UPDATED: Friday 3.30pm
The RNZAF Hercules flights over Tauranga on Wednesday night were part of training which is conducted to improve the night vision capability of the C-130H Hercules crews, says a statement from Defence Public Affairs.
"These skills were most recently used following Tropical Cyclone Gita in Tonga, where aid flights were conducted in darkness into the damaged airfield at Fua’amotu International Airport," says Acting Commanding Officer of 40 Sqn, SQNLDR Blair Oldershaw.
"We acknowledge that the flights into Tauranga Airport after 9.30pm on Wednesday were not in accordance with the airport’s recommendations, and the squadron will be updating and amending procedures to ensure this won’t happen again."
Complaints about a large aircraft’s flying landing approach to Tauranga Airport at about 11pm on Wednesday night have been tracked to the RNZAF.
The Hercules was doing night training – in spite of a Tauranga airport restriction that they not do so after 9.30pm.
“I’ve spoken to the air force and said that’s not appreciated in a city of our size, that sort of disruption late at night, and that we don’t expect that to happen after 9.30pm which is our regulated time for finishing circuit training,” says Tauranga airport manager Ray Dumble.
“To be fair I think it was a bit of a misunderstanding about that timing thing.”
The Lockheed C130 aircraft is a four engine turbo prop military transport designed in the 1950s.
The RNZAF flies C130H models powered by Allison engines, with a crew of two pilots, one navigator, one flight engineer and two loadmasters.