How A New Zealand Plane With American Parts Found Its Way Into North Korea

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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A plane made in New Zealand with American parts made an appearance during North Korea’s first air show last week, reports the New Zealand Herald.

A white, single-engine, 10-seater P-750 XSTOL with a North Korean flag painted on the tail was among the many aircraft displayed at the Wonsan International Friendship Air Festival.

The plane was produced by Pacific Aerospace in Hamilton, New Zealand and made from components produced by American companies such as Honeywell, Garmin, Hartzell, and Pratt & Whitney.

Pacific Aerospace sold the aircraft, with the assistance of the Beijing General Aviation Company, to Free Sky Aviation. Damian Camp, Pacific Aerospace’s chief executive, told the Washington Post that he had no idea how one of their planes ended up in the reclusive North Korea.

The plane is registered with Chinese civil aviation authorities, and Pacific Aerospace was told that the plane was for tourism purposes. Camp said that there was “no formal link” with the North Korean military.

Pacific Aerospace revealed that it agreed to sell five P-750s to the Chinese government’s sports agency for $13 million.

The aircraft’s appearance at the Wonsan air show suggests that Chinese entities may still be violating international sanctions and resolutions restricting trade activities with North Korea.

After North Korea conducted a nuclear test in 2006, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) banned sales of “dual-use” materials. Following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test earlier this year, the UNSC issued a resolution prohibiting the “sale or supply” of aircraft and aircraft fuel to North Korea. That a P-750 made it into North Korea indicates that some entity attempted to skirt those sanctions and resolutions.

The P-750 can take off and land on short runways of only 800 feet, handle rough terrain, and carry a load of 4,000 lbs. This aircraft has the ability to serve skydivers, which means that it could also serve paratroopers for the Korean military.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is investigating how the plane made it into North Korea.

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