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First Royal New Zealand Air Force Beechcraft T-6C takes flight

written by WOFA | June 26, 2014
The first RNZAF T-6C takes off. (RNZAF)
The first RNZAF T-6C takes off. (RNZAF)

The first RNZAF Beechcraft T-6C advanced trainer has made its first flight from Beechcraft’s Wichita facility in Kansas on June 10.

The aircraft – NZ1401 – made the flight with a Beechcraft company crew at the controls and lasted two hours, and functionality checks such as flight performance and handling characteristics were conducted. It will carry the US civil registration of N2824B while the initial flight test program is completed.

New Zealand ordered 11 T-6Cs in January to replace CT-4E trainers in the basic course, and elements of the advanced course currently conducted by the King Air. The first six RNZAF Qualified Flying Instructors (QFIs) are due to commence their conversion to the T-6C in August, and the first four aircraft will be delivered by the end of this year.

The aircraft will be based at Ohakea, and will commence pilot training in mid-2015 by which time all 11 aircraft will have been delivered.


  • Daniel Town


    I’ve got nothing against the pursue of these aircraft, but i do think it is wrong for them to completely replace the CT/4’s. I mean do you a new & inexperienced student in a multi-million dollar aircraft which when lost, will be unlikely to be replaced. What the RNZAF should do is buy a small fleet (6 or so) of the new CT/F’s who’s cockpit is loosely based on the T-6C’s, as a stepping stone into this new & invaluable aircraft particularly with the RNZAF’s limited budget. Not to mention support New Zealand’s aviation manufacturing industry.
    And maybe the RNZAF could convert some the orders the T-6C to AT-6C’s, just to give the RNZAF a very small attack ability?

  • Jeff Atkinson


    Attack who ? Illegal fishing boats.That would be the amount of it ,Thats if they had the long range ability.Otherwise the only other place would be south asia? Yes,

  • ngatimozart


    There has been no request from the NZ Army for the RNZAF to have an airborne ground attack capability, so no need at present for any AT6C capability in the NZDF. With regard to the an inito training role it is better for the RNZAF to have a single type rather two distinct types with their distinct operate logistical and support systems and costs. Pacific Aerospace would’ve have submitted a tender for the training package. I believe that in the US the T6 is used for ab inito training.

  • ARG


    @ Daniel Town

    Sounds like just another aircraft type to operate which brings with it additional operating costs
    putting more of a long-term strain on the RNZAF budget. I’m sure that in many air forces the world over this type of aircraft is an entry type machine…I would hope they have a few more of these to perhaps replace the CT-4s used in the Red Checkers. Quite frankly I’m embarrassed every time I see these rubber band machines in flight displays, as if they represent the best of our Air force has to offer.

  • jason


    Fantastic that the RNZAF are buying such an excellent aircraft and hopefully in time is the 1st step towards rebuilding the Strike-Wing in the future, wishful thinking maybe at the moment but who 5 years ago wouldve thought that the NZ Goverment would approve buying T-6’s??

  • Gibbo


    This is a great move forward for RNZAF pilot training, but is purely that, it in no way signifies a return to a strike wing (Unfortunately!). RNZAF did a comprehensive evaluation by all accounts, including things such as ownership & maintenance models – therefore interesting to see they’re moving from a lease (CT4E) to full ownership (T6) but with commercial maintenance contracts (incl. the ‘bang’ seats apparently).

    I think they’ve made a good, well thought through choice – from what I understand the benefits of a single type were found to be significant, especially $$$ as you suggest ARG. The T6 is from all accounts is quite forgiving & well suited to basic training as well as the advanced syllabus.

    Daniel Town – I wouldn’t assume newbies will be crashing aircraft – AFAIK RNZAF only wrote-off 1 CT4B/E in almost 40 years (happy to be corrected) & that was a CT4E flown by a QFI.

    The key thing here is due to the robustness of the project evaluation they saw the value of simulators – so they’re purchasing 2 fixed-base Sim’s which will help prepare newbies so that when they do start flying the T6 they’ll have a fair bit of Sim time & s/e familiar with cockpit layout & procedures. That to a degree negates the need for a separate basic trainer fleet.

  • Raymond


    Jason, that’s what a change in government gets you.

  • Glen


    They look like a great choice to me a proven design that is used by many air forces round the world . Has to be better than the out of date CT4 which looks to me well past it’s sell by date.

  • Roy


    ARG the checkers take their AC from the current fleet as it is (12 CT4) so with 11 T6 and 2 sim why would they need extra AC? The displays in the CT4s were good so they should only get better with T6.

    Agreed Gibbo only one loss and sadly to an experienced pilot so not sure why Daniel wants to keep a separate fleet of legacy aircraft. You can have an accident just as easily in a thousand dollar plane as you can in a million dollar one and they don’t just let newbie pilots do their own thing from day one.

  • Darren


    Excellent aircraft and speedy progress of contract. Should be a winner for the RNZAF. Excuse my ignorance but do the RNZAF have a civil flight screen program like the RAAF? And for multi engine training is there a need for King Airs for both training and utility?

  • David


    Pity they weren’t PC21s . First with RAAF capability with in the two services and at the end of life selling to
    Collectors. Short sighted I would think.


  • Chris


    Excellent choice as a trainer, good enough for Israelis then good enough for us.
    Why worry about a Strike capability while we have only a few Maritime Patrol a/c for a huge EEZ and the transports are nearing their SIXTH decade in service. Updates only achieve so much. Not convinced by the NH90 either, should have been 15 odd AW139s or some such.

  • aussie0000


    what happens tp the obsolete aircraft?

  • Gibbo


    The 12 remaining CT4E are leased from Pacific Aerospace Limited, with RNZAF due to end the lease in March 2015. So it’ll be up to PAL what happens to them. Whether 1 ends up staying with the RNZAF for it’s museum and/or historic flight we’ll have to wait & see I guess. The airframes are only about 16 years old but the key determinant in their marketability will be their fatigue life – I’m not aware of what that picture looks like. If PAL can get a good price on the open market for 2nd handers then I guess that’s what they’ll do.

  • Glen


    The RNZAF have also bought simulators in so any new pilots will spend many hours of practise before going anywhere near these aircraft. That will also weed out the non starters without wasting avtur or avgas.

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