Kiwis Launch Utility Turboprop

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New Zealand has entered the increasingly crowded utility aircraft sector with a low-wing turboprop aimed initially at the skydiving market. Pacific Aerospace Corporation expects to have FAA certification early next year for the PAC 750 XL. It's the first passenger aircraft ever designed and built in New Zealand and the company claims to have 18 orders and 260 options lined up in Europe, Australia, Africa and North America for the rugged plane, which can carry up to 17 jumpers to 12,000 feet in 12 minutes. North American distributor Utility Aircraft Corporation is marketing it as a skydiving plane. With a 750-hp Pratt and Whitney turboprop, a high-lift wing and beefy landing gear, the company claims the plane can operate from short, rough strips with a 4,500-pound payload. Cruise is about 160 knots with a five-hour range. Cargo, commuter, medevac, sightseeing and reconnaissance versions are also planned. The new airplane is based on Pacific Aerospace's successful line of trainers and agricultural aircraft. The company has been in business for 50 years.