23 Nov 2023

NZ aeronautical company develops new plane

From Morning Report, 8:57 am on 23 November 2023

A Kiwi aeronautical company with a chequered past has developed a new plane it says can help save lives during natural disasters, and fight the impacts of climate change.

NZ Aero, based in Hamilton, was formally Pacific Aerospace, which in 2017 admitted to unlawfully exporting aircraft parts to North Korea.

Since then the company was bought out, and has developed its SuperPac XSTOL aircraft.

It can take off and land with just a rugged, 200-metre-long runway, and has been sold to 28 countries, including places in Africa where it's used with the United Nations World Food Programme.

The plane can be fitted out to help fight wildfires, or it can be used to seed clouds, causing rainfall in drought-stricken locations.

NZ Aero chief executive Stephen Burrows spoke to Corin Dann.