New Zealand aviation industry marks 1000th plane manufactured in Waikato region

September 23, 2009

Celebrations were held today at Hamilton International Airport commemorating the 1000th aircraft manufactured in the Waikato region of New Zealand.

This major milestone for the New Zealand aviation industry comes nearly 50 years after the first plane rolled off production lines at Pacific Aerospace – the successor to one of New Zealand’s first aviation companies, James Aviation.

Minister of Research Science and Technology, Dr Wayne Mapp, was the keynote speaker at the celebration and said that the aviation industry is a growing and significant contributor to New Zealand’s economy and Government support is strong, and multi-faceted.

“The wider aviation industry employs more than 16,000 staff in more than 700 companies which export goods and services worth more than NZ$800 million. The industry’s goal is to reach NZ$2 billion in exports within the next ten years. Aircraft manufacture and component supply is providing a visible and important face to the industry,” said Minister Mapp.

The 1000 airplanes have been manufactured by four companies and represent eight models including: five models manufactured by Pacific Aerospace - the P-750 XSTOL, CT-4, Cresco, Fletcher and Air Tourer, Alpha Aviation’s Alpha 160A Trainer, Micro Aviation’s Bantam B22 Microlight and Autoflight’s Dominator Gyrocopter.

The largest manufacturer, Pacific Aerospace, holds the honour of achieving the 1000th aircraft with its latest P-750 XSTOL aircraft destined for export to South Africa.

Referring to his company’s accomplishment, Pacific Aerospace CEO, Damian Camp, said, “we are delighted to have produced the one thousandth aircraft. It is a major milestone that highlights the long and colourful history of Pacific Aerospace and the wider aviation cluster. This milestone sets the scene for our company’s continued success and provides emerging manufacturers with an accomplishment they can springboard off.”

Of the 1000 aircraft, Pacific Aerospace produced 627, Micro Aviation produced 333, Alpha Aviation produced 23 and Autoflight produced 17 gyrocopters.

Aircraft from most of the models joined in an impressive air display for Minister Gerry Mapp, aviation industry members, local politicians and industry stakeholders present at today’s celebrations. Each aircraft demonstrated its unique flying capabilities. The Royal New Zealand Air Force also performed an aerobatic demonstration in its Pacific Aerospace-manufactured CT-4 aircraft.

Today’s celebrations were organised by the local cluster of aviation industry companies. Originally formed in 2007 as the Waikato Aviation Cluster, this group of over 50 companies has quickly extended its reach throughout New Zealand and now works alongside Aviation NZ, which has a complimentary export focus.

AIC General Manager, Shaun Mitchell says the success of the cluster has led to it re-launching itself from today as the Aviation Industry Cluster. It will now have a national focus.

“The Aviation Industry Cluster is working to become the Australasian centre of light aircraft manufacturing, maintenance and airline pilot training.

“That means we are developing new capabilities and extra supply chain capacity to attract more company’s to build aircraft in New Zealand. We’re also working hard to support existing manufacturers,” he explained.

Mr Mitchell also said the AIC was collaborating on setting up a state-of-the-art specialist aviation painting facility in Hamilton targeting international aircraft manufacturers throughout Australasia and Southeast Asia.

With several niche aircraft designs, and revolutionary new titanium materials from Bay of Plenty firm Titanox, the New Zealand aviation industry expects the next 1000 aircraft will be produced within 7-10 years. Achieving this new target will raise New Zealand’s profile as the global leader in light aircraft design, modelling, prototyping, certification and production.

“The New Zealand aviation industry has had an exciting history, but the potential for its future is mind-boggling. Industry exports totalled $800 million last year. However, we now have sixteen new aviation projects in the pipeline - fifteen of those being new aircraft designs. These new projects represent a potential $927 million in annual exports,” says Mr Mitchell.

The 16 prototype projects are at different stages with some still requiring investment. The projects include revolutionary designs for an amphibian aircraft, military and civilian gliders, as well as an innovative short haul cargo plane, all of which can be built in New Zealand.

“If New Zealand really wants to make its mark on the global aviation industry, all companies across the country need to work together to become a world-renown hub. The Aviation Industry Cluster is stepping up to take the lead and make it happen,” says Mr Mitchell.

August 31, 2009

Issued by Waikato Regional Airport Limited