29 November 2013

The Aztecs of Sunair


The Aztecs of Central America were known their worship of the sun. In New Zealand Aztecs have been flying under the banner of the sun as Sunair for over 20 years. The six-seater Piper Aztecs have been used by a surprising number of airlines over the years flying some odd sort of routes. Their small size and yet large cabin have made them a versatile aircraft on lean routes.

Today Sunair operate ten Piper Pa23 Aztecs throughout the North Island on scheduled passenger and courier flights and on charter work. At present their scheduled shows flights to Whangarei, Whitianga, Great Barrier Island, Hamilton, Tauranga and Gisborne. Previously Sunair has operated flights to Auckland (both the International) and Ardmore, Rotorua, Whakatane, Kerikeri, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Paraparaumu. They also have an Aztec on lease in Kiribati. 

A full history of Sunair can be found here : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2011/02/sunair-still-shining-25-years-on.html

This post updates my earlier post about Sunair's Aztec fleet...

ZK-DGS has been used on a number of scheduled airline services. Nationwide Aviation (NP) Ltd operated it between New Plymouth and Auckland, Air Direct operated on flights between Wellington and Blenheim and Wellington and Kaikoura, Pine Air on flights between Tokoroa and Auckland and Air Freight on courier flights from Palmerston North. Sunair acquired it in 2001. It is seen here at Gisborne on 25 November 2011.

Sunair's first Aztec, ZK-DIR. Imported from Australia in 1993 it first flew in New Zealand for Air Direct. In 1995 it was sold to Sunair and was used to inaugurate Sunair's flight between Tauranga and Napier on 5 February 1996. The aircraft was offered for sale in October 2017 after the CAA grounding. It is photographed above at Timaru on 1 October 1995 and below at Gisborne on 14 April 2009. It was removed from the fleet in October 2017 and was offered for sale but no buyer was found. It remains registered to Sunair.

Piper Pa23-250 Aztec F ZK-ECM (c/n 27-8154001) was added to the Sunair fleet in December 2012.
Photo taken at Tauranga on 14 April 2017.

ZK-ERM was first used on scheduled air services with Associated Air. the company began scheduled services from Paraparaumu to Auckland in 1982 and the following year commenced services from Paraparaumu to Nelson and Paraparaumu to Christchurch. ERM was used primarily on these routes. In 1984 ERM was used to establish Motueka Air Services, a subsidary of Associated Air to inaugurate flights between Motueka and Wellington. After use by various other companies ERM was returned to 'airline' work when it was purchased by Sunair in 2001. It is photographed above at Tauranga on the 23rd of January 2002 and below at Whakatane on the 6th of November 2015.

Prior to flying for Sunair ZK-EVP was no stranger to flights the East Coast. Based in Wairoa with Cookson Air it flew their services to Auckland, Napier and Gisborne. Later Air Freight used it on courier flights to Napier and Gisborne. It is seen above at Napier on 15 April 2009 and below at Gisborne 25 November 2011.

ZK-FHO came to Sunair from Takaka Valley Air Services. Previously it had also flown for Air Direct. It was also briefly registered to Flightcorp of Nelson. It was registered to Sunair on the 30th of January 2002. On the 17th of May 2010 FHO suffered a nose wheel failure at Napier after a courier flight from Paraparaumu and it was ultimately cancelled from the register on the 27th of July 2010.

Piper Pa23-250 Aztec ZK-FVP (c/n 27-7854096) was first registered to a Whitianga-based owner in June 2011 before being registered to Sunair on the 1st of August 2012. It is seen at Hamilton on the 11th of November 2016

Piper Pa23-250 Aztec ZK-MTY was registered on 21 April 2009 after having arrived from Australia. It is seen here at Hamilton on 15 January 2010.

Reflecting its previous owner, Mountain Air, ZK-PIW was taken at Hamilton on 23 November 2011. Mountain Air used PIW on their scenic flights from the Chateau and the air service from there to Auckland and from Auckland to Great Barrier Island. It was purchased by Sunair in late 2008.  It was retired from the fleet in January 2020

ZK-PIX was first used by Air Nelson on its Motueka-Wellington service before being purchased by Mountain Air. It was sold to Sunair in late 2008 and is seen here at Tauranga taxiing for departure to Great Barrier Island on 18  November 2016.

ZK-TDM was imported from Australia in 2003 and has been used by Sunair since that time. It is seen here at Tauranga on 18 November 2016.

The most recent Aztec added to Sunair's fleet is ZK-WDP added to the fleet in September 2014. Its registration reflects the owner of Sunair, (William) Dan Power. In 2015 it went to Kiribati where it is on lease to Coral Sun Airways. Photo taken at Tauranga on 5 January 2015. 

1 comment:

  1. Ian Gray was the initial importer for ZK-ECM, not Air National. ECM was never used in commercial service for Air National, only in a private capacity.