Saturday, July 30, 2011

Repainted Virgin Australia Embraer ERJ-190 (E-190) Makes Stunning Queensland Debut at Mackay Airport Saturday

Adam P has managed to catch the first visit into Queensland of Virgin Australia's recently repainted Embraer ERJ-190 (E-190) Regional Jet VH-ZPR.

The E-190 popped into Mackay Airport on Saturday 30 July operating from and back to Sydney where the aircraft is presently based. It is pictured at a very hazy Mackay Airport parked beside Jetstar Airbus A320 VH-VGV, which had arrived from Brisbane.

Central Queensland spotters are excited about the prospect of this lovely looking aircraft making frequent visits to Mackay and Rockhampton in the coming weeks.

Also spotted at Mackay Airport is a recently arrived Pilatus PC-12/45 VH-YDO. The turboprop is reportedly operating for a local company to provide fly-in fly-out charter flights to the local mines. The aircraft was previously operated by the Northern Territory Police Service.

Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 - Our Airline (Air Nauru) and Alliance Charters on an Otherwise Quiet Night and Day at Rockhampton Airport

While most other troops were out in Rockhampton enjoying their downtime after the successful completion of Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011, another load of personnel departed Rockhampton Airport late on Friday 29 July.

Our Airline (Air Nauru) Boeing B737-3YO popped in and departed to the South as RON903.

Meanwhile, on Saturday 30 July, Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 VH-FWH operated a charter from Rockhampton to Darwin as UTY621.

Also on Saturday, Sikorsky S70A-9 Blackhawk helicopter A25-215, which suffered an engine failure while departing Rockhampton Airport recently, emerged and underwent an engine run test after receving a new engine over the last couple of days.

The other Blackhawk helicopter currently at Rockhampton Airport, A25-205, took to the air briefly as "Warhorse 205".

On the civil side of things, an interesting arrival into Rockhampton Airport on Saturday 30 July was Gippsaero GA8-TC-320 Airvan of the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).

The Airvan, registered VH-BYQ, is a brand new Australian-built aircraft and is presently on an Eastern Seaboard Tour to allow MAF to show the aircraft off.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Strategic Airlines to Withdraw Flights to Gladstone Airport

Friday 29 July - Strategic Airlines has today announced it's withdrawal of services on the Gladstone to Brisbane route.

The Airline contacted media outlets today to announce its withdrawal, which is effective from Friday 12 August.

This news comes in the same week that Virgin Australia announced plans to start Brisbane to Gladstone services in October with ATR 72-500 turboprop aircraft - further details HERE.

A Strategic spokeeperson said the decision was a sad one for the airline. The decision appears to be the result of commercial difficulties experienced by Strategic since it arrived at Gladstone Airport in April.

Strategic did not mention their only competitor on the route, Qantas/QantasLink, but made reference to "aggressive competitor activity". This appears to be connected with Strategic's previous request that the ACCC investigate whether Qantas/QantasLink was engaged in anti-competitive behaviour.

Strategic thanked the Gladstone Regional Council, Gladstone Airport, and the Gladstone community and businesses for their support.

Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 - The Departure of Personnel and Equipment From Rockhampton Airport Continues

Local spotters were again treated to a real beauty of a visitor with Qantas Airbus A330-303 VH-QPA making a stunning sight as it arrived at Rockhampton Airport on Friday 29 July.

The Airbus flew direct from Sydney as QF6020, and it is the first time a Qantas Airbus aircraft has arrived at Rockhampton Airport. After spending some time loading freight and passengers, it later departed for Melbourne as QF1350.

Meanwhile, heard departing to the South (and most probably back to their home) much earlier in the morning, were Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Westland Sea King Mk.50A helicopters N16-125 ("Shark 10") and N16-239 ("Shark 21"). They are pictured at Rockhampton Airport earlier during the Exercise.

There are also presently only a handful of Australian Army helicopters at Rockhampton Airport.

One other notable movement - albeit at about 5000 feet above Rockhampton Airport - were a pair of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Pilatus PC-9/A aircraft flying together to the South as "Reaper".

We thank the local spotters for their pictures!

Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 - Qantas Begins the Outbound Charters Movements From Rockhampton Airport

Local spotters were treated to two visits on Thursday 28 July by Qantas Boeing B767-338(ER) VH-OGE, which was believed to be operating outbound troop charters.

The heavy jet arrived in the early morning direct from Sydney as QF6114, before departing as QF1350 to Darwin.

Later in the afternoon, VH-OGE returned to Rockhampton from Darwin as QF6124, before departing as QF1351 to Adelaide.

It is believed that there will be another Qantas operated troop charter, with a World Airways McDonnell Douglas MD-11 to return to Rockhampton soon to transport our American visitors back home.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fuel Spill Clue to Rockhampton Airport Portaloo Blast

The Morning Bulletin - Thursday 28 July - The Australian Defence Force (ADF) member seriously burnt during a portaloo explosion on Monday 25 July may have entered it after being exposed to a fuel spill, it has been revealed.

What caused the explosion has been the subject of widespread speculation, however, yesterday the Department of Defence said it believed the man, who suffered third-degree burns to 40% of his body, had fuel on his body and that contributed to the ignition.

The RAAF member suffered horrific burns to his face, head, arms, chest and airways. He was yesterday in a critical, but stable, condition in Royal Brisbane Hospital after earlier this week undergoing emergency surgery.

The Defence spokeswoman said the investigation into the cause of the accident was ongoing.

Virgin Australia Expands Regional Network Adding Gladstone Flights

Gladstone is flying high after an announcement from Virgin Australia on Wednesday 27 July that it will commence flights from Gladstone to Brisbane starting in October.

Virgin Australia will operate its new ATR 72-500 regional aircraft on the new service, under its regional alliance with Skywest Airlines (subject to regulatory approval).

From October, Virgin Australia will fly twice daily return flights between Brisbane and Gladstone on weekdays.

Gladstone Airport bosses are excited with the new Virgin Australia services, which along with the recent introduction of Strategic Airlines, and additional services from QantasLink, should provide a massive boost to the local economy, and further support the current business and tourism trends within Gladstone region.

Virgin Australia will also now operate a service from Brisbane to Port Macquarie and extra services between Canberra and Sydney.

The new ATR 72-500 turboprop regional airliner will be operated under an alliance with Skywest Airlines. Under the wet lease arrangement, Skywest will provide the technical and cabin crew and source the maintenance provider of the fleet.

The ATRs – to be fitted with 68 seats – will replace the Embraer E-170 Regional Jets in Virgin Australia service. According to the airline, the ATR offers less than half the fuel burn and fuel costs, and will cover an average 150nm sector in the same block time as the E-170.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Australian Defence Force (ADF) Member Seriously Injured in Explosion at Rockhampton Airport

AAP - An Australian Defence Force (ADF) member has suffered horrific burns in a portaloo explosion on Monday 25 July as Rockhampton. The incident was apparently sparked by a cigarette.

The man suffered third-degree burns to his head, face, arms, chest and airways in the incident.

He was taken to the Rockhampton hospital in a serious condition, and was expected to be evactuated to Brisbane Monday night.

The man was participating in Military Exercise Talisman Sabre, the joint US-Australia exercise, which is currently being held in Central Queensland, and is using Rockhampton Airport.

The man's family has been notified, and police and fire authorities were investigating the incident.

Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 - Limited Highlights at Rockhampton Airport

The recent security breach at Rockhampton Airport, where an Australian Army Eurocopter EC665 Tiger (ARH) helicopter - believed to be A38-006 - was allegedly damaged by a peace protestor, have lead to speculation in national media that the Army has relocated most of its helicopters to a landing site within the secure Shoalwater Bay Training Area.

A spokesperson for the Australian Army has denied these claims, saying that the helicopters were moved to different locations as a part of the Exercise, and this was planned long before last week's incident.

Suffice to say, there has been very little activity at Rockhampton Airport over the last couple of days, with only the occassional Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Westland Mk.50A Sea King and Sikorsky S-70B/SH-60 Seahawk noted popping in and out.

Moreover, local spotters report that all but five Australian Army Sikorsky S70A-9 Blackhawk helicopters remain parked at Rockhampton Airport, with all other Tiger and Commonwealth CA-32 (Bell 206B/OH-58A) Kiowa helicopters seemingly gone from the Airport.

The scenes of the once full helicopter parking areas (above) are currently a thing of the past!

About the most exciting recent movement occurred on Monday 25 July, when Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Lockheed C-130H Hercules A97-007 was noted departing.

There was also a nice non-military visitor on Sunday 24 July, with Gulfsream G-IV bizjet, N810LP, of TAG Aviation, noted arriving and departing twice during the day. We thank Don W for providing the following photo.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 - Wednesday and Thursday's Highlights at Rockhampton Airport

The US and Australian Defence Forces continue to participate in Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 under perfect Rockhampton skies. Local spotters at Rockhampton Airport also continue to enjoy the perfect weather and we thank them for providing some of the following information and pictures.

Wednesday 20 July turned out to be a relatively quiet day, with the majority of movements again being from Australian Army Eurocopter EC665 (ARH) Tiger and Sikorsky S70A-9 Blackhawk helicopters, as well as Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Westland Mk.50A Sea King sorties to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.

Of the American forces, United States Navy (USN) Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk - 163240 - of the HSL-51 Unit visited Rockhampton again as "Warlord 710".

And United States Marine Corps (USMC) Lockheed KC-130J, 167983 (Tail Code QD-983) of the VMGR-152 Unit, popped in once again from the North.

An interesting non-military visitor was Eclipse EA500 bizjet registered N580WC. The aircraft is owned and operated out of Archerfield Airport in Brisbane by the Wanless Enviro Services Corporation.

On Thursday 21 July, Rockhampton Airport's security fence was breached by a protestor who cut his way through a gate, and gained access to the Australian Army helicopter parking area. He was then alleged to have used a garden mattock or axe to cause damage to one of the parked Eurocopter Tiger helciopters.

Local spotters report that the damaged chopper could be A38-006.

Notable movements on Thursday included United States Navy (USN) Sikorsky SH-60F Oceanhawk - 164081 - of the HSL-51 VIP 7th Fleet was noted flying as "Blackbeard 01".

This is the sister-helicopter to USN Sikorsky Oceanhawk 164446 which flew into Rockhampton Airport on Tuesday as "Blackbeard 02". Both choppers are from the USN ship "USS Blue Ridge".

Another USN visitor was Lockheed C-130T Hercules 165158 (tail code CW-158) of the VR-54 Unit, arrived as "Convoy 7142".

Also paying another visit - almost a daily routine now - was United States Marine Corps (USMC) Lockheed KC-130J, 167983 (Tail Code QD-983) of the VMGR-152 Unit, this time as "Sumo 81".

Also noted was Aerorescue (AMSA - Australian Maritime Safety Authority) Dornier 328-100 VH-PPV, which is operated by Aero Pearl, arrived and departed to sea as "Rescue 441".

Lastly, as Virgin Australia B737-700, VH-VBF arrived in the late afternoon from Brisbane, the Rockhampton Airport Tower Controller noticed a large amount of smoke coming from the left main landing gear during its landing roll-out. The B737 was just beginning to exit the runway when the controller instructed it to hold position. As pictured below, two fire tenders were dispatched and it was some minutes before the B737 was cleared to taxi to the apron, with the fire tenders following closely behind.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 - Man Charged with Attacking Eurocopter Tiger Helicopter

From The Morning Bulletin and ABC News Online - Police are interviewing a man over an attack on an Australian Army Eurocopter EC665 ARH Tiger helicopter at Rockhampton Airport around 10am on Thursday 21 July.

They say the man made his way onto the tarmac by cutting a padlock on a gate, and then simply riding his tri-cycle up to the chopper.

It is believed he then allegedly used a garden mattock or axe on the helicopter, as a protest against the joint US and Australian Military Exercise Talisman Sabre.

It is unclear how much damage was caused to the chopper as a result of the attack.

Police say he is yet to be charged.

The attack comes as a Rockhampton magistrate fined three protesters for trespassing in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 - Tuesday's Highlights at Rockhampton Airport

Local news reported that there was a mass amphibious landing in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area early on Tuesday 19 July, and to support this there were several Eurocopter EC665 (ARH) Tiger and Sikorsky S70A-9 Blackhawk helicopter sorties from Rockhampoton Airport to the training area.

Pictured below are Eurocopter Tigers A38-020 and A38-012 which flew as "Grumpy 11".

Eurocopter Tigers A38-008 and A38-007 flew as "Mohawk".

Also noted flying to the training area were Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Westland Mk.50A Sea Kings N16-239 "Shark 21" and N16-118 "Shark 07", while RAN Sikorsky S-70B/SH-60 Seahawk N24-005 is pictured arriving again today from the South as “Tiger 74”.

Later in the day, a flight of four Blackhawks was set to fly out at "Warhorse Blue" however on departure, one of the choppers, A25-215, was seen to be puffing out a lot of smoke from one engine. It immediately landed safely and was later photographed being towed to the temporary Australian Army helicopter maintenance area.

The other three Blackhawks departed as planned.

There were some interesting United States Navy (USN) helicopter movements as well on Tuesday 19 July. Arriving late in the morning, and parking at Rockhampton Airport for most of the day were USN Sikorsky SH-60F Oceanhawk 164446 of the HSL-51 VIP 7th Fleet, which is pictured arriving as "Blackbeard 02" , while USN Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk 163240 of the HSL-51 Unit is pictured arriving as "Warlord 710". This Seahawk was also noted popping into the airport on two other occasions during the day.

Of the fixed-wing movements, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing C-17A Globemaster III A41-207 popped into Rockhampton from Amberley as “Stallion 24”.

RAAF Beech B350 Super King Air A32-339 from 38 Squadron popped into Rockhampton Airport as "Dingo 11".

Lastly, United States Marine Corps (USMC) Lockheed KC-130J, 167983 (Tail Code QD-983) of the VMGR-152 Unit paid a quick visit before departing to the North as "Sumo 82".