Sunday, March 31, 2013

Qantas and Emirates Partnership A380 Flyover Photos From Sydney

On Sunday 31 March, Qantas marked the official launch of its partnership with Emirates with a spectacular flyover of two A380s - one from each airline - over Sydney Harbour.

The two jets flew 1500 feet apart over Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and The Sydney Harbour Bridge.  It's believed to be the first time two A380s have flown in such a formation anywhere in the world.

Sydney plane spotter Bernie P (aka 'AussiePomm') captured the truly spectacular images seen in this Blog post. He posted these and more superb images from Sunday morning on his personal Flickr Photostream (

The Qantas and Emirates deal, described by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce as a "seismic shift in global aviation", means flights from Australia to Europe will now stop-over in Dubai.

On Sunday afternoon, the first re-routed QF1 flight departed Sydney for Dubai operated by A380 VH-OQJ, while the first QF9 service from Melbourne to Dubai was operated by A380 VH-OQI.

Qantas flights from Australia will no longer stop-over in Singapore as they did during Qantas's partnership with British Airways, which has come to an end after 18 years.

What an exciting day!  My sincere thanks to Bernie P for allowing me to share his truly spectacular photos!  They are some of the best captures of aircraft that I have ever seen!  I love 'em!!

Quite a Few Other Bizjets Around Central Queensland Airports Over the Last Week

As we've posted, the previous week of local bizjet action got off to a good start, with Queensland Government (State of Queensland) Raytheon Hawker 850XP VH-SGY touching down at Rockhampton Airport on Friday 22 March.  On Saturday 23 March, VH-SGY flew to Townsville.  On Sunday 24 March, VH-SGY returned to Rockhampton and later departed to Hervey Bay and the Sunshine Coast.

File photo taken by ‘IAD’  ©

Touching down at Rockhampton Airport on Tuesday 26 March was Australian Corporate Jet Centres / Mitchell Air Cessna 560 Citation Ultra VH-WFE.  VH-WFE arrived from Brisbane and later departed to Toowoomba.

File photo taken by ‘IAD’  ©

Also on Tuesday 26 March, J.M. Kelly (Project Builders) Cessna 550 Citation II VH-JMK operated an early morning return flight from Rockhampton to the Sunshine Coast.

Meanwhile, Earth Commodities Cessna 550 Citation Bravo VH-CCJ touched down at Gladstone, Mackay and Rockhampton on Monday 25 March. VH-CCJ evenutally ventured back to Gladstone where it departed on Tuesday 26 March for Brisbane.

File photo taken by Jamie C  ©

Another seemingly local bizjet - Raytheon 390 Premier 1 - N7088S - continues to operate flights out of Mackay Airport.  On Tuesday 26 March, N7088S was noted touching down at Mackay Airport from Brisbane.

File photo taken by Dave  ©

Sunshine Air Services Raytheon Hawker 800XP VH-VRC had a busy couple of days early in the week, operating three flights into Hamilton Island Airport in the space of two days.  On Sunday 24 March, VH-VRC arrived into Hamo from Melbourne (Essendon) and later departed to Brisbane.  On Monday 25 March, VH-VRC arrived back into Hamilton Island from Brisbane before operating a return flight from Hamo to Essendon later in the afternoon.  It seems as though VH-VRC is still on the ground at Hamilton Island.

Balmoral Air Dassault Falcon 2000EX VH-WIO arrived into Hamilton Island from Bankstown on Tuesday 26 March.  After overnighting, it departed back to Bankstown on Wednesday 27 March.

File photo taken by Jimi Ludriks  ©

Also on Wednesday 27 March, Flight Options (Australia) (Aeromil Pacific) Cessna 560 Citation Ultra VH-SJP departed Emerald for the Sunshine Coast.  It had arrived the previous day.

The Singapore Flying College Cessna 510 Citation Mustang training bizjets again visited Rockhampton and Mackay Airport this week, with VH-SQJ operating as "Raffles 143" on Thursday 28 March, while VH-SQY popped into both airports as "Raffles 142" on Friday 29 March.

The Queensland Police Service (Airwing) Cessna 560 Citation Ultra VH-PSU made another couple of visits to Central Queensland this week, touching down at Mackay Airport on Thursday 28 March, and then Rockhampton Airport on Friday 29 March.

Lastly, Jetstream Aviation's bright and colourful Cessna 550 Citation II VH-VDF arrived into Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport from the Sunshine Coast on Friday 29 March.

File photo taken by Jimi Ludriks  ©

Another busy week in Central Queensland for bizjets!  Thanks to the various spotters for sharing their photos and information!

An Update on Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) Charters at Moranbah Airport

It appears that the Virgin Australia (Skywest Airlines) ATR 72-operated Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) charter flights between Townsville and Moranbah that started about a year ago have ceased.  I've noticed over the last couple of weeks that QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 aircraft have been operating additional flights to Moranbah from Townsville in a similar pattern to the Virgin flights.  A Dash-8-Q400 arrives and departs one evening as QLK2591/2592 and again the next morning as QLK2589/2590.

QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 VH-QOM on the ground at Moranbah Airport recently

But any Moranbah-based plane spotters and enthusiasts are about to see a whole lot more of the Virgin ATR aircraft with scheduled services to Moranbah from Brisbane starting next week.

Virgin Australia (Skywest Airlines) ATR 72-500 VH-FVH on the ground at Moranbah Airport last year (file photo)

The first service is scheduled to touch down at Moranbah on Tuesday 2 April at 7.45am.  See you there!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Virgin Australia Cancels Direct Flights Between Rockhampton Airport and Sydney

News has surfaced recently that Virgin Australia will cease operating its direct flights between Rockhampton and Sydney.  The last direct service to Sydney is expected to depart Rockhampton on Sunday 28 April.

The writing has seemingly been on the wall for the direct Sydney flights from last year when Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti reportedly informed 130 business people at a local business leaders forum that the direct Sydney to Rockhampton route was not financially viable.  However, a considered decision was made to continue that route due to his belief in supporting regional Queensland and Australia.

Virgin Australia have been operating a midday direct daily service (except Tuesday and Saturday) from Sydney to Rockhampton operated by a mix of Boeing B737 and Embraer E-190 aircraft.

The main reason highlighted for the failure of the route was the timing of the midday direct Sydney to Rockhampton flight which is not considered to be conducive to corporate business travellers   Whilst the Monday and Friday direct services were heavily patronized, the remaining days ran at about 75% occupancy, which affects profitability in an already low yield environment.

The Sydney to Rockhampton services weren't the only flights to be cut by Virgin recently, with Canberra to Hobart flights also cut.

Photos taken by ‘IAD’ ©

Some Recent Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Photos and News from Rockhampton Airport

Rockhampton Airport plane spotters Don W and 'IAD' love a good investigation, and the recent arrival of Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Beech B200 King Air VH-FFI, and had both hot on the chase of this rare visitor to the beef city.

VH-FFI - which is possibly the oldest King Air in the RFDS fleet - touched down at Rockhampton Airport on Monday 18 March as "FlyDoc 469" from its base at Mount Isa.  VH-FFI is in fact an 'operational spare', however by all accounts it has been well utilised in recent months particularly in North-Western Queensland.

VH-FFI was registered as VH-FDI, however had its registration markings changed to accommodate the new Rockhampton-based Hawker Beechcraft B200 King Air VH-FDI ("FlyDoc 467") - pictured below.

VH-FFI was spotted this week tucked away in the back of the RFDS hangar at Rockhampton Airport - and we thank the RFDS staff for the opportunity to grab a quick photo.

As can be seen VH-FFI is undergoing maintenance while in Rockhampton.  Being of the same vintage as once sister-ship VH-FDO, which was sold last year and exported to the United States of America (USA) for spares.  It can be perhaps speculated that VH-FFI might be heading down the same path.

Meanwhile, 'IAD' has spotted no less than five different RFDS King Airs passing through Rockhampton Airport as various time this week.  The Rockhampton base is certainly a busy one, as with the rumoured expansion works being undertaken on the General Aviation side of Rockhampton Airport, it looks like the base might become busier still!

Photos taken by 'IAD' and Don Williams  ©

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Toowoomba-Based Wagners Development Company Super King Air VH-WJW at Gladstone and Emerald Airport Wednesday

Wagners Development Company Hawker Beechcraft B300 Super King Air VH-WJW popped into both Gladstone and Emerald Airports on Wednesday 27 March.

Wagners B300 Super King Air VH-WJW at Avalon Airport

The immaculately presented Super King Air - which I had a opportunity to have a closer look at while I was al Avalon earlier this month - arrived into Gladstone from its Toowoomba base, before operating to Emerald and back to Gladstone.  It later departed Gladstone for Toowoomba.

Wagners is a family owned and operated business that was founded in Toowoomba in 1989.  Wagners offers a wide range of construction products and services including composite fibre technology products, steel and reinforcing goods, cement and flyash, transport services, mobile concrete and crushing plants, oil and gas services and precast concrete.  They have projects throughout Queensland (including Gladstone) and in Central Australia.  

The Wagner family is one of Queensland's wealthiest families and recently is has been reported that they have started work on their own $100 million-plus Wellcamp Business Park and Airport on Toowoomba's western outskirts.  

The facility, reportedly with a 2.87km runway capable of taking jets up to Boeing 747s, will be in use by the second half of next year and is expected to handle 500,000 passengers a year by 2019.

This bold move will be a "total game-changer for Toowoomba and our region", said John Wagner.  The Airport was designed primarily as a gateway for fly-in fly-out workers and charter services to and from the booming mining and gas regions of the Surat, Galilee and Bowen Basins, but the Wagners also want regular scheduled passenger services, perhaps providing a solution to Brisbane Airport's recent woes.

Mr Wagner says that as the largest inland city in Australia after Canberra, Toowoomba will be an attractive destination for operators.  And he believes Wellcamp Airport will be a viable alternative to Brisbane Airport which is struggling to fund a new parallel runway project.

Mooney M20J VH-CYK Involved in a Landing Incident at Hedlow Airfield near Yeppoon

Investigations have commenced after local Mooney M20J VH-CYK was involved in a 'wildlife strike' on Sunday 24 March while trying to land at Hedlow Airfield near Yeppoon.

VH-CYK at Gladstone Airport on November 2012

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating and so far reports that "The aircraft sustained a wildlife strike after the pilot initiated a go-around due to birds near the runway".

It is understood that the aircraft possibly even hit a cow once on the ground.  VH-CYK is believed to have sustained substantial damage.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cessna 210 VH-MEQ Down Near Roma in a Fatal Crash

A well known world champion bull rider and rural real estate identity have died in a plane crash near Roma on Monday 25 March.

Source:  ATSB

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said the crash involving Cessna T210N VH-MEQ, occurred soon after take-off from Roma Airport, destroying the aircraft and killing the two men inside.  Four investigators from the ATSB are on their way to the crash site at Hartley Lane in Orange Hill (near Roma Airport) to begin their investigation.

Meanwhile, the aviation community in Northern New South remains in shock after a well-known local pilot/ instructor died in a light plane crash at Lismore Airport last weekend as well.  The ultralight plane, an RV-12 (from pictures - registered 19-8121) was on its maiden flight having only been approved to fly on the previous day.  Its owner was reportedly watching by the runway as the incident unfolded.

Papua New Guinea Registered Squirrel Helicopter P2-THS Passes Through Gladstone and Mackay Airports

Aerospatiale/Eurocopter AS350.B helicopter P2-THS passed through Gladstone and Mackay Airports on Wednesday 27 March as it headed North.

File photo of P2-THS at Gladstone Airport in May 2012.  (Jamie C)

The Papua New Guinea registered Squirrel chopper eventually ended the day at Cairns.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Another Day Another Bizjet at Rockhampton Airport - Cessna 560 Citation Ultra VH-WFE

Rockhampton Plane Spotter 'IAD' ventured to Rockhampton Airport on Tuesday 26 March to capture a couple of images of Australian Corporate Jet Centres / Mitchell Air Cessna 560 Citation Ultra VH-WFE as it touched down from Brisbane.

The Citation was on the ground for only a couple of hours before it departed for Toowoomba and eventually Narrandera in New South Wales.

All photos taken by IAD  ©

New Skytrans Dash-8-100 VH-QQD First Visit to Clermont Aerodrome

Skytrans Airlines latest Dash-8-100 to join its fleet - VH-QQD - made its first visit to Clermont Aerodrome on Monday 25 March, touching down SKP872 from the Sunshine Coast.  After overnighting, VH-QQD - which is the second Dash-8-100 in the Skytrans fleet to wear this registration - departed back to the Sunshine Coast as SKP877 early on Tuesday 26 March.

VH-QQD (2) was delivered to Cairns in October 2012, wearing full GMG Airlines colours (from Bangladesh), along with the Bangladeshi registration of S2-AAA.  I managed to catch VH-QQD in Cairns in December 2012 as it was still being prepared to enter service with Skytrans, still wearing its GMG Airlines colours.  It was since repainted in Townsville, and entered service with Skytrans in Cairns in January 2013.

VH-QQD was one of three Skytrans Dash-8s noted at Clermont Aerodrome on Tuesday 26 March operating the 6-7 times weekly return Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) charters from Clermont to the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.  Spotted along with VH-QQD were Dash-8-300s VH-QQM and VH-QQP.

It's great to finally be able to report on something 'interesting' happening at my local 'drome!

Attractive Looking Cessna 414A VH-FKH Visits Gladstone Airport on Monday

I noted with interest that Cessna 414A VH-FKH visited Gladstone Airport on Monday 25 March, arriving from and departing back to Toowoomba.  Now I assumed that VH-FKH was still in it's drab and boring white colour scheme that I noted it once before (see below).  However, Jamie C has emailed through some fantastic photos of a repainted and re-registered Cessna 414A VH-FKH which is now operated by McNab Aviation in Toowoomba.

VH-FKH departed just before sunset, and I think Jamie's photos are absolutely beautiful, capturing the Cessna 414A in the soft late evening light.

Incidentally, this is what VH-FKH used to look like!

VH-FKH at Mackay Airport n 2010 (file photo)

I think it looks much nicer now!  Thanks Jamie for these great photos from Gladstone!

All photos taken by Jamie C  ©

Monday, March 25, 2013

And Later on Monday - Earth Commodities Cessna 550 Citation Bravo Bizjet VH-CCJ at Rockhampton Airport

Rockhampton Plane Spotter 'IAD' was excited to learn that this week at Rockhampton Airport was starting with a visiting bizjet, so he decided to take a long lunch and managed to capture some really lovely images as Earth Commodities-operated Cessna 550 Citation Bravo bizjet VH-CCJ eventually touched down from Mackay Airport in the early afternoon on Monday 25 March.

While he was patiently waiting for the little bizjet to arrive, he struck up a conversation with some of the representatives that were waiting for VH-CCJ to arrive.  He discovered that VH-CCJ is flying for a company called Earth Commodities who has operations in Gladstone, Rockhampton, and Mackay (amongst other locations) hence the busy flying day for VH-CCJ.

VH-CCJ started the day by flying into Gladstone from Brisbane (as shown in Jamie C's photo below), before departing for Mackay.  

After departing Mackay and visiting Rockhampton, VH-CCJ concluded the day back in Gladstone, where it looked to be staying overnight.

Thanks to 'IAD' and Jamie C for their great photos of VH-CCJ!

All photos taken by ‘IAD’ and Jamie C  ©

Cessna 550 Citation Bravo Bizjet VH-CCJ Starts a Busy Monday Morning at Gladstone Airport

In the space of just over an hour, Jamie C managed to capture some fantastic images from a busy morning at Gladstone Airport on Monday 25 March.  The morning was highlighted by the visit of Cessna 550 Citation Bravo bizjet VH-CCJ, which touched down from Brisbane.

VH-CCJ departed a little later for Mackay, from where it was expected to depart to Rockhampton, and then return to Gladstone later in day.

Also on Monday 25 March, Jamie captured a couple of lovely images of QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 VH-QOX as it arrived into the Port City on QantasLink's newly established Sydney to Gladstone service.  VH-QOX is shown arriving as QLK2120.

Sister-ship VH-QOY is also pictured as it prepared for departure from Gladstone to Rockhampton as QLK2300.

QantasLink (Cobham Aviation) Boeing B717-200 VH-NXO was also captured by Jamie as it departed to Brisbane as QJE1703.

A busy morning on the commercial front was wrapped up Jamie who captured this fantastic photo of Virgin Australia (Skywest Airlines) ATR 72-500 VH-FVM as it departed Gladstone for Brisbane as VOZ1712.

On the 'lighter' side of the morning's movements at Gladstone Airport, locally-based Australian Helicopters Aerospatiale AS.350BA VH-HQO was captured by Jamie as it returned from a local flight.

VH-HQO is also pictured as it approaches its parking apron along side the newly launched local CareFlight Helicopter Rescue Service Bell 412EP chopper VH-XCY.  Also present is Bell 206 VH-SWI, which has seemed to have taken up residence at Gladstone Airport recently too.

On the General Aviation apron at Gladstone Airport early on Monday 25 March, Jamie captured visiting Cessna 172 VH-IBF, which is based in Warwick.

And also visiting Mooney M20K VH-YRJ of Bishopp Aviation in Brisbane.

What a busy morning!  And my sincere thanks to Jamie C for his continuing support of the CQ Plane Spotting Blog - still the original and the best!

All photos taken by Jamie C  ©