Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Pair of Pacific Helicopters Ltd (PNG) Eurocopter / Aerospatiale AS350B2 Squirrel Helicopters P2-PHK & P2-PHY Pass Through CQ Airports

A nice pair of bright and colourful helicopters passed through Central Queensland heading South over the course of Saturday 8 December and Sunday 9 December.

The two helicopters were identified as Pacific Helicopters Ltd of Papua New Guinea (PNG) Eurocopter / Aerospatiale AS350B2 Squirrel helicopters P2-PHK and P2-PHY.

Both helicopters were noted arriving the Whitsunday Airport at Shute Harbour late on Saturday where they spent the night.  They were photographed (above) early on Sunday 9 December before they later departed to Rockhampton Airport.  After taking on fuel, both Squirrel helicopters then departed to Bundaberg Airport before continuing further South.

All photos taken by Lee Holloway  ©

Friday, December 7, 2018

Jetstar Airways Airbus A320 VH-XJE Finally Calls into CQ at Mackay and Proserpine Airports

On Friday 7 December, Jetstar Airways Airbus A320 VH-XJE finally made its first visit into a Central Queensland Airport, arriving into Mackay Airport as JST886 from Brisbane.  It later returned to the capital as JST887.  VH-XJE then operated the JST830/833 evening service into Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) Airport also from and back to Brisbane.

VH-XJE was registered to the airline and entered service in April 2018 – when I photographed it above in Sydney on its first day of service.

VH-XJE has had an interesting history, previously operating in Australia also with Jetstar Airways but as VH-JQW.

The A320 initially rolled off the production line in 2005 and was due to be delivered to Jetstar Asia.  It wasn’t taken up however, and ended up operating at in Turkey with Atlas International (Atlas Jet) as TC-OGO before then being sub-leased to Saudi Arabian Airlines in 2007.  After a short time operating in Saudi Arabia, the A320 was then delivered to Jetstar Airways, being delivered and later entering service in Australia in December 2007. 

VH-JQW in hybrid Saudi Arabian Airlines colours  (File photo)

It was re-painted into Jetstar titles and colours at RAAF Base Richmond in early 2008 and was eventually withdrawn from service in Australia in June 2010.

VH-JQW in full Jetstar Airways livery in 2008  (File photo)

The A320 was then placed onto the Singapore Aircraft Register as 9V-JSE and operated for Jetstar Asia from July 2010 until early 2018 when it was cancelled from the Singapore Aircraft Register and entered on the Australia Aircraft Register once again but as VH-XJE.


Vanguard Aviation Cessna 525 CitationJet1 Bizjet VH-DAA Pops into Gladstone and Hamilton Island Airports - Plus More!

On Friday 7 December, Vanguard Aviation Cessna 525 CitationJet1 bizjet VH-DAA was noted visiting Gladstone Airport.  It arrived from its Archerfield base.

File photo

After a short time on the ground, VH-DAA continued to Hamilton Island Airport where it appears to be spending at least the night.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Police Service (Airwing) (State of Queensland) Cessna 560 Citation Ultra bizjet VH-PSU was back in CQ also on Friday 7 December, calling into Mackay Airport twice and Rockhampton Airport during another busy day of flying which started and finished at Cairns.

Finally, slightly smaller corporate turboprop aircraft noted visiting CQ Airport in the last couple of days included SOCATA TBM 700 N700BK which called into both Emerald and Moura Airports on Friday 7 December while flying from Alice Springs to its Archerfield base.  N700BK has been noted flying out to and back from Alice Springs quite a bit over the last couple of week.

While on Thursday 6 December, Cloncurry-based Pilatus PC-12/47E VH-MDH visited Rockhampton Airport, arriving from Devoncourt via Hughenden.  It then returned over the same route before later heading to Archerfield.

Photo taken by Lloyd Fox  ©

Thursday, December 6, 2018

FlyPelican (Pelican Airlines) BAe J32s VH-NTL & VH-OTQ at Bundaberg Airport – Plus Alliance Airlines and QantasLink Charters – Take Firefighters Home Following Bushfire Crisis

A couple of nice first-time visitors to Central Queensland on Thursday 6 December with a pair of FlyPelican (Pelican Airlines) British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 3206 (Jetstream 32) turboprop aircraft VH-NTL and VH-OTQ both photographed on the ground at Bundaberg Airport operating closed charter flights to transport visiting interstate firefighters home to Northern New South Wales.  The firefighters have been in Central Queensland assisting local firefighters during the recent bushfire crisis.

VH-NTL arrived into Bundaberg Airport from RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle via the Ballina / Byron Bay Gateway Airport as PE997.  It then returned to Williamtown again via Ballina again as PE997.

VH-OTQ also arrived into Bundy also from Williamtown but via Coffs Harbour as PE998.  It then returned to Williamtown also flying via Ballina again as PE998.

Of interest, Fly Pelican (Pelican Airlines) is an Australian regional airline based at Newcastle in New South Wales.  The airline was formed in 2015 by former staff and using former aircraft of Aeropelican Air Services which was also based at Newcastle and was formed in 1968.  The airline was also associated with Ansett Australia Airlines.

Meanwhile, also at Bundaberg Airport also on Thursday 6 December, a number of additional QantasLink Dash-8 aircraft were noted visiting, also to transport firefighters home to New South Wales.

QantasLink Dash-8-Q300 VH-TQE flew into Bundy from Sydney as QLK2710 before departing to Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie as QLK2297.

QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 VH-LQM also flew into Bundy from Sydney but as QLK2712.  It then departed back to Sydney but as QLK2295.

And QantasLink Dash-8-Q300 VH-SCE flew into Bundy from Brisbane as QLK2678.  It then departed to Armidale and Sydney as QLK2793/2713.

Up the road at Gladstone Airport, a pair of Alliance Airlines Fokker jets were also noted visiting to fly New South Wales firefighters home.

Fokker F-100 VH-UQA flew in from Brisbane as UTY560 before it then departed to Canberra as UTY561.  VH-UQA then returned to Brisbane as UTY562.

While Fokker F-70 VH-JFE also flew in from Brisbane but as UTY564 before it departed to Dubbo and then Wagga Wagga as UTY565.  VH-JFE then returned to Brisbane as UTY566.

Sincere thanks Isaac S at Bundaberg Airport for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos!

All photos taken by Isaac S  ©

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Welcome Storms and Rain Late Tuesday - Bushfire Crisis Seemingly Over - Water-Bombing Aircraft and Helicopters Head Home!

Welcome rain and storms passed through most of Queensland late on Tuesday 4 December and as a result, it would appear that the immediate bushfire crisis that was affecting parts of Central Queensland seems to have come to an end.  As a result, over the course of Wednesday 5 December, most of the visiting firefighting aircraft and helicopters, along with the many local and visiting firefighters, have begun to return to their home bases.

Alliance Airlines Fokker F-70 VH-NKQ was spotted visiting Mackay Airport.  It arrived from Brisbane as UTY561 and departed back there a short time later as UTY562.

It reportedly transported visiting firefighters home from Mackay.

The large water-bombing aircraft that have been based at Rockhampton Airport looked to depart back to their bases in New South Wales.  The Conair Aviation (Canada) British Aerospace BAe 146 / Avro RJ-85 C-GVFT "Bomber 166" completed one final water-bombing run to Curtis Island before departing to Dubbo.  It completed one shortly before the storm hit late on Tuesday.

While the Coulson Aviation (USA) Boeing B737-300 Large Air Tanker 'Fireliner' N137CG "Bomber 137" departed Rocky direct to RAAF Base Richmond.  It is pictured below at Mackay Airport over the weekend.

It was joined by Victorian-based Agair Logistics P/L Gulfstream American Corporation 695A Jetprop Commander 1000 VH-HPY "Birddog 275" which also departed Rockhampton Airport for the Curtis Island fire before it too went to Richmond.

Of interest, Kennedy Aviation North American Rockwell 500S VH-XAS as "Birddog 444" continues to operate out of Gladstone Airport and was noted flying North to Mackay and back also on Wednesday 5 December.

After arriving into Gladstone Airport earlier in the week (as shown below), the smaller fixed-wind water-bombing aircraft - Rockhampton-based R-Mach Aviation Ayres S2R Turbine Thrush VH-NFF "Bomber 407" and PZL Warszawa-Okecie M-18B Dromader VH-MDR "Bomber 402", along with Emerald-based Central Highlands Aerial Services (CHAS) Thrush S2R-T660 aircraft VH-PMD "Bomber 434" and VH-KCS "Bomber 435" all arrived into Rockhampton Airport.

VH-PMD and VH-KCS later departed to their Emerald landing site.

Of the visiting helicopters that assisted with the firefighting efforts, the visiting New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) Aerospatiale AS.350B2 Squirrel helicopter VH-NFO "Firebird 200" departed Rockhampton Airport for the Sunshine Coast.  It did runs to Curtis Island on Tuesday 4 December.

While Stirling Helicopters (Stirling Consolidated) / Eagle Copters Leasing Bell Helicopter Textron Canada 407 helicopter VH-IBF as "Firebird 423" initially operated from Rocky on a fire inspection flight before it later departed on a powerline inspection flight.  It was joined by fellow Stirling Helicopters Bell 206 helicopters VH-JMM and VH-JAQ and Heli-Central (Emerald) Aerospatiale AS.350B2 Squirrel VH-ZHM which all flew powerline inspection flights following the storms.

Photos taken by Isaac S, 'JM', The FNQ Skies Blog and Michael Fleetwood  ©

Silver Linings Aviation Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign Bizjet VH-ZEK Arrives at Hamilton Island Airport

On Wednesday 5 December, Silver Linings Aviation Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign bizjet VH-ZEK was noted arriving into Hamilton Island Airport from Bankstown.

File photo

At the time of writing, the sleek Citation appears to be staying on Hamo for at least the night.

Meanwhile, also on Wednesday 5 December, the Queensland Police Service (Airwing) (State of Queensland) Cessna 560 Citation Ultra bizjet VH-PSU was back in CQ, visiting Rockhampton Airport during a busy day of flying out of and back to Cairns.  It was due to also call into Mackay Airport but diverted for reasons unknown.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Air Affairs Australia / Gojet Gates LearJet 35A and Beech B200 King Air Firescan Aircraft Head Home from Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast) Airport

On Monday 3 December, the two remaining Air Affairs Australia / Gojet operated Firescan aircraft were noted departing back to their 'home' at HMAS Albatross at Nowra in New South Wales after spending the last few days operating sorties from Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast) Airport.

LearJet 35A VH-LPJ "Firescan 124" arrives at Rockhampton Airport  (File photo)

Gates LearJet 35A VH-LPJ "Firescan 124" looked to depart early on Monday and was bound for Nowra before diverting to Tamworth.  It later returned to Central Queensland overflying parts back up towards Hervey Bay before it then returned to Tamworth.

Beech B200 King Air VH-LAB "Firescan 125" also departed Hervey Bay and completed a sortie around Central Queensland before it eventually headed to Nowra.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday 4 December, a different Air Affairs Australia / Gojet Firescan aircraft in the form of Gates LearJet 35A VH-LRX as "Firescan 122" was noted flying up from Nowra to the Sunshine Coast.  It then completed a sortie from and back to the Sunny Coast, flying over fire-zone in parts of the Wide Bay and Central Queensland.

Photo taken by Russell Prothero  ©

Holypeak Pty Ltd Canadair Challenger 604 Bizjet N360SL Pops into Mackay Airport

On Tuesday 4 December, Holypeak Pty Ltd Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 604 bizjet N360SL was photographed on the ground at Mackay Airport.

The smart little Challenger looked to arrive from Townsville after arriving there the previous day from its Melbourne (Essendon) base.

N360SL appeared to later depart to the Sunshine Coast.

Meanwhile, as mentioned below, up the road at Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) Airport, on Monday 3 December, American-registered Hawker Beechcraft 900XP bizjet N881JC was noted departing to Darwin and Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport, Jakarta, Indonesia.  N881JC had arrived at Prosie over that route Friday 30 December.

Photo taken by Matt Midgley  ©

Monday, December 3, 2018

Nautius Aviation Bell 412 Helicopter VH-ZVP in Westpac Lifesaving Colours Calls into CQ Airports - Plus Yet More Photos of Water-Bombing Aircraft and Helicopters

On Monday 3 December, Nautilus Aviation Bell Helicopter Textron Canada 412EP helicopter VH-ZVP was photographed at Mackay Airport.  It had earlier arrived from the Sunshine Coast via stops at Gladstone and Rockhampton Airports.

VH-ZVP still wears Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter titles having operated from their Sydney base over the previous few weeks.

VH-ZVP also has a water tank attached and appears to have joined the firefighting efforts in the region with it noted using the radio callsign of "Firebird 421".

Reports suggest that bushfires have sprung up around the Carmila area near to Mackay.  At one stage late on Monday 3 December, there were as many as five water-bombing helicopters noted on the ground at Mackay Airport – whether they remained there is uncertain.

Meanwhile, the smaller fixed-wind water-bombing aircraft which have been operating from Finch Hatton in recent days appear to have moved South with all four aircraft - Rockhampton-based R-Mach Aviation Ayres S2R Turbine Thrush VH-NFF "Bomber 407" and PZL Warszawa-Okecie M-18B Dromader VH-MDR "Bomber 402", along with Emerald-based Central Highlands Aerial Services (CHAS) Thrush S2R-T660 aircraft VH-PMD "Bomber 434" and VH-KCS "Bomber 435” all noted arriving into Gladstone Airport during the afternoon and evening.

Also noted flying South towards Gladstone were Stirling Helicopters (Stirling Consolidated) / Eagle Copters Leasing Bell Helicopter Textron Canada 407 helicopter VH-IBF as "Firebird 423" and the visiting New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) Aerospatiale AS.350B2 Squirrel helicopter VH-NFO "Firebird 200".

Photographed arriving back into Rockhampton Airport late on Monday 3 December was Touchdown Helicopters (Wollongong) OAS Parts (Bell) UH-1H Iroquois VH-OXI as "Helitack 229".

While also photographed at Rockhampton Airport after returning from yet another water-bombing run was the visiting Coulson Aviation (USA) Boeing B737-300 Large Air Tanker 'Fireliner' N137CG "Bomber 137".

It, and the Conair Aviation (Canada) British Aerospace BAe 146 / Avro RJ-85 C-GVFT "Bomber 166" continued to operate out of Rockhampton Airport, completing sorties towards Gladstone and Curtis Island during the afternoon and as the sun was setting.

Sincere thanks to the local plane spotters for their help in compiling the information and for allowing us to share these great photos contained in this post.  We offer our thoughts and prayers to those who are affected by this bushfire emergency and sincere thank those volunteer and other firefighters who are battling these fierce blazes up and down the Queensland coast.

Photos taken by 'AC' and Russell Prothero  ©