On the Chatham Island application the Civil Aviation Division again refused operational approval for the Cessna 404s to use Moreroa and Pitt Island as stopping points. From the Ministry of Transport perspective there was serious concern expressed about the impact the proposed service would have on Safe Air’s loss-making Bristol Freighter service. At the time of Titan Air Service’s application Safe Air were losing over $100,000 per annum on their Chatham flights.
|Ill-fated Cessna 404 Titan ZK-TAS at Ardmore on 23 April 1987. Notice the Titan Air Services logo on the engine cowls|
On the night of the 8th of August 1977 Vic Donnelly was flying ZK-TAS on a courier flight from Auckland to Christchurch via Wellington. As he began his descent into Christchurch on the second sector he reported handling problems before declaring a mayday and reporting an engine shut down and engine fires. The aircraft crashed in the sea. With no wreckage to investigate the official accident report gave possible causes as disorientation in cloud while trying to deal with an emergency, loss of control because of airframe ice build-up, structural failure with a severe fire in the engine bay, an explosion in hazardous cargo, a failure of the flying control system or possible criminal mischief.
While the accident was a severe blow the service continued. A second Cessna 404 Titan, ZK-TAT (c/n 404-0067), was registered in New Zealand on the 26th of August 1977 and registered to the Dalhoff and King Flying School Ltd to operate the Courier System contract for Titan Air Services on the 8th of September 1977. In addition to the Titans, Cessna 402s ZK-DSB, DSG and EHT were also used at various times either as a replacement for ZK-TAS or backup for ZK-TAT. A service from Invercargill and Dunedin to Christchurch was added in October 1977. This extension used Akarana Air's Invercargill-based Aerostar 600. The service ended at the end of September 1978 when Courier Systems terminated the contract.
|The second Cessna 404 Titan ZK-TAT at Wigram for the 50th Anniversary Airshow of Charles Kingsford-Smith's first Tasman crossing in September 1978.|
Meanwhile, a month earlier on the 7th of August 1978, the Package Express Company had commenced a similar service using the Titan. This operation lasted until the
The Titans were also used by Rex Air Charter, which was the air charter division of the Dalhoff and King Flying School. When the Titan was unavailable Cessna 402B ZK-DSB owned by Temperazone (NZ) Ltd, was usually used.
By April 1979 Titan Air Services had been placed in receivership by fuel suppliers BP and was wound up. Cessna Titan ZK-TAT was then used by Air Central Ltd until late 1979 when it was purchased by James Aviation and used by their Jamesair third level airline.
Ken Green (who flew the last service on
Rob Palmer (who helped get Titan Air Services Ltd established)
ZK-DSB Cessna 402B (402-0585) hired from Temperazone (NZ) Ltd
ZK-DSG Cessna 402B (402-0559) used for a time after the loss of ZK-TAS
ZK-EHT Cessna 402B (402-0340) also used as a temporary replacement for
ZK-TAS Cessna 404 Titan II (404-0067)
ZK-TAT Cessna 404 Titan (404-0080)
AHSNZ Newsletter May/June 1979. Pages 35 and 36
AHSNZ Newsletter August 1979. Page 60
NZ Wings May, August, November 1977 issues
Ministry of Transport and Air Services Licencing Authority files
Compiled by F B Gavin and added to by S Lowe