New Zealand has delayed plans to upgrade the Royal New Zealand Air Force's (RNZAF) CT4B primary-trainer fleet by replacing its 17 155kW (210hp) trainers with the later 225kW CT4E variant.

The RNZAF has instead named the CT4's manufacturer, Hamilton-based Pacific Aerospace (PACL), as preferred tenderer for all levels of maintenance and engineering support on the existing fleet at the RNZAF's Ohakea base. Subject to negotiation, the maintenance work will be handed over to PACL in early 1998.

The RNZAF says that, although the CT4E acquisition has been "overtaken" by the maintenance deal, it may be re-addressed "at a future time". The RNZAF has evaluated the CT4E and is understood to have recommended it as a replacement.

The RNZAF has also issued requests for proposals (RFPs) which could effectively see it's four Hawker Siddeley Andovers sold to the private sector and then leased back.

"We've gone out to industry for as many innovative proposals as they can come up with, on the basis that whatever type is selected, we would only lease it, not own it," says the force.

The RFP does not specify a number of aircraft, but invites industry proposals based on line availability to service specified training commitments.

The number of aircraft is likely also to be affected by some limited VIP transport requirement, which is yet to be defined by the government. The RNZAF also plans to put its heavy maintenance site at Woodburn onto a commercial basis.

Source: Flight International