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Export Award For Hamilton Aircraft Manufacturer

Wednesday 8 May 2002

Export Award For Hamilton Aircraft Manufacturer - Pacific Aerospace Corporation

Hamilton’s Pacific Aerospace Corporation Ltd has won a Trade New Zealand Export Award for developing a new aircraft targeted at the utility aircraft market that it projects will boost annual foreign exchange earnings from $8 million to $37 million in 2003.

Media are invited to attend the presentation of the Pacific Aerospace Corporation Export Award by the Minister of Trade Negotiations the Hon. Jim Sutton on Wednesday 8 May, at 1pm, Airport Road, Hamilton. The Trade New Zealand Export Awards are sponsored by DHL Worldwide Express.

Pacific Aerospace Corporation (PAC), New Zealand’s only manufacturer of conventional aircraft, has developed its new plane initially to target the fast growing tourism skydiving and parachute market, says General Manager John McWilliam. He says production of the first aircraft - the PAC 750 XL - is now underway with the plane attracting enormous interest from all over the world for uses ranging from parachuting to carrying drums of fuel and plywood into the wilderness areas of Canada.

PAC, a privately owned company, has been designing and manufacturing aircraft for export since 1954, predominantly destined for the agricultural and military training markets.

The first new aircraft the company has developed in recent times, Mr McWilliam says PAC projects sales of the PAC 750 XL will increase annual foreign exchange earnings from $8 million in 2001 to $37 million in 2003.

“We developed the plane in response to market demand for a specially designed utility aircraft for the skydiving market but with the ability to be used for other purposes– one that was cost effective to operate and could get to altitude.

“To enable the PAC 750XL to be used for other uses we also considered it essential to design an aircraft which was powered by a turbo-propeller engine with an ability to lift heavy payloads off semi-prepared and short landing strips.

“A lot of aircraft operating now in adventure tourism, freight and the10 passenger seat market are getting old and expensive to operate. We believe the PAC 750XL will provide a very cost effective solution to operators”.

Employing 120 staff in its Hamilton plant, Mr McWilliam says PAC has enjoyed good export growth in recent years. With almost 50 years in the business, he says the company has built up an excellent international reputation.

“We’ve got some very loyal and longtime customers. We’re a relatively small company and one of our competitive advantages is that we are easy to deal with. We are flexible so we can be responsive to market changes and we can make quick decisions. We are also politically and competitively neutral.

“Our products have very good heritage and are well-proven. They are known for being rugged – simple in their construction but robust – and those two things are very important in the agricultural and military markets we target as they give the client reliability and longevity.”

PAC’s main export markets for its planes are currently Thailand - military flight training, Singapore - commercial training operator, Australia - agricultural operators, flying training, geophysical survey and adventure tourism sectors, and Bangladesh - passenger work.

In addition to aircraft, PAC also manufactures detail components for Boeing in the USA, the biggest aircraft manufacturer in the world, and Europe’s Airbus.

Trade New Zealand Sector Team Manager Peter Smyth says PAC has built an international reputation over many years for its skill in aircraft design and airframe manufacturing expertise.

“PAC’s Fletcher topdressor originally put the company on the map and a solid export base has now been established around the supply of aircraft and components to the military, agricultural and commercial sectors.

“The company is to be congratulated on developing its new PAC 750XL. This aircraft will build on PAC’s solid reputation through, for the first time, offering the market a true utility aircraft capable of being used for a variety of uses. As the company gains a reputation beyond its military and agricultural strongholds, the risk of peaks and troughs in demand for new aircraft will even out across its wider sector base and establish a strong platform to sustain higher levels of production.”

John McWilliam says PAC has achieved its export success despite the many challenges of operating in the very competitive ‘boom and bust’ aviation industry.

“We receive no external assistance and that’s a huge disadvantage as we are often competing against companies that are subsidised by their governments, particularly in the military training market.”

Long term planning is essential for PAC, with projects taking up to five years from starting the tender stage to delivery of the aircraft.

Distance from its export markets is also a challenge, but Mr McWilliam says effective use of its website and email plus frequent overseas travel is helping to overcome that barrier. He says aviation is a very close knit community and word of mouth is also an important marketing tool for PAC.

With the large increase in production projected, PAC is looking to increase its production capability and recruit new staff – both skilled and semi-skilled. PAC also intends to increase the utilisation of other New Zealand companies for sub-contract.

NB: Trade New Zealand Export Award winners become contenders for the overall categories and Supreme Exporter of the Year Award, announced at the annual dinner on 15 May 2002. The dinner is the culmination of Trade New Zealand’s National Export Conference (May 14-15), being held in Auckland.

About the Trade New Zealand Export Awards:
The Trade New Zealand Export Awards, sponsored by DHL Worldwide Express, recognise outstanding achievement and growth by New Zealand exporters in international markets. Winners become contenders for the Supreme Exporter of the Year Award, announced at the annual dinner on 15 May 2002.


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