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Skyhawk safety spin a mask

Max Bradford National Defence Spokesperson

28 May 2001

Skyhawk safety spin a mask

Yet another leak from the Prime Minister's office about supposed 'major structural flaws' in the air force Skyhawks is nothing more than Helen Clark trying to justify her decision to scrap the fleet, National's Defence spokesman Max Bradford said today.

It has been reported today that Helen Clark is calling for an inquiry into the Skyhawks after reports that one third of the fleet may need to be grounded for safety reasons. The same report says neither the air force or Defence Minister have confirmed the problem.

"Most New Zealanders don't agree with the Prime Minister's decision to scrap the Skyhawks and won't be taken in by the controlled leaks from the ninth floor of the Beehive.

"The aircraft are ageing but the professionalism in maintenance standards that the air force adheres to means they would never be allowed to fly unless they were in top condition.

"Although the Skyhawks are getting older they are amongst the best maintained in the world. This type of aircraft continues to be flown by other countries including Singapore, a number of South American countries, and Indonesia.

"Helen Clark should immediately release the reports on the recent Skyhawk crashes in Nowra and in the South Island as they will prove whether there is anything wrong with the aircraft.

"The real reason why the Beehive is spinning the story that the aircraft could be unsafe is to justify the Government's unpopular decision to scrap the Skyhawks," Mr Bradford said.

Ends

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