For the small company, which at that time not aligned with Air New Zealand, it was a brave step and a huge investment... to the extent of some $ 1.4 million dollars. The booklet marking Eagle Air's first 25 years writes of this, "The Bandeirante was a huge investment and simplu had to be kept in service to pay its way. That plane never let the company down - it was in the air every day for its first year, allowing the company to cross an economic threshold and everyone could breathe a sigh of relief."
Eagle Air's second and very smart coloour scheme which was applied to ZK-ERU, as seen at Palmerston North on the 18th of May 1985, and to Bandeirante ZK-FHX as well as their, at that stage, four Piper Chieftains. One of these, the original Chieftain, ZK-EIE, was the only one to carry the original Eagle logo. Photos : S Lowe
In my opinion this is the ugliest of Eagle Air's colour schemes... Just too bland! Taken at Hamilton on 5 February 1988. Photo : B Gavin
The aircraft was finally withdrawn from service on the 29th of June 2001 and the registration was cancelled on the 1st of August 2001. At time of its withdrawal from use the aircraft had amassed 37,000.3 airframe hours and 61,087 cycles. It was sold to Tauwhare Military Museum near Cambridge which is owned by Andy Moreland.
Given this is New Zealand's first turbo-prop commuter airliner I hope that is one that will always be preserved... and wouldn't it be nice to see it in the original Eagle Air colours again!
ERU's final "scheme" - a white tail... Darryn Morgan suggests that this was the result of major work on the tailplane - it may have been corrosion on the vertical spar, and given it was only planned to be in service for a short time, they never repainted it fully. . Taken at Wellington on 14 October 1999. Photo : S Lowe