• A Pacific Aerospace E350 Expedition. (Pacific Aerospace)
    A Pacific Aerospace E350 Expedition. (Pacific Aerospace)

Iconic New Zealand aeroplane builder Pacific Aerospace (PAL) has gone into administration, generating uncertainty around the fate of the type certificates.

Hamilton-based PAL is the manufacturer of the 750XL turbo-prop utility and the E350 Expedition, but holds the type certificates (TC) for several legacy aircraft such as the Cresco and CT4 Airtrainer.

In the first three quarters of 2020, PAL sold only one 750XL and one E350 Expedition single-engined high-wing, but in November had announced the intention to put the Cresco agricultural aircraft back into production after 20 years.

However, last Wednesday the company informed NZ's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that they were insolvent.

The CAA on Friday said that aircraft operating under PAL TCs can continue to fly despite the company's financial problems.

“The CAA was informed on Wednesday about PAL’s financial status and since then we’ve been working through what the implications are for PAL aircraft operating in New Zealand and around the world,” CAA Deputy Chief Executive Aviation Safety Dean Winter said.

“As a result, yesterday we suspended PAL’s certificates, which had previously allowed it to design, manufacture and maintain aircraft.

“These certificates require the organisation to be in a financial position to comply with all their safety requirements and this is sadly no longer the case for PAL.”

On Thursday, the CAA notified operators of PAL aircraft that they’ll be able to continue flying their aircraft unless a serious safety or airworthiness issue is identified which would affect all aircraft of that type.

The CAA is reviewing how safety issues involving PAL aircraft could be addressed in future, with potential options including:

  • reinstating PAL’s TCs if the company is able to meet its responsibilities
  • the CAA assuming responsibility for PAL aircraft;
  • transferring TCs to another operator which is willing and able to meet its responsibilities
  • suspending or revoking the TCs allowing PAL aircraft to operate if none of the options above are practicable.

Winter says the CAA will work hard with industry to find a suitable holder for PAL TCs so the aircraft can remain operational in NZ and other countries around the world.

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