Far North Holdings Limited (FNHL) congratulates Merlin Labs NZ Limited on the May 26 official opening of their new aircraft hangar facility at the Bay of Islands Airport, Kerikeri.

Mana whenua Ngāti Rehia welcomed guests with a pōwhiri to mark the special occasion, with some people travelling from as far away as America to attend.

Bay of Islands (BOI) Airport has been working with Merlin Labs NZ – the first overseas subsidiary of US aviation technology firm Merlin Labs – to ensure their operations are safely and seamlessly integrated with ongoing airport operations.

As the leading developer of safe, autonomous flight technology for fixed-wing aircraft, Merlin Labs.

NZ has the only take off-to-touchdown advanced automation system to achieve Stage of Involvement (SOI) 1 Milestone with the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.

This achievement gave Merlin Labs NZ the greenlight for the development of its flight control software and laid the groundwork for the Merlin Pilot to be the first advanced automation system validated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Merlin Labs NZ Chief Executive Shaun Johnson grew up in Northland and said he was incredibly passionate about his home region and developing opportunities young people and the wider community.

He said the primary focus for the facility was the advanced development of Merlin technology and certification activities.

“When possible, this facility will also be available to support broader New Zealand aerospace activities, including a recent New Zealand Defence Force parachute training school deployment to the region,” Johnson said.

“Additionally, Merlin’s first test aircraft were deployed in recent months to assist in the regional flood relief efforts, showcasing Merlin’s commitment to supporting the community in which it works while simultaneously advancing its technical capabilities.”

The Merlin Labs NZ facility at the BOI Airport includes an aircraft hangar, maintenance workshops, and office space.

Johnson said having operations based in the Bay of Islands was fantastic from an air space perspective as the traffic wasn’t too busy.

“Coupled with the fact that BOI Airport is only an hour from Auckland, this gives Merlin a practical advantage in being based in the Far North.”

FNHL Chief Executive Andy Nock said Merlin Labs NZ decision to work out of the BOI Airport had already resulted in the creation of aeronautical engineering new jobs.

Mr Nock said their presence at the airport also meant the potential for exciting future skills training and employment opportunities for Far North rangatahi/young people.

“Having world leading aviation operators such as Merlin Labs NZ choosing BOI Airport is a great example of an aviation-based business recognising the competitive advantages available from establishing themselves at our airport.

Far North Holdings Limited owns and operates the Bay of Islands Airport and is engaged by the Far North District Council to provide airport management services on their behalf at Kaitaia Airport and Kaikohe Aerodrome.