Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Final Two Virgin Australia ATR 72-500s VH-FVX & VH-FVI Depart Australia For Good

Over the course of this last week, the final two Virgin Australia ATR 72-500 turboprop aircraft departed Australia for good, both heading for Nelson Airport in New Zealand for storage.

VH-FVI departs Gladstone Airport  (File photo)

VH-FVX departed Canberra Airport as VOZ9948 on Tuesday 5 December, while VH-FVI also departed Canberra for Nelson but as VOZ9946 on Thursday 7 December.

VH-FVX at Gladstone Airport  (File photo)

They are the fifth and sixth (and final) Virgin Australia ATR 72-500 aircraft to leave Australia, and they join VH-FVH, VH-FVL, VH-FVM and VH-FVU at Nelson with all six aircraft stored and awaiting sale.

As previously mentioned, Virgin Australia plans to consolidate its turboprop operations to routes within the ACT, New South Wales and Victoria as it prepares to reduce the number of ATRs in the fleet from 14 to six.  As a result, the airline has ended all ATR 72 turboprop operations in Queensland.

VH-FVX was delivered to Virgin Australia in Brisbane in May 2012 and was noted wearing the Danish registration of OY-CJV.  It was soon re-registered as VH-FVX and was noted wearing the name 'Kirra Beach'.  Its first revenue flight was at the start of June 2012 and its final service into Central Queensland was on Friday 14 July when it operated into Bundaberg Airport on the VOZ1701/1702 service from and back to Brisbane.

VH-FVX at Gate at Gladstone Airport  (File photo)

Meanwhile, VH-FVI was the second of four aircraft ordered by Virgin Australia for delivery in 2011.  It was registered as VH-FVI and soon after, it touched down at Brisbane on delivery in late August 2011.  VH-FVI was noted wearing the name 'Mission Beach'.  After operating 'route proving' flights to Port Macquarie and Gladstone Airports, its first revenue flight was as DJ1715 from Brisbane to Gladstone Airport on Tuesday 18 October 2011.  Its final service into Central Queensland was also on Friday 14 July when it operated into Moranbah Airport on the VOZ1667/1668 service from and back to Brisbane.

VH-FVI taxis in at Gladstone Airport  (File photo)

In May 2013, Skywest Airlines was officially renamed Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA) and now the ATR fleet are registered and operated by Virgin Australia.  The decision to reduce Virgin’s ATR fleet, as well as its Embraer E190 regional jet fleet, was first announced in June 2016. 

Virgin Australia still has eight ATR 72-600 turboprops in operation on services in New South Wales and Victoria - VH-FVP, VH-FVN, VH-FVQ, VH-FVR, VH-FVY, VH-FVZ, VH-VPI and VH-VPJ.

Sad to see the ATR 72-500s (and Embraer jets) go!

Photos taken by Michael Fleetwood and Anthony Schulz  ©

Friday, December 8, 2017

Storms Around Brisbane Airport Sees Diversions to CQ Airports - Photos of Qantas Boeing B737-800 VH-VXJ at Rockhampton Airport

During the afternoon on Friday 8 December, a nasty line of storms rolled through the South-East corner of the state and affected several inbound and outbound flights at Brisbane Airport.  Several inbound flights from various parts - including Central Queensland - were forced to divert to alternative Airports including four interstate flights which diverted to both Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast) and Rockhampton Airports.

At Hervey Bay Airport, a pair of Virgin Australia services landed during the afternoon - VOZ1105 from Newcastle (Williamtown) operated by B737-800 VH-VOK and VOZ465 from Perth operated by B737-800 VH-VON.  While at Rockhampton Airport, Virgin Australia flight VOZ1217 from Canberra operated by B737-800 VH-YFE and Qantas Airways flight QFA528 from Sydney operated by B737-800 VH-VXJ both landed.

Local plane spotter Daniel B was on hand at Rockhampton Airport and captured some great photos as the Qantas B737-800 VH-VXJ was refuelled and finally received clearance to departed back to Brisbane again as QFA528.

Other flights during the afternoon diverted to the Sunshine Coast, including QJE1791 from Townsville, plus four flights from different parts of CQ - QJE1779 from Rockhampton Airport, QLK2513 from Mackay Airport, QLK2405 from Emerald Airport and QLK2531 from Longreach Airport.

Finally, just to cap off a bad day for travellers on Friday 8 December - particularly those flying in and out of Rockhampton Airport - both Qantas (QantasLink) and Virgin Australia (Alliance Airlines) services were affected due to aircraft serviceability issues with one of the QantasLink flights (operated by Cobham Aviation Boeing B717-200s) and one of the Virgin Australia flights (operated by Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100s) being either delayed or cancelled altogether.

UPDATE!  Indeed Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 VH-XWR broke down at Rockhampton Airport on Friday 8 December - as shown above - after arriving earlier in the day operating the Virgin Australia VOZ1241 service from Brisbane.  On Saturday 9 December, VH-XWR was noted positioning back to Brisbane empty from Rocky as UTY990.  Also on Saturday 9 December, Alliance sent fellow Fokker F-100 VH-XWO to and from Rockhampton Airport as VOZ9531/9532 on a 'rescue mission' transporting the stranded Virgin Australia passengers from the previous day.

Sincere thanks to Daniel B for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos from Rockhampton Airport!

All photos taken by Daniel Bishop  ©

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Big Bristow Helicopters Sikorsky S-92A Helibus Helicopter VH-ZUJ Passes Through Emerald and Longreach Airports

A nice large helicopter to pass through Central Queensland on Thursday 7 December was Bristow Helicopters Sikorsky S-92A Helibus VH-ZUJ, which passed through both Emerald and Longreach Airports while on a ferry flight to the Helitek Helipad in Brisbane.

VH-ZUJ departed Longreach Airport for Mount Isa where it looked to be staying for the night.

UPDATE!  On Friday 8 December, VH-ZUJ continued to Broome in Western Australia via Tennant Creek and Halls Creek.

As pictured above, VH-ZUJ was originally delivered to Australia at Perth Airport in November 2016 along with another Bristow S-92A with American registration N392BG.  They were delivered from Bristow’s American base at Acadiana Regional Airport, New Iberia, Louisiana, on board Volga-Dnepr Airlines Antonov AN-124-100 RA-82079 and were eventually trucked to Broome where they had been operating from.

Photo taken by Steve Axon  ©

Australian Army NH Industries MRH-90 Multi-Role Helicopter A40-008 Passes Through Rockhampton Airport as "Pegasus 09"

Also on Thursday 7 December, Australian Army NH Industries MRH-90 Multi-Role Helicopter A40-008 was also spotted by local plane spotter 'IAD' as it passed through Rockhampton Airport.

It was heard to be flying as "Pegasus 09" and arrived from its Townsville base.  After taking on fuel, A40-008 continued South to Oakey.

UPDATE!  On Friday 7 December, MRH-90 A40-008 - again flying as "Pegasus 9" - returned to Rockhampton Airport, flying back up from Oakey, initially to complete airwork in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) before landing at Rocky for fuel.  It then departed to Townsville.

All photos taken by 'IAD'  ©

UP Aviation Bombardier Global Express XRS Bizjet VH-UPH Pops into Rockhampton Airport

Another nice bizjet to visit Central Queensland touched down at Rockhampton Airport on Thursday 7 December in the form of UP Aviation (of Abbotsford, Victoria) Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global Express XRS bizjet VH-UPH.

The beautiful big bizjet which was only registered in Australia in October arrived into Rocky from Townsville.  It had flown into Townsville from Melbourne (Tullamarine) via Cairns over the early part of this week.

After a couple of hours on the ground, VH-UPH departed Rockhampton Airport for Tullamarine.

Sincere thanks to local plane spotter 'IAD' for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos of another great bizjet visitor to Rockhampton Airport!

All photos taken by 'IAD'  ©

Air Alsie Dassault Falcon 7X Bizjet OY-EJD Arrives into Hamilton Island Airport

An interesting arrival into Hamilton Island Airport in the very wee small hours of Thursday 7 December was Danish registered Air Alsie Dassault Falcon 7X bizjet OY-EJD.

It looked to touch down from Melbourne (Tullamarine) and was heard using the flight number and callsign of ‘MMD6430’ / “Mermaid 6430”.

At the time of writing, it appears that OY-EJD is still parked on Hamo.

Air Alsie ( is a Danish charter airline headquartered in S√łnderborg and based at S√łnderborg Airport, in Denmark.  They primarily which operates business jet services with a fleet of 19 aircraft (as at the start of 2017).

Meanwhile, also visiting Hamilton Island Airport but late on Wednesday 6 December was Vanguard Aviation Cessna 525 CitationJet1 bizjet VH-DAA. It looked to arrive from and then depart back to its Archerfield base.

Finally, also at the time of writing, a fairly recent addition to the Australian bizjet scene in the form of UP Aviation of Victoria Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global Express bizjet VH-UPH is expected to touch down at Rockhampton Airport around lunch time on Thursday 7 December from Townsville.  Nice!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Aeromil Pacific / Flight Options (Australia) Cessna Citation Bizjet VH-SPJ at Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) and Rockhampton Airports

Noted arriving into Rockhampton Airport on Wednesday 6 December was Aeromil Pacific / Flight Options (Australia) Cessna Citation bizjet VH-SPJ.  It arrived from Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) Airport where it arrived on Tuesday 5 December from Cairns.

The sleek Citation is back in CQ after passing through Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast) and Emerald Airports while heading North to Cairns.

After a short time on the ground, VH-SPJ was noted departing Rocky for Bankstown.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday 5 December, Avcair (Norris Aviation) LearJet 60 bizjet VH-XPN touched down at Gladstone Airport for a very short period of time – possibly on a training flight.  It looked to fly up from and then return to its Brisbane base.

Finally, also on Wednesday 6 December, the Queensland Police Service (Airwing) Cessna 560 Citation Ultra bizjet VH-PSU was back in CQ possibly operating their three-times-a-week prisoner transfer flights.  During a busy morning of flying, VH-PSU was noted visiting Rockhampton Airport, arriving from Cairns and Townsville, before later departing for Brisbane.

Sincere thanks to local plane spotter Kayanne H for taking the time to capture and send through this great photo of VH-SPJ!

Photo taken by Kayanne Hardsman  ©

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) B737/E-7A Wedgetail A30-001 Missed Approach at Rockhampton Airport

On Tuesday 5 December, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing B737-7ES / E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft A30-001 was photographed by local plane spotter Kayanne H soon after it had completed a missed approach at Rockhampton Airport.

A30-001 had earlier completed airwork South of Rockhampton before flying up and completing the missed approach at Rockhampton Airport.  It then departed towards the North, possibly to Townsville.  A30-001 was heard using the radio callsign on "Wedgetail 03".

Sincere thanks Kayanne H who was at the right place at the right time to capture these photos!

All photos taken by Kayanne Hardsman  ©

Monday, December 4, 2017

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) B737-7DT(BBJ) A36-001 Completes Missed Approach at Longreach Airport

On Monday 4 December, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing B737-7DF(BBJ) A36-001, flying as "Envoy 12", was heard to fly North out of Canberra and complete a missed approach at Tamworth before it continued further North and completed a missed approach also at Longreach Airport.

A36-001 completes airwork at Longreach Airport in June this year  (File photo)

A36-001 then continued to Townsville.

During the early part of the afternoon, RAAF Beech B350 Super King Air A32-350 "Beaufort 04" was heard to fly North from Sydney and complete a missed approach at Roma Airport before continuing to Cairns.  It was noted flying back South later in the day.

UPDATE!  After dark on Monday 4 December, fellow RAAF Beech B350 Super King Air A32-675 flying as "Dingo 01" touched down at Rockhampton Airport from RAAF Base Williamtown (Newcastle).  It later departed to Townsville.

Meanwhile, also on Monday 4 December, a pair of unidentified RAAF Lockheed AP-3C Orions were heard flying around parts of CQ.  One Orion using the radio callsign of "Striker 12" departed the CQ area for RAAF Base Amberley just after dawn.  It was replaced a short time later by another Orion using the radio callsign of  "Striker 13" which flew up from RAAF Base Edinburgh over Rocky to the airwork area.  Once complete it also flew South to Amberley.

US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon 169005/LC-005 at Amberley

The visiting United States Navy (USN) Boeing P-8A Poseidon (B737-8FV) anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and maritime patrol aircraft, which as posted below, has been identified as 169005/LC-005 of the US Navy's Patrol Squadron Eight (VP-8) 'The Fighting Tigers', was again in the air and completed another sortie to an area off the CQ Coast flying from and back to RAAF Base Amberley where it is currently based.  It was again heard to be using the radio callsign of 'KR757' / "Kilo Romeo 757".

Photos taken by Calen Harvey and Joel Thomas  ©

Some Interesting Civil Helicopters Also Pass Through CQ Airports

As well as the recent military chopper action, some interesting civil helicopter have also been noted passing through Central Queensland Airports heading to various parts seemingly on ferry flights.

On Saturday 2 December, Babcock Mission Critical Services Australasia (formerly Australian Helicopter) Bell 412EP VH-PXY looked to ferry from Coffs Harbour in New South Wales to Mackay Airport at the completion of planned maintenance.  It flew North via fuel stops at Bundaberg and Rockhampton Airports before finishing the day at Mackay.  On Sunday 3 December, VH-PXY continued to ferry North, this time departing Mackay Airport for Townsville, Cairns, Coen and Horn Island.

As previously mentioned, VH-PXY has been operating out of Horn Island in Far North Queensland as “Rescue 700” - as pictured below.  VH-PXY had ferried South from Horn Island to Coffs Harbour via Mackay, Gladstone and Gold Coast Airports in late August.

Ryan Hothersall /

Of interest, fellow Babcock Mission Critical Services Australasia Bell 412EP VH-VAU replaced VH-PXY operating out of Horn Island as "Rescue 700" for a period of time but has since returned to Rockhampton Airport to operate for the locally-based Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service (CHRS).

I've since discovered that fellow Babcock Mission Critical Services Australasia Agusta AB412 (Bell 412) VH-LSV has also been operating out of Horn Island in more recent weeks also as "Rescue 700".

Meanwhile, spotted on the ground at Mackay Airport early on Saturday 2 December was Eurocopter BO105 DBS-4 helicopter VH-JKX of Flying Wombats Australia / Skyline Aviation of New South Wales.  It had flown into Mackay Airport from the South via Rockhampton Airport the previous day and was later noted flying into Cairns from Townsville on Saturday 2 December.

Also on Saturday 2 December, Airlie Beach-based Robinson R-66 helicopter VH-VRK was also noted passing through Rockhampton Airport heading South.  While on Sunday 3 December, recently registered Townsville-based Aerospatiale AS 350 B2 Squirrel helicopter VH-RDA was also noted flying into Rockhampton Airport but from the South before later continuing to Mackay Airport.

Photo taken by 'AC'  ©