Jet Aviation has hosted a ceremony in Canberra to celebrate 20 years of supporting the RAAF’s fleet of King Air 350s.
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The company now supports a fleet of 11, operated by No. 32 Squadron.
Craig Purry, vice president of Jet Aviation Defence APAC, said its King Air Program was an “exemplar” in showing how commercial support systems can collaborate with Defence.
The business first supported the aircraft out of its facility in East Sale, Australia in 2002, after agreeing to a 10-year term for lease and turn-key support.
In 2012, the partnership was extended for a further decade and expanded to include support for over 110,000 flying hours, airborne training, light transport and Army support roles.
“From the very beginning, the capability has proven to be safe, reliable, flexible, and effective for the ADF,” said Purry.
“The strength of the capability has always been its people and the relationships between industry and Defence.
“I am particularly proud of our employees, those who were with us at the beginning as Hawker Pacific, and those who continue with us today as Jet Aviation.
“All have contributed to the capability over the past 20 years, including those that supported the Army Fixed Wing Capability at the Army Aviation Centre in Oakey between 2005 and 2009, and the Townsville team that supported No. 38 Squadron between 2009 and 2018.”
The modern twin-engine turboprop is mostly used for training — both the Air Force Mission Aircrew and Navy Maritime Aviation Warfare Officers at Air Mission Training School — but they’re also dispatched for air logistic support, electronic warfare and surveillance.
Group Captain Nigel Ward, Officer Commanding RAAF Air Academy, said, “The King Air 350 capability has provided the RAAF with a safe and reliable training platform for mission aircrew and multi-engine glass cockpit pilot training.
“The King Air has provided humanitarian support across the region and is a regular visitor to the wider Asia-Pacific, providing fast and reliable light transport capabilities.”
The ceremony was attended by representatives from the RAAF, Army and Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG). A larger celebration with employees will take place later in the year at East Sale.
Defence Connect’s sister brand, Australian Aviation, reported in September how a KA350 has been patrolling the south-west Pacific to conduct surveillance missions to stop illegal fishing.
The aircraft, along with a C-27J Spartan, was helping the island countries of Vanuatu and Kiribati as part of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Island Chief.
The RAAF C-27J Spartan and KA350 aircraft operated out of Port Vila and Tarawa, respectively, at the request of the government of Kiribati.
The KA350 crew reportedly flew 10 missions for the FFA, detecting and reporting more than 15 suspicious vessels and helping locate 10 vessels of interest.