Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Second Virgin Australia / Skywest Airlines ATR 72-500 Pops into Gladstone Airport and Bundaberg Airshow

The second Virgin Australia / Skywest Airlines ATR 72-500, VH-FVI, which was only delivered last week was noted flying into Gladstone Airport on Sunday 28 August.

Meanwhile, at the Wide Bay International Airshow at Bundaberg Airport last weekend, sistership ATR 72-500 VH-FVH was one of the star attractions.

A sleek little bizjet in the form of Embraer 500 Phenom 100 VH-PNM was also noted, along with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Roulettes who performed over the weekend before departing for Hamilton Island later during the weekend.

The RAAF also had a Beech 350 Super King Air on display, as well as a new Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet, which flew up from Amberley and then returned without landing / stopping at Bundaberg.

Finally, there were several warbirds and antique aircraft on show.

Of course with Bundaberg being an RPT destination for QantasLink (Sunstate Airlines), Dash-8-Q400 VH-QOV was noted departing for Brisbane during the Airshow.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Cessna Caravan Float Plane for Whitsundays

Whitsunday Air Services (Hamilton Island Air) took delivery of Cessna 208FP N1027V on Saturday 9 July.

It flew on delivery into Hamilton Island from the Gold Coast, and was later registered as VH-WTY on Thursday 18 July.

Various Business Jets Transit CQ Airports Recently

From the latest edition of Australian Aviation comes details of some recent business jet movements through various Central Queensland Airports.

Gulfstream G-V-SP (G-550) VP-CVI was noted departing Hamilton Island Airport for Cairns Airport and then Honolulu Airport in early April.

Also noted at Hamilton Island Airport was JP Morgan Chase Bank Gulfstream G-V (G-550) N605CH. It reportedly departed there for Cairns Airport and Hong Kong Airport in late June.

Gulfstream G-IVX (G-450) VP-CKD arrived in Mackay Airport from Singapore Seletar in early July. It later visited Proserpine Airport.

Also noted at Mackay Airport in early July was Malaysian based Cessna 550B Citation Bravo N550TM. It reportedly arrived from Cairns Airport and departed to Darwin Airport.

Lastly, MJets (Thailand) Cessna 750 Citation X HS-KCS was noted at various airports around Australia, including Gladstone Airport, in May and June.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gladstone Airport Information and Spotting Locations, as well as Terminal Redevelopment Pictures

Gladstone is a rapidly growing industrial city on the Central Queensland coast. The airport caters primarily for business and leisure travellers and freight activities associated with the region's developed and emerging industrial complexes. The Airport is located approximately 5km from the city centre and is well catered for by taxi services.

Regular public transport (RPT) services are currently provided by QantasLink (Sunstate Airlines) who provide approximately 50 Dash-8 operated flights per week between Gladstone and Brisbane, as well as 1-2 daily service along the coast connecting to Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns. From October 2011, Virgin Australia commenced almost daily flights between Gladstone and Brisbane, which are operated by Skywest Airlines using ATR 72-500 aircraft. There are 2-3 flights each weekday and on Sundays. Strategic Airlines operated to Gladstone from Brisbane with Airbus A320 aircraft, however they were forced to withdraw this service in August 2011.

Australian Helicopters is also a major operator at the Airport flying passengers to nearby Islands, as well as pilots and sailors to ships either moored or sailing off the coast. They have a major hangar and base near the General Aviation parking apron - which is East of the main Airport terminal as shown.

Spotting and photography is possible through the fences near the General Aviation apron - providing good views of visiting light aircraft and of the Australian Helicopters parking apron.

The Gladstone Airport terminal and runway and taxiways underwent a major redevelopment during 2010/2011. The main Airport runway (10/28) was lengthened and widened, and the exisiting Airport terminal was extensively overhauled with a new departure lounge and seating added, as well as the introduction of passenger security screening facilities. The opening of the Gladstone Airport's redeveloped runway and the renamed "Creed-Kanofski Airport Terminal Building" in April, marked a significant milestone in the growth and development of the Gladstone Region.

The Gladstone Airport terminal features two main aircraft parking aprons. An upper section which is predominately utilised by QantasLink, and a lower section which has been heavily overhauled and expanded for use by larger aircraft. Virgin Australia has been noted operating from this section of the Airport apron.

Strategic Airlines also parked their Airbus A320s at this part of the Airport - as shown below.

The Gladstone Airport Terminal is also effectively in two sections with the upper section featuring the check-in counters, car rental service desks, some general seating including a kiosk/bar, as well as the baggage collection carousel.

The Australian Helicopters check-in and lounge area is also in this section. From here passengers to the nearby Islands are walked to the Australian Helicopters hangar area which away from the terminal.

The lower section of the terminal features a new and improved and larger departure lounge which can only be accessed after passing a new security screening point. Spotting and photography is possible through the glass, giving nice views of the aircraft parked on the airport apron.

QantasLink is also currently constructing a QantasClub Lounge inside the terminal, with it expected to be open by October.

There are also views through the fencelines on the Eastern perimeter outside of the Airport terminal - although afternoon photos are backlit - as shown below.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Virgin Australia / Skywest Airlines ATR 72-500 Pops into Gladstone Airport Thursday

Virgin Australia / Skywest Airlines ATR 72-500 VH-FVH flew a route proving / training flight into Gladstone Airport on Thursday 25 August.

The ATR was noted flying from and back to Brisbane.

Coincidentally, Virgin Australia / Skywest Airlines took delivery of their second ATR 72-500 in Brisbane as well on Thursday 25 August, with the aircraft, registered VH-FVI, landing in Brisbane in the evening.

It is possible that both these ATR's will visit Gladstone Airport (and maybe other Central Queensland airports) over the next month or so, before Virgin Australia commences twice daily flights between Gladstone and Brisbane with their ATR's each weekday on Monday 17 October.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Korean Gulfstream Bizjet Pops Into Emerald Airport on Tuesday

LG Electronics Gulfstream G-V-SP (a Gulfstream G550), with Korean registration HL7799, reportedly flew from the Gold Coast to Emerald and back on Tuesday 23 August.

****With thanks to Steve V, we can provide a picture of this lovely bizjet on the ground at Emerald Airport!!

ABC News Helicopter Crashes in South Australia

Three members of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) news team have sadly died after their helicopter crashed near Lake Eyre in South Australia on Thursday 18 August.

The three staff – veteran journalist Paul Lockyer, cameraman John Bean and pilot Gary Ticehurst – were on board working on a story about Lake Eyre.

The helicopter involved has been identified as Aerospatiale AS.355F2 VH-NTV, which CQ Plane Spotting managed to photograph earlier this year at Clermont Aerodrome, as it flew up to North Queensland to assist in the reporting of the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Clermont Aerodrome Reopens Monday - and Some Interesting Robinson Helicopter Visitors

After being closed for around eight weeks, Clermont Aerodrome has reopened on Monday 22 August, with the first part of the multi-million dollar redevelopment complete.

Skytrans Dash-8 fly-in fly-out charters from and to Brisbane have resumed, finally easing some of the FIFO burden on Emerald Airport. Dash-8-100 VH-QQH was noted arriving at Clermont Aerodrome early Monday.

As shown in the photos above, the apron, taxiway, and runway works are complete.

A new terminal building is soon to be built, along with improved re-fueling facilities.

Later on Monday 20 August, two brightly-coloured Robinson R-44 helicopters were noted flying over Clermont, and landed at, of all places, the local Caravan Park. Pictured below are VH-TBX and VH-TBW, which are both owned and operated by Stocklick Trading of Mount Garnet.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mackay Airport Spottings from the Weekend

Adam P popped into Mackay Airport on Saturday 20 August and found a very busy Airport apron, with a QantasLink (Sunstate Airlines) Dash-8-400, a Jetstar Airbus A320 - VH-JQG which had broken down from earlier in the week, as well as two Virgin Australia Embraer E190 Jets - VH-ZPD and VH-ZPF.

He also managed a quick picture of the new "Virgin Australia Mackay Football Stadium" - see our Blog post HERE.

Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, arrived into Mackay to open the Stadium on Saturday 20 August. Adam P returned to the Airport and managed to take a couple of photos of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing B737-700BBJ A36-001, which arrived and departed later in the evening as "Envoy 16".

Incidentally, Virgin Australia has recently flown quite a number of their aircraft into Mackay that feature their new livery - perhaps to coincide with the stadium's opening.

As noted on Sunday 14 August, VH-YIA made its first visit.

Also, B737-800's VH-YFC visited on Wednesday 17 August, VH-YFF on Friday 19 August (possibly its first visit), and VH-YFE visited on Saturday 20 August (this aircraft is now painted in the new Virgin Australia livery).

Meanwhile Embraer E190 VH-ZPR visited Mackay Airport on Thursday 18 August and Friday 19 August. It is pictured below on a previous visit earlier this month.

We thank Adam P for his contribution!

Whitsunday Council to Focus on Fly-In Fly-Out at Whitsunday Coast / Proserpine Airport as Other Central Queensland Mayors Join The Fight to Ban FIFO

The soon-to-be-appointed Whitsunday Coast Airport manager will have a big job ahead of them to lift the profile of the tourism industry and boost the economy by dipping into the Western Australian mining sector, according to mayor Mike Brunker.

The position was announced by council recently during their budget discussions when they cut $200,000 from Tourism Whitsundays and Enterprise Whitsundays to create the role.

Cr Brunker said it was time to change the industry focus of the Airlie Beach economy so it didn’t have to rely solely on tourism. He said there was money to be made by investing in the mining industry which would boost tourism.

Cr Brunker said he wanted the Whitsunday Coast / Proserpine Airport to be capable of supporting a workforce where miners could live in our region and fly directly to mine sites in Western Australia.

In September, Cr Brunker will visit areas including Karratha and Port Headland in the Pilbara to see how the towns manage a Fly in Fly out community and other mining-related growth issues - both economically and socially.

He said he wanted the airport manager to be able to approach different coal companies and airlines to make this possible.

Meanwhile, several other Central Queensland mayors have united in the fight against 100% fly-in, fly-out workforces in the region’s mining industry.

Chairman of the Galilee and Bowen Basin Council of Mayors, Cr Brad Carter said full FIFO workforces would result in big losses for Central Queensland.

Recently, Cr Carter was among the region’s local government representatives who attended the Moranbah Action Group’s meeting against BMA’s application for a 100% FIFO workforce at its Caval Ridge Mine.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Two Men Die in Light Plane Crash Near Emerald Airport Wednesday

The wreckage of an ultralight aircraft that went missing while on a flight from Emerald Airport has been found by a rescue crew on Thursday 18 August in bushland off the Capricorn Highway, east of Emerald. Police have confirmed the two occupants are deceased.

The Mackay-based RACQ Central Queensland Rescue (CQ Rescue) helicopter joined the search for two men missing after the ultralight aircraft failed to return to Emerald Airport late Wednesday.

The RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter was one of several aircraft involved in the search. A Cairns-based fixed wing aircraft was also deployed to Emerald.

A well known business owner and aviation identity from Warwick was one of the victims. He had flown to Emerald on Wednesday morning and spent the day teaching another pilot – an Emerald local – how to fly an aircraft he was planning to buy.

The men are believed to have spent the day completing training sessions before setting off for their final pre-sale flight at around 3pm. They were reporting missing at 6pm.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Virgin Australia to Sponsor New Football Stadium in Mackay

Photo from Adam P in Mackay.

Text from: The Daily Mercury (Thursday 18 August)

Mackay's new football stadium has scored a big off-field victory with Virgin Australia announcing a three-year naming rights sponsorship of the venue.

The stadium will now be known as Virgin Australia Stadium Mackay, a name which will be used to lure state, national and international sporting and entertainment events to the precinct.

The stadium's chairman, Greg Sutherland, said yesterday's announcement was timely ahead of the venue's official opening tomorrow.

“It's big – it's the cream on the cake,” he said. “It gives us another level of credibility.”

Virgin Australia Stadium Mackay operations manager Clinton Begg said the sponsorship deal would help the stadium committee attract state and national sporting events, such as the NRL and A-League, to the stadium.

“The naming rights hold quite a significant amount of weight at corporate level,” he said.

“From a national level this puts Mackay in a different spot than Rockhampton or Townsville.”

Virgin signage has already been installed at the stadium at ground level, while there will also be an illuminated 7m by 7m Virgin Australia sign erected at the venue.

Virgin Australia group executive commercial Liz Savage said the airline was proud to have the airline's name on Mackay's newest sporting venue.

“We hope that Virgin Australia Stadium Mackay will host many national and international sporting and entertainment events, boosting the Mackay local tourism, hospitality and business sectors,” she said.

Mr Begg said it was always the intention of the stadium committee to secure a big name as naming rights sponsor and Virgin was quickly identified as a potential suitor.

“Our intention was always to get a multi-national branding on the stadium,” he said. “We knew they (Virgin) were doing (their own) re-branding and they're a reputable business and they're expanding into Mackay as well.”

Virgin representatives will be among the officials at Virgin Australia Stadium Mackay tomorrow night for the venue's official opening when the STM Mackay Cutters take on Easts Tigers.

Mr Sutherland said he was the first to get his tickets from the MECC for the game and was hopeful it would attract a sell-out crowd of 6000. Gates open at 12.30pm with the official stadium opening starting at 5.20pm. The game between the Cutters and Tigers kicks off at 6.30pm.

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Roulettes Aerobatic Display Team Perform Over Rockhampton Thursday

Ben O and Don W were on hand to capture pictures of a stunning performance by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) elite formation aerobatic display team - The Roulettes - over Rockhampton on Thursday 18 August.

The 15 minute performance featured six Pilatus PC-9/A turboprop training aircraft, as well as a commentary from the banks of the Fitzroy River in Rockhampton.

Later, Ben O popped into Rockhampton Airport where all seven PC-9/A aircraft plus a support helicopter were all parked in front of the Rockhampton Airport Control Tower at the Northern end of the Airport apron.

Ben O also noted a RAAF Lockheed C-130H Hercules transport aircraft - serial A97-005.

Later, and much to everyone's surprise, RAAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III, A41-209, conducted a missed approach onto Rockhampton's Runway 33. It used the callsign "Stallion 07".

Other movements included Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service (Jayrow Helicopters) Sikorsky S-76A VH-JRD which departed as "Rescue 300".