Twenty-one New Zealand planes - which are used globally for skydiving and scenic flights - have been banned from flying out of fear they may not be safe.

Today Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) director Graeme Harris suspended the airworthiness certificates of all 21 Gippsland GA8 Airvan aircraft currently operating in New Zealand saying he had "sufficient concerns about the safety of these aircraft".

It's a direct response to the crash that killed nine people when a GA8 Airvan plane carrying them for a parachute jump crashed in northern Sweden soon after taking off.

Harris told the Herald until more was known about the cause of the Sweden crash the suspension would remain in place.


"We do not take these steps lightly but when there is a reasonable doubt about the safety of an aircraft, the flying public, operators and pilots of the affected aircraft in New Zealand must be satisfied that the CAA will act with their safety as a priority.

"While I regret any inconvenience this grounding will cause and acknowledge its significant commercial impact; I simply cannot compromise when I have information that indicates any unacceptable risk," he said.

Harris said he had been in contact with his Australian counterpart at CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) as the GA8 was Australian manufactured and they were the designated state of design and manufacture.

"I understand that CASA has sent a technical specialist to Sweden to gain first hand insight into the progress of the crash investigation.

"Based on information coming out of the initial investigation into the crash it appears the aeroplane, at 4000 meters altitude, suffered structural failure, but, at this time, the root cause of the accident cannot be confirmed," Harris said.

The grounding of the New Zealand planes is effective immediately and will be reviewed as further information becomes available from Sweden and Australia.