The history of Pacific Aerospace 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.
Pacific Aerospace 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
Pacific Aerospace'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 July 2007 Pacific Aerospace celebrated the production of its 600th aircraft, spanning back to the 1950's when the first Fletchers were produced. Since January 2007 Pacific Aerospace has lifted production of the XSTOL by 42% and continues to ramp up. New markets include India, Nepal, Latin America, China and Russia.