AESL CT/4 Airtrainer


The Airtrainer is a development of the Victa airtourer (CT/2) and aircruiser (CT/3) family created by Henry Millicer. Aero Engine Services Ltd (AESL) had acquired the rights for the Airtourer and Aircruiser from Victa in 1966. Developed by Pat Monk, the aircraft was designed as an ab-initio trainer (with +6/-3 G limits), and first flew on February 23, 1972. The design passed to NZ Aerospace Industries when AESL and Air Parts NZ merged in 1972 (now Pacific Aerospace Corporation Ltd (PACL)) in Hamilton. The prototype CT/4A, ZK-DGY, was displayed at the Paris airshow in 1975. First production deliveries of the CT/4A were to the Royal Thai Airforce who took 24 aircraft from October 1973. The CT/4A aircraft was also used by the RAAF, and deliveries began in January 1975 ( where it replaced the Winjel). The original order of 37 aircraft (A19-027 to A19-63), was supplemented by 14 further aircraft (originally intended for Rhodesia) in 1981. The original RAAF green and yellow scheme caused it to be known as the 'Plastic Parrot'. Forty-four of the aircraft were flown across the Tasman by well-known kiwi-pilot Cliff Tait, then Chief Pilot at NZAI. Three aircraft were also delivered to the Hong Kong Auxilliary Air Force, and one to the Thai Border Police. The next development, the CT/4B featured structural improvements, and an inverted oil system. The CT/4B was ordered by the RNZAF (initially 13 aircraft) in 1975, and the Royal Thai Air Force aquired 6 in 1992. British Aerospace Flight Training based in Tamworth, NSW acquired 12 for a civil flying school operated in association with Ansett. The next step was a turbine version, the CT/4C. Built with the USAF EFS contract in mind, the Allison 250-B17D turbine powered prototype ZK-FXM first flew as such on January 21, 1991. (The aircraft was NZ1940 c/n 088, a CT/4B borrowed from the RNZAF). This was an unsuccessful contender for the EFS contract, but the turbine powerplant remains an option for customers. The latest development is the CT/4E which entered service with the RNZAF in 1998. The CT/4E features a 300hp as compared to 210hp engine, and has structural changes to the wing location to allow for the change in the centre of gravity. Stability and spin performance have been enhanced by this, and the extra power means the aircraft carries an extra 34kg (75 lb) with an improved rate of climb. The cockpit has received an overhaul with a full IFR panel. Externally, the new model is 10cm longer, and features a three bladed Hartzell propellor and modified cowlings. The protype CT/4E ZK-PAC was originally an RAAF aircraft A19-67 (c/n 067) ZK-EUN which first flew in its new configuration on November 16, 1991. Type certification was completed on June 17,1992. Full details on the CT/4E can be found here.

The airtrainer is one of three New Zealand built aircraft operated by the RNZAF (the others being the DHNZ Tiger Moth, and the Airtourer), but the only one designed in New Zealand. Ordered in July 1975, the CT/4B Airtourer entered RNZAF service in 1976 (NZ1930-NZ1948) as an ab-initio trainer. The first 13 aircraft were supplemented by a further 6 aircraft in 1978. Originally based at RNZAF Wigram, restructuring saw the aircraft redeployed to RNZAF Ohakea prior to Wigram closing in September 1995. The aircraft are operated jointly by the Pilot Training Squadron (PTS) and the Central Flying School (CFS), and are allocated approximately 6,800 hours annually. The PTS conducts ab-initio pilot training, through a 34 week course comprising 108 hours dual and 38 hours solo flying. The trainees then move onto the next phase according to their stream (strike, rotary, or multi-engine). The CFS train instructors, both for the PTS and to operate at squadron level. In addition, the CFS operate the 'Red Checkers' formation aerobatic team. The team history dates back to the early 70's when Harvards were used. The CT/4 has been employed by the team since 1980. One aircraft (NZ1934, c/n 082) was lost in an accident on September 2, 1991. The instructor, F/L Garrick Beats was killed and his student injured when the aircraft struck the ground in turbulence below the Clent Hills Saddle. The Airtrainer initially operated in a grey and red scheme (illustrated below). From December 1994 a six month trial of higher visibility markings was commenced trying yellow, black, red, and white schemes. This resulted in a new black and yellow scheme (as illustrated below) being adopted.

The CT/4B Airtrainer began phasing out of service during 1998, to be replaced by the CT/4E. The RNZAF entered a contract to lease 13 new aircraft from the Pacific Aerospace Corporation on August 13 1998. The contract is for 20 years, and is reported to cost in the order of NZ$30 million. This includes all maintenance by PAC subsidiary Aeromotive Ltd, and superceded an earlier contract for the maintenance of the CT/4B aircraft on site at RNZAF Base Ohakea. The decision not to buy was seen as a way of enabling the Air Force to maintain modern aircraft at a lower cost - and parallels a contract with Aeromotive Ltd to supply and maintain three Beech B200 aircraft. The first aircraft was delivered on 28 August 1998, with the last following just under a year later. The Thai Air Force has also acquired 12 CT/4E aircraft.

The current RNZAF CT/4E's are:

c/nNZ regonto NZ regw/d NZ regRNZAF serial
200ZK-PTA28 Jul 9824 Sep 98NZ1986
201ZK-PTB28 Jul 9824 Sep 98NZ1986
202ZK-PTC10 Sep 9825 Sep 98NZ1987
203ZK-PTD10 Sep 9820 Oct 98NZ1988
204ZK-PTE5 Oct 9813 Nov 98NZ1989
205ZK-PTF5 Oct 9810 Dec 98NZ1990
206ZK-PTG17 Nov 9824 Dec 98NZ1991
207ZK-PTH17 Nov 9820 Jan 99NZ1992
208ZK-PTI22 Jan 996 Aug 99NZ1993
209ZK-PTJ22 Jan 9929 Mar 99NZ1994
210ZK-PTK10 Feb 997 Apr 99NZ1995
211ZK-PTL10 Feb 997 May 99NZ1996
212ZK-PTM13 May 9916 Jun 99NZ1997

Apart from aircraft transitioning to military ownership, the first civil CT/4B operated in New Zealand was the prototype, ZK-DGY. This aircraft was sold by PAC in 1983 and is now in the hands of a warbird syndicate based at Ardmore. A former RAAF CT/4A aircraft A19-055, now ZK-CTA (c/n 55 formerly ZK-EAR) is also based at Ardmore. This has been joined by another ex-RAAF aircraft, the former A19-042 (c/n 042). Originally registered ZK-EAE on May 27, 1975, this aircraft first flew on July 4 of that year. It entered RAAF service on August 11th. The aircraft rejoined the civil register 18 years later on August 5th, 1993 as VH-JDN. Having passed through three owners, the Australian registration was cancelled on March 19, 1999 when the aircraft became ZK-LJH. (Approximately 30 ex-RAAF CT/4A are operated on the Australian civil register). PACL still have the CT/4E prototype (c/n 067 ex A19-67, ZK-EUN) now registered ZK-PAC (as at 23 Jun 97).

The ex-RNZAF Airtrainers are finding their way onto the civil register, but generally not in New Zealand. Most of the RNZAF CT/4B have been refurbished by Aeromotive Ltd for British Aerospace Flight Training Ltd. This required substantial work as the aircraft had been modified during their military service and required retrospective design schemes to complete the civil documentation for Certificates of Airworthiness to be issued. Apart from minor airframe modifications and painting, the cockpit and avionics fits required a major upgrade to meet the Australian CASA requirements. This included fitting GPS and TCAD (traffic contact alert devices). Initially nine aircraft were flown, and one trucked into Hamilton for the work. The first three were RNZAF attrition airframes, which were followed by further aircraft as the CT/4B was replaced in RNZAF service by the CT/4E. All the aircraft are now at, or have been through the Hamilton facility. The refurbished aircraft have been ferried across the Tasman to the BAe/Ansett Flight Training base in Tamworth, NSW bringing their fleet to a total of 26 Airtrainers (as at June 1, 2000). These aircraft are:

c/nRNZAF serial1st flgtinto serviceNZ civil regoonto NZ regw/d NZ regAus civil regoonto Aus reg
078NZ19307 May 7627 Jul 76ZK-JJR9 Dec 9916 Dec 99VH-YCX16 Dec 99
079NZ19312 Aug 76ZK-JJF13 Oct 981 Jul 99VH-YCU5 Jul 99
080NZ193217 Aug 7614 Sep 76ZK-JJZ9 Dec 9916 Dec 99VH-YCZ16 Dec 99
084NZ19365 Oct 7619 Nov 76ZK-JJU30 Jun 9811 Nov 98VH-YCJ12 Nov 98
085NZ1937ZK-JJP4 Nov 9912 Nov 99VH-YAB12 Nov 99
087NZ19395 Nov 7614 Jan 77ZK-JJY22 Dec 9824 Mar 99VH-YCO26 Mar 99
088NZ1940ZK-FXM4 Dec 984 Feb 99VH-YCQ4 Feb 99
089NZ194119 Nov 7618 Feb 77ZK-JJV20 Nov 983 Feb 99VH-YCR4 Feb 99
090NZ194227 Nov 7612 Feb 77ZK-JJE2 Oct 987 Jan 99VH-YCS8 Nov 99
091NZ194326 Jan 7825 Feb 78ZK-JJX4 Dec 9819 Feb 98VH-YCT9 Mar 99
092NZ194415 Mar 7811 Apr 78ZK-JJS30 Jun 9811 Nov 98VH-YCN12 Nov 98
093NZ194524 Apr 7826 May 78ZK-JJT30 Jun 987 Jan 99VH-YCV8 Jan 99
094NZ1946ZK-JJQ4 Nov 9915 Nov 99VH-YCP15 Nov 99
095NZ194721 Jul 7828 Jul 78ZK-JJO10 Feb 997 May 99VH-YCW10 May 99

NZ1940 (c/n 088) resumed the ZK-FXM registration it held as the turbine powered CT/4C test aircraft in the early 90's, the aircraft being redesignated as a CT/4B on the day it was re-registered. NZ1936 (c/n 084) also appeared on the civil register between April 29 and May 23, 1994 as ZK-JDS when the aircraft was used by PAC for trials on an airconditioning system being developed for the Royal Thai Air Force Airtrainers. NZ1948 (c/n 096) was registered to Aeromotive ltd as ZK-JLA on February 10, 2000. This aircraft has subsequently been donated to the RNZAF Museum. The aircraft which first flew on August 19, 1978 had originally joined the RNZAF on August 26 of that year.

Last Text Update:- 28 June, 2000
Last Picture Update:- 2 December, 2002

Technical Data

Data is for the CT/4B


  • CT/4A

  • CT/4B

  • flyby - side view - airshow 1992 flyby - top view - airshow 1992 on the ground - airshow 1993 taxying - airshow 1995 taxying - airshow 1998 parked - airshow 1998 parked - airshow 1998 3 abreast landing - airshow 1998 ?? - airshow 1998 ?? - airshow 1998

  • CT/4E

  • ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??

    Close Up

    The aircraft illustrated is a CT-4B of the Red Checkers aerobatic team. The yellow and black paint scheme was adopted in 1995 and has been carried over to the new CT-4E aircraft. The engine picture is one of the ex-RNZAF CT-4B aircraft being 'civilianised at Aeromotive Ltd. Remember to let me know if you have a request for an image of a particular part of the aircraft!

  • CT/4B

  • control panel - airshow 1993 ?? - airshow 1998 ?? - airshow 1998 ?? - airshow 1998 ?? - airshow 1998 ?? - airshow 1998 ?? - airshow 1998 ??
    ?? - airshow 1998 ?? - airshow 1998 ?? - airshow 1998

  • CT/4E

  • ??

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