Over the next four months the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) will take delivery of four Mitsubishi MU-2F fixed-wing aircraft and six Kaman SH-2F Seasprite helicopters. The Air Force has been looking into revitalising its aging training aids at RNZAF Ground Training Wing (GTW) Woodbourne near Blenheim to ensure its current and upgraded aviation fleet can meet the needs of New Zealand into the future.
"This is an exciting time for the Air Force to move our maintenance training capability onto aircraft systems and airframes that are more akin to our current aircraft types, but also creating the training capacity and skill sets for our new aircraft capabilities and systems we will receive in the near-future," said the Deputy Chief of Air Force, Air Commodore Gavin Howse.
The first two Mitsubishi MU-2Fs are due to fly in to Woodbourne from Texas, USA this weekend or early next week, depending on the weather. The second two aircraft are undergoing pre-flight maintenance and are scheduled to leave the USA early August.
The six Kaman SH-2F Seasprite helicopters have been in storage in the Arizona desert for 14 years and are due to be shipped to New Zealand late 2009.
The aircraft will be used by the GTW for technical trade training. They will replace the aging de Havilland Devon aircraft and Bell 47 Sioux helicopters which have served their purpose but are no longer relevant training aids as the Air Force undergoes modernisation across all fleets. They allow future Air Force Avionics and Aircraft technicians to learn their trades on aircraft more relevant to the Air Force's modernised fleet.
The Commanding Officer of GTW, Wing Commander Nigel Sainsbury said, "The delivery of these aircraft not only sees the successful and early achievement of another initiative within the RNZAF Strategic Plan, but consolidates GTW’s reputation as a 'First Class' provider of Aeronautical Training for the RNZAF, allowing future training to be aligned with the rest of the Aviation Industry in New Zealand."
Please note that these aircraft are not intended to fly, but simply to train our maintenance personnel.
BACKGROUND NOTES: RNZAF Ground Training Wing Woodbourne
Today, GTW Woodbourne is the Air Force's only support base. Units at Woodbourne are responsible for the training of recruits, initial officer training, trade training and command training. The Ground Training Wing was created in 1995 from existing units at Woodbourne and those relocated from Wigram and Hobsonville.
Also at Woodbourne is the Air Force's only heavy maintenance facility for the repair of aircraft airframes, engines and avionics systems. This unit was commercialised in 1998 and is now managed by Safe Air Ltd. With a typical student population, Woodbourne has personnel strength of around 1,250.
This comprises 700 service personnel and 100 civilians, while around 450 contractor's staff operate the Repair Depot and provide essential support services. (ends)