The history of NZAero dates back to World War II when a facility was established at Hamilton Airport by the US military in support of its Pacific campaign. Since then the facility has evolved from aircraft maintenance and modification to aircraft kit assembly to the present day aircraft design and manufacture.
NZAero has operated under a number of different names adding to its rich history. Company names include:
- James Aviation Ltd - formed 1949
- Air Parts (NZ) - 1958
- Aero Engine Services Ltd - formed 1954
- New Zealand Aerospace Industries Ltd. - formed 1972
- Pacific Aerospace Corporation Ltd. - formed 1982
- Pacific Aerospace Ltd. - formed 2006
- NZSkydive Ltd - since 2021
NZAero's origins lie in two separate companies that operated in two different continents in the 1950s and 1960s. Victa Aviation, which developed and produced the Victa Airtourer and prototype Victa Aircruiser in the 1960s in Sydney Australia, and the Fletcher Aircraft Corporation which developed the Fletcher FU-24 in California in the 1950's.
In the late 1950s several FU-24 operators; James Aviation, Thames Aerial Topdressing and Robertson's Air Services, formed Air Parts (NZ) Ltd at Hamilton Airport to provide aftermarket sales and service to FU-24 operators. Also in the mid 1950s Aero Engine Services Ltd (AESL) was formed to provide Engine and component overhaul facilities in support of the FU-24 program.
These businesses continued on until the 1960s when things began to change for the both of them. In 1965 Air Parts (NZ) Ltd secured the manufacturing rights to the Fletcher FU-24 and began producing detail parts and FU-24 Aircraft locally. In 1967 AESL secured the manufacturing rights to the Victa Airtourer and also began detail and Aircraft production locally. Both companies then enjoyed some years of expansion and development.
AESL provided the catalyst for the next change. In the early 1970s it had developed the CT-4 Airtrainer out of the prototype Victa Aircruiser and successfully secured contracts to supply the Airtrainer to the RAAF and RTAF. As a result of this, there were moves to get the New Zealand Government involved and merge Air Parts (NZ) Ltd and AESL into a new strong entity.
New Zealand Aerospace Industries Ltd (NZASIL) was born in 1973 with a 50% Government shareholding, (25% Air New Zealand and 25% National Airways Corporation), with the other 50% shareholding remaining with the previous companies shareholders such as James Aviation.
NZASIL started off well and successfully marketed both lines of Aircraft all around the world. Peak production was reached in 1975 with the delivery of 36 CT-4 Airtrainers and 14 FU-24s a total of 50 Aircraft for the year.
Things quietened down several years later when CT-4 production slowed and all that remained was short run FU-24 production.
In July 1982 Pacific Aerospace Corporation, (PAC), was formed to carry on the manufacturing activities of NZASIL. A couple of years later the maintenance side of James Aviation was absorbed into the PAC structure.
By the late 1980s PAC had been purchased by Aerospace Technologies of Australia (ASTA). ASTA's main interest was for PAC to produce detail parts for its commercial Airliner contracts with Boeing and Airbus. Production of PAC aircraft was secondary. In 1995 ASTA sold PAC to the Hamilton based and owned Aeromotive Group.
Under Aeromotive ownership PAC began its renaissance producing Aircraft on a regular basis again. In late 1995 Cresco topdressing aircraft started regularly moving down the production line again , in 1998 the CT-4E was put into production and in 2000 the development of a brand new aircraft, the P-750 XSTOL, commenced.
In November 2006, a New Zealand consortium of aviation related professionals saw great potential in the company, in particular its P-750 XSTOL aircraft, and purchased the assets of the company. Pacific Aerospace Corporation became Pacific Aerospace Limited.
In 2016, a Chinese company took a 50% stake in Pacific Aerospace Ltd with the intention of producing 750XL aircraft for the Chinese domestic market. During their tenure, the 750XL-II project was started.
In April 2021, a New Zealand aviation couple acquired the assets of the company and continued where Pacific Aerospace Ltd left off, as NZSkydive Ltd now trading as NZAero.
In 2022 we celebrated the production of the 700th aircraft from the factory at Hamilton. Our aircraft now operate in 55 countries and on 6 continents including Turkey, Syria, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Uruguay, Singapore, Switzerland, England, United States of America, Nepal and New Zealand.
In August 2023, the new Type Certificate Amendment for the 750XL-II SuperPac was issued, 20 years after the business received its Type Certificate for the 750XL. In October 2023, we received the Certificate of Airworthiness for the first 750XL-II off the production line and launched the SuperPac in November 2023.
The company's core business is aircraft design and manufacture. This allows us to:
1. Manufacture Aircraft:
- 750XL Utility Aircraft
- 750XL-II SuperPac (The next generation XSTOL aircraft, featuring PT6A-140A engine, Hartzell 4-bladed propeller, Garmin avionics and enhanced design features)
- CT4 Airtrainer series
- E-350 Expedition
- Cresco Aircraft
2. Manufacture components and spare parts for all the legacy aircraft produced from this factory.