wayne Mapp

Wellington, May 7 NZPA - The Government is looking at buying short-range passenger aircraft to transport dignitaries and plug a Defence Force capacity gap.

Potential planes could be twin-engine turbo-propeller aircraft such as the Dash 8 Q300 or the Casa 235, The New Zealand Herald reported today.

Any purchase would be well into the future, as the capacity gap has been cited in a white paper review of the defence force, not due to report until September.

NZPA understands any decision based on that report would have to go through a long-winded process before it was rubber-stamped.

"One of the important parts of the review was to identify whether the Defence Force was meeting the needs of the nation, but also where there are gaps," Defence Minister Wayne Mapp told the Herald.

"There is a lack of short-range maritime patrol -- that's a two-engine aircraft to patrol or survey or that could fly to a South Pacific nation -- and similarly there's a gap around a lower capacity aircraft at the transport end."

The aircraft would also be used as VIP transport. Currently ministers can use the King Airs which are about to be replaced, and whose primary purpose is for advanced pilot training.

The Dash 8 or the Casa 235 could also be used for advanced pilot training.

The white paper review will look at how the armed forces should operate in the next 10 to 20 years and the capabilities required.

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