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NZ-made plane in North Korea sold to China

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/10/2016

There doesn't appear to be anything sinister behind the appearance of a New Zealand-made aircraft at a North Korean air show.

The 10-seater Pacific Aerospace P-750 XSTOL was spotted at North Korea's inaugural Wonson International Friendship Festival last week.

The North Korean flag was painted on its tail.

Damian Camp, chief executive of Pacific Aerospace, says the aircraft was sold to a Chinese company in 2015 and operates under China's civil aviation register.

After seeing media reports about it being at the air show, he made inquiries and found it was still owned by the company, which is involved in tourism.

"They're doing a bit of flying in North Korea, evidently," he told RNZ on Wednesday.

"It's been doing general tourism operations, it hasn't been onsold to a North Korean company, it's still registered in China and there's no way for it to be illegally operating in North Korea."

He says the North Korean flag was put on the aircraft's tail for effect "and it's certainly got that".

It will be removed when the aircraft returns to normal operations.

Mr Camp likens the aircraft to a Toyota Hilux and says it has no military capability.

New Zealand has sanctions in place against North Korea under UN mandate, and can't trade directly or indirectly with that country.

Prime Minister John Key said on Tuesday he had asked MFAT officials to investigate the aircraft's presence at the air show.

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