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Going from earthworks contractor to helicopter maker may seem an unlikely career change – but that’s what Dick Sybrandy has done.

The former excavation specialist says his 10-month-old company, Taranaki-based Ultrasport Helicopters NZ, is about to gain Civil Aviation Authority approval to sell its mostly New Zealand-made choppers.

Sybrandy said three helicopters had been built by his firm so far and Europeans had put up deposits for two of them.

Sybrandy said each machine needed 40 hours of test flying to be certified and he expected this to be completed within three weeks.

The helicopters will sell for about $180,000 – about half the price of a Robinson R22, he says.

Sybrandy says the firm’s two-seater aircraft have a ceiling of 10,000ft and can reach speeds of almost 170km/h.

Nearly 80 per cent of the manufacturing was done here, he said, and 14 local companies were involved in the process. – For more go to the NZHerald

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