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Hamilton Aviation Firm Achieves Milestone

Hamilton Aviation Firm Achieves Milestone On Day Celebrating 100 Years Of Flight By Kiwi Flier Richard Pearse

A Hamilton aircraft manufacturer today reached a critical milestone, bringing closer to market a new passenger plane with huge world-wide potential.

The milestone was achieved on the day marking 100 years ago that New Zealander Richard Pearse flew his bamboo monoplane over farmland in South Canterbury.

Pearse's flight on March 31, 1903, came well before American Orville Wright took to the air in North Carolina in the United States on December 17, 2003.

In Hamilton today the "champagne corks were popping" as Pacific Aerospace Corporation achieved its target of submitting all of its flight-testing and reports to the Civil Aviation Authority for its new passenger aircraft PAC 750XL.

Based on Pacific Aerospace's highly successful Cresco turbo-prop topdresser platform, the 750XL has short take off and landing capabilities, giving it a broad range of civilian and military uses.

But the 750XL's likely major market is in adventure tourism as a platform for sky diving, according to PAC's general manager John McWilliam.

The 750XL is bigger than the Cresco and could carry 17 parachutists or nine seated passengers.

While most of the interest so far had been from skydiving operators, the aircraft could also be used for short haul passenger services such as Pacific Island hopping, the bush industry and alpine tourism.

With a price tag of $US1 million, the new aircraft is the first new passenger aircraft to be designed in New Zealand.

Mr McWilliam said the aircraft had recorded 297 test flights covering 200 hours since September 2001.

To enable certification to be completed, the company has had to comply with 32 separate aviation rules with 389 sub sections.

The test flight programme was a joint effort using PAC pilots and test pilots from the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, California, an organisation that trains pilots for the American Federal Aviation Administration.

Now that test flight documentation has been submitted, the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority will begin its review of the testing regime and will bring in its own pilot to test the new aircraft.

Mr McWilliam is confident the PAC 750XL will get CAA sign off by July when the first aircraft is scheduled to come off the production line.

Pacific Aerospace has the capacity to manufacture 12 PAC 750XL's a year but is looking for at least 120 more qualified staff to increase production to 48 a year as a medium term objective.

Already the company has around 260 options from agents and buyers waiting on news that the PAC 750XL has been certified.

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