17 March 2015
Technical issues have meant both RNZAF flights to Vanuatu today returned to Base Auckland at Whenuapai without reaching Vanuatu.
Head of Air Force operations Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Kevin McEvoy said unrelated instrumentation problems occurred on both the C-130 Hercules and Boeing 757 aircraft in flight within a short period late this morning. Safety protocols required that the aircraft return to base and both had landed safely by 2pm.
“Naturally we’re very disappointed that we can’t continue rendering assistance today,” he said. “However, the aid on board will be delivered as soon as possible.”
AIRCDRE McEvoy said that because operations at Port Vila airport are currently limited to daytime only, it would not be possible to repair either aircraft to set out again today but the Air Force is working towards rescheduling flights.
Since Tropical Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu at the weekend, the Air Force has made three successful return flights, delivering 70,000 pounds of relief supplies and 42 specialist personnel from government agencies, the Red Cross and other non-government organisations. Additionally, a surveillance flight was able to assess Tuvalu for damage on Saturday. Eighty-two New Zealanders that had approached MFAT for assistance were brought home by C-130 Hercules yesterday.
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