Papua New Guinea’s Defence Force (PNGDF) has restored its fixed-wing aviation capability with the certification of its Pacific Aerospace PAC-750XL aircraft for flight with the help of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
Papua New Guinea (PNG) bought three PAC-750 XLs in 2018, however, since 2019 they have sat unused in the PNGDF’s hangar due to regulatory and maintenance issues. In September 2021, one of the aircraft completed a checkout flight after maintenance with a PNGDF pilot at the controls. This was the first time that a PAC-750XL had been flown by a PNGDF pilot on PNG soil.
Under the auspices of the PNG-Australia Defence Cooperation Program (DCP), since 2019 Australian authorities have been helping PNG to develop a sustainable and sovereign aviation capability. This has included loadmaster and medevac training for PNGDF personnel, as well as a sister squadron arrangement being signed between the RAAF’s No. 35 Squadron – which operates the RAAF’s fleet of C-27J Spartans in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations – and the PNGDF Air Transport Wing.
Parts of PNG are incredibly remote and often inaccessible by any means other than air. Having a sovereign, short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft like the PAC 750XL provides an important capability to the country, its government and its defence force.
Cover Image Courtesy Commonwealth of Australia.