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757 purchase finalised

757 purchase finalised

New Zealand has just taken the next step in building a modern, focused, well-equipped Defence Force.

Defence Minister Mark Burton today announced the purchase of two Boeing 757s jet aircraft, which will replace the NZDF’s Boeing 727s.

“The NZDF must have a sustainable strategic air transport capability for stores, equipment, and personnel. Such capability is essential for successful NZDF missions both at home and overseas—a fact that is well illustrated by our recent experiences in East Timor.

“The two 757 jet aircraft will be modified for dual cargo and passenger carrying capacity in order to meet the NZDF’s operational requirements to move both personnel and equipment. Alterations will include a freight door in the main cabin and strengthened floor modification, which will allow access to the cabin interior.

“New Zealand’s air transport fleet is required to perform a wide variety of strategic tasks, from a range of both military and civilian requirements. They include peace support operations, emergency medical evacuations, disaster and humanitarian relief, support for military operations and exercises, and VIP transport, among many others. “These requirements, defined through consultation with a wide cross-section of government agencies, including Immigration, Police, Customs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, and the Maritime Safety Authority, among others.”

Mark Burton is welcoming the purchase of the 757s, the first of which is due to arrive, ready for immediate service, in mid-April. Modifications to this aircraft are scheduled to begin later this year. The second 757 is due to arrive mid-year. “The publication of the Defence Long-Term Development Plan in June 2002 outlined this Government’s commitment to achieving the goal of a strong, multi-faceted air transport fleet, capable of meeting both military and non-military requirements.

“The purchase of these two 757s—planes which fly further, carry more and are much more reliable than the 727—represents a significant step towards achieving this goal,” Mark Burton said.

Questions and answers on the replacement of the Boeing 727.

Replacing the Boeing 727 with two cargo-capable Boeing 757s

Q. Why the Boeing 757?

A. Analysis by Defence has concluded that the Boeing 757 is the model that best meets New Zealand's requirements for local, regional, and global operations. This conclusion was validated by two independent consultants. They will need to be modified to a cargo-capable configuration to meet all New Zealand's requirements.

Q. Why not upgrade the Boeing 727s?

A. The two Boeing 727s are reaching the end of their useful life and an upgrade would not be cost effective because of the age of the airframe and systems, a high maintenance burden, engines that are non-compliant with civil aviation requirements, and a number of operational restrictions such as limited range and payload.

Q. Why replace them now?

A. The availability and reliability of the 727s has reduced significantly in recent years and New Zealand needs new aircraft. It was important to make a decision on this issue at the same time as a decision on the upgrade/replacement of the C-130H Hercules because of the linkages between the two capabilities and the need to maintain capabilities as the C130H are cycled through their upgrade programme.

Q. What will happen to the 727s?

A. The Boeing 727 aircraft will be offered for sale.

Q. Why a cargo capability for the 757s?

A. A cargo capability is required for the aircraft to perform a wide variety of tasks, both civilian and military. The planes are used for such varied roles as peace support operations, emergency medical evacuations, disaster and humanitarian relief, support for military operations and exercises, and VIP transport. Cargo capability will allow the 757s to do the same job as the 727s and will also help to relieve the burden on the C-130, which has recently been doing a number of primarily strategic airlift tasks.

Q. Why buy and not lease?

A. Leasing has some important operational restrictions which cannot be overcome at this time and would prevent the aircraft from being used to their full capacity.

Q. When will the 757s be in operation?

A. The first of the aircraft is due to arrive in New Zealand in mid-April, and will be available for tasking on arrival in a passenger configuration. The second aircraft is due to arrive in early June, in the same configuration. The cargo-carrying modifications will be completed in 2004.

Q. What modifications will be carried out? A. To be modified to a combination freight/passenger capability the aircraft will have a cargo door installed, their floors strengthened, and other related structural modifications. There are some additional modifications such as the installation of auxiliary fuel tanks, air stairs and limited communication and navigational equipment upgrades.

Q. What work will be done in New Zealand?

A. The level of New Zealand work is unknown.

Q. What will the aircraft be used for?

A. The 757s will be used for strategic airlift tasks, including the transport of freight and passengers in support of the Government’s defence policy objectives. The planes also meet the requirements of a wide-cross section of government agencies, including Immigration, Police, Customs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, and the Maritime Safety Authority, among others. The planes are used for a variety of tasks, both civilian and military (see Why a cargo capability for the 757s? above)

Q. Who will fly them?

A. The aircraft will be crewed and supported by the RNZAF.

Q. What will they cost?

A. The full cost of the capability will not be finalised until the cargo modification and other modifications are completed. The total cost of the capability will be within the Long Term Development Plan, which has the cost at between $100m and $200m. A detailed breakdown of the project budget will be made public after the project is completed.

Q. What will this mean for the Government’s defence policy objectives?

A. As a result of the decision to replace the Boeing 727, New Zealand will have a more capable, available, and reliable fleet of air transport aircraft, able to undertake a variety of defence policy tasks locally, regionally, and globally, and also able to support many other government agencies that rely on these aircraft for the specialist tasks they can perform.

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