The NZ$27million contract to support the upgrade of the P3 Orion aircraft fleet was signed today between giant U.S. firm L-3 Communications Integrated Systems and Safe Air Limited.

The sub-contract for the P-3 Orion was awarded only days after Safe Air announced it had won a sub-contract with L-3 Communications Spar Aerospace to support the upgrade of the RNZAF C-130 Hercules aircraft fleet.

“The combined value of the two Safe Air contracts is close to $NZ52million which is brilliant for Safe Air and for the region” said Jeremy Remacha, General Manager Safe Air.

“We are delighted to have secured this major defence contract,” Mr Remacha said today.

“Most of the modifications will be undertaken at Safe Air facilities over a period of five years. This will create some additional jobs at Safe Air throughout the various stages of the upgrades”, said Mr Remacha.

The first P-3 Orion aircraft life extension upgrade will be undertaken at L3’s facilities in Greenville, Texas. The other five aircraft will be upgraded at Safe Air.

The upgrade to the Orion aircraft includes a Mission Systems upgrade and a Communications and Navigation Systems upgrade.

Safe Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air New Zealand, was named as the preferred New Zealand sub-contractor when the Government signed the contract with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems to upgrade the P-3 Orion aircraft fleet in October 2004.

The P-3 Orions undertake surveillance of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, provide surveillance assistance to Pacific Island countries, and conduct search and rescue operations. They also contribute to regional and global security and were deployed last year to the Arabian Sea in support of the international campaign against terrorism.


For more information please contact:

Rosie Paul Air New Zealand Public Affairs
PH +64 9 336 3864
Mob: 021 280 3187




L-3 Communications Integrated Systems (L-3/IS) was contracted by the New Zealand Government in October 2004 to deliver the upgraded P3 Orion fleet.

The first, prototype, aircraft will be modified at L-3/IS facilities, in Greenville, Texas. Safe Air will undertake the modifications to the remaining five aircraft at its facilities in Blenheim.

The scope of the project involves the installation of upgraded mission systems, communication and navigation systems. The mission systems upgrade includes the installation of an imaging radar, electronic sensor equipment and mission management systems.

What work will Safe Air undertake under this sub-contract?

  • Modify five aircraft to accept the new installations.
  • Manufacture of five sets of electrical wire harness assemblies and modification installation kits.
  • Install the new systems.
  • Test the aircraft.
  • Update the operational and technical publications.
  • Train RNZAF technicians.
  • Install the new systems into the RNZAF’s ground support centre.

Why upgrade the P-3 Orion aircraft?

The upgrade will replace obsolete equipment to enable the Orions to undertake a wide range of civilian and military surveillance tasks. It will also ensure interoperability with New Zealand’s allies and security partners.
Upgrading the P-3 Orions is essential to comply with future air traffic regulations. This is the second stage of the P3 Orion life extension programme. The first stage involved replacing critical structural components which was completed in 2001.

What will the upgrade cost?

The cost to upgrade the P-3 Orion fleet is $352 million.

What is the value of Safe Air’s work?

$NZ 24 million.

When will L3 IS deliver the first P3 aircraft?

Scheduled for 2008

When will the last P3 aircraft be delivered?

Scheduled for 2010


Safe Air Ltd, based in Blenheim, New Zealand has over fifty years experience in aircraft engineering and are recognized leaders in the field of maintenance and support of military and civil aircraft. Safe Air has customers throughout the world.

Safe Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air New Zealand, operates as a separate company with its own Management and Board of Directors. It has 350 staff.

Safe Air also owns AirProp Services, a propeller overhaul facility at based in Victoria, Australia.

NOTE: The content of all Air New Zealand media releases are accurate at the time of issue, as stated at the top of each release. For updates on any changes, please contact Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.

For more information about Air New Zealand visit and for more information about Star Alliance visit