Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Virgin Australia Boeing B737-800s Pop Into Central Queensland Airports This Week

As well as the influx of lovely bizjets that have popped in, Hamilton Island Airport has also seen its fair share of new Virgin Australia Boeing B737-800 aircraft at the airport this week. On Monday 26 December VH-YVD and VH-YFK both visited. VH-YFK is Virgin's latest B737-800. It also visited on Thursday 29 December. On Wednesday 28 December, VH-YVC visited Hamilton Island too.

VH-YVC was also noted at Rockhampton Airport, this time on Thursday 29 December, while on Friday 30 December, VH-YID was noted at Rockhampton Airport.

At Mackay Airport, VH-YVC made its second visit on Friday 30 December.

Other newish B737-800s VH-YFC and VH-YFE were also noted in Central Queensland during the week.

Friday, December 30, 2011

GSL Aviation Operating Transfer and Charter Flights from The Whitsunday Airport

GSL Aviation is a relatively new flying service providing competitive transfers in the Whitsundays, as well as scenic flights and air charter flights, from the main terminal building at The Whitsunday Airport near Airlie Beach / Shute Harbour.

GSL Aviation operate a pair of land based fixed-high-wing aircraft that ensure passengers receive the best views from their flying experience. Currently, Cessna 210L VH-FOC and Gipplands Aeronautics GA-8 Airvan VH-URB are based at The Whitsunday Airport.

GSL Aviation currently operate air transfer services in the Whitsundays (as shown below), with Airlie Beach to/from Hamilton Island transfers starting from just $75 one way. They also offer this transfer over the 'scenic route', which includes numerous sights including Shute Harbour, the Molle Islands, Dent Island, Hamilton Island, Hayman Island, Hook Island, Whitsunday Island, Whitehaven Beach.

The beautiful Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef are best appreciated from the air, and GSL Aviation offers scenic flights from Airlie Beach starting at just $69 as shown in the flight map below.

Some of the sights included in the reef and island flights include Shute Harbour, the Molle Islands, Long Island, Dent Island, Hamilton Island, Whitehaven beach, Hook Island, Hayman Island and Daydream.

GSL Aviation also operate a free shuttle to/from The Whitsunday Airport at Airlie Beach and surrounding suburbs for all passengers.

Lastly, GSL Aviation offer aircraft charter to a variety of locations in the Whitsundays, Mackay and the Bowen basin.

For further information, or to make a booking for one of their transfer or scenic flights, GSL Aviation can be contacted on 1300 GSL AIR (1300 475 247), or on their website:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Robinson Helicopter Heaven at The Whitsunday Airport This Week

Spending some time with the in-laws at Airlie Beach this week has enabled me to pop into the Whitsunday Airport at Shute Harbour and take a few photos of some of the resident helicopters. Most of the local choppers seem to be Robinson R-22 and R-44 helicopters - no surprise as there is a Heli-Biz office and hangar at the Airport.

Here are some of the Robinsons that I have seen...

R-44 VH-ACN which is operated by Heli-Tours Whitsunday and operates transfer and charter flights from the Whitsunday Airport Terminal (pictured above)

R-44 VH-WSN is registered to Aviation Tourism Australia and wears various titles - Best Scene from Above as well as Heli-Reef Whitsunday and Hayman Island titles

R-44 VH-RES - with floats deployed - is owned in Victoria

R-44 VH-SCM is registered locally

R-44 VH-DCF is registered locally

R-22 VH-NOM is registered locally to The Helicopter Flight Centre

Lastly, Mackay based Bell 206, VH-SWI, which is registered to the Whitsunday Helicopter Group was also noted in the Helibiz hangar receiving attention.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

You Guessed it!! Another Bizjet at Hamilton Island Airport!!

The Whitsundays must be the place for overseas holiday makers, as yet another bizjet has been noted at Hamilton Island Airport in the middle of the Whitsundays.

This time, Chinese registered Gulfstream Aerospace G-V-SP Gulfstream G550 bizjet, B-8137 was noted departing Brisbane Airport for Hamilton Island on Tuesday 27 December.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Day... Another Bizjet at Hamilton Island Airport

On Monday 26 December, Gulfstream Aerospace G-IV Gulfstream IV-SP, N1925M, which operates for Mannco LLC in the USA, was noted departing Cairns for Hamilton Island. It had earlier arrived from Queenstown (New Zealand).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Kraft Foods Gulfstream Bizjet to Hamilton Island Airport

On Saturday 24 December, Kraft Foods Gulfstream Aerospace G-V-SP, Gulfstream G550 Bizjet, N550KF, departed Hamilton Island for Brisbane and later New Zealand.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas!!

To the followers of the CQ Plane Spotting Blog, and all the other visitors to our website, we hope that you and your families all have a very happy and safe Christmas!!

Hopefully Santa did make it to your place!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Virgin Australia / Skywest Airlines ATR at Rockhampton Airport Wednesday - UPDATED!!

As previously posted, Virgin Australia ATR 72-500 VH-FVM popped into Rockhampton Airport on Wednesday 21 December.

Don W managed to get a quick snap and reports that the ATR appeared to be in town for ground crew familiarization and training.

The Skywest Airlines operated ATRs are most probably coming to Rockhampton Airport to allow the Airline Handling Agency at Rockhampton to train the new Emerald based ground crew ahead of Virgin Australia commencing flights to the Central Highlands in early 2012.

UPDATE!! Perhaps the training is not only for Emerald crews - I have been told by two sources that the word around Rockhampton Airport Wednesday was that Virgin Australia ATRs would be operating flights between Brisbane and Rockhampton on weekends from February 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nice Pair of Bizjets at Hamilton Island Airport This Week

Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global Express Bizjet, N887WM, was noted visiting Hamilton Island Airport on Tuesday 20 December. It arrived from, and later departed back to the Gold Coast. It is believed to carry Bill Gates and family.

Meanwhile, Execujet New Zealand Gulfstream G-V-SP (Gulfstream 550) ZK-KFB was noted departing Hamilton Island Airport for Townsville and Pago Pago on Wednesday 21 December.

Qantas Boeing B737-800 Visits Mackay Airport Wednesday

Adam P noted that on Wednesday 21 December, Qantas operated a Brisbane-Mackay-Brisbane service with Boeing B737-800 VH-VXN. Presumed to be a one-off, the flights operated as QF1350/1351.

Rockhampton Airport Tuesday and Wednesday

On Tuesday 20 December, a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing C-17A Globemaster III was noted conducting a touch-and-go approach at Rockhampton Airport. One was noted in the morning and then another later in the afternoon.

Also noted at Rockhampton Airport on Tuesday was Bombardier CL-604 Challenger bizjet VH-EVJ, which is operated by the Sydney Jet Charter.

On Wednesday 21 December, it is expected that a Skywest / Virgin Australia ATR 72-500 will arrive into Rockhampton Airport around 11am (subject to change of course).

Monday, December 19, 2011

Five More ATR 72s for Virgin Australia / Skywest Airlines

From Australian Aviation.

Skywest Airlines has announced an order for five ATR 72-600 turboprops, which will bring the fleet of ATR 72s it operates for Virgin Australia to 13.

Skywest already operates four 68-seat ATR 72-500s for Virgin on routes including from Gladstone to Brisbane. It expects to take delivery of four 68-seat 72-600s, early next year. The latest five ATR 72-600s are scheduled for delivery between early 2013 and early 2014.

Those five aircraft brings to 13 the number of ATR 72s ordered this year by Singapore based leasing company Avation PLC for Skywest Airlines. The new also includes options for eight -600s. The list price of the agreement, including options, is over US$295 million, according to ATR.

Meanwhile, at Emerald Airport, advertising posters and a giant billboard have gone up advertising the start of scheduled services between Emerald and Brisbane in January 2012.

The first ATR 72-500 will touch down from Brisbane early on Monday 16 January.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Survey Aircraft and QantasLink Special Taronga Dubbo Zoo Dash-8 at Emerald Airport Saturday

On my way back to Clermont, I popped into Emerald Airport on Saturday 17 December. I spotted three aerial survey aircraft - all registered to the same company in New South Wales.

Firstly, Cessna 404 VH-LAM - which also wears 'Airlines of Tasmania' colours. Piper PA-31P VH-SGA is parked behind this aircraft and is also an aerial survey aircraft.

GAF N22C Nomad VH-ATO was photographed departing on a survey flight - I later noted this aircraft overhead my house in Clermont - and then heard on the scanner that it then flew to Dysart before returning to Emerald late in the day.

Lastly, QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 VH-QOW was operating a scheduled service from and back to Brisbane. As posted previously, it currently wears a livery promoting the Taronga Zoo at Dubbo in New South Wales.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday at Rockhampton Airport

Some photos of some of the commercial aircraft at Rockhampton Airport on Friday 16 December.

Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 VH-XWM spotted departing of Runway 15 to Brisbane.

QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 VH-QOX lifting off Runway 33 - complete with vortices off the prop blades - bound for Cairns via Mackay and Townsville.

Virgin Australia Embraer E-190 VH-ZPQ in new colours.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus A330-203 KC-30A MRTT Missed Approach at Rockhampton Airport

Rockhampton spotters have been treated to a trio of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) training flights this week.

A recently delivered RAAF Airbus A330-203 KC-30A MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) has flown to Rockhampton and performed a missed approach during the mornings of Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 December.

Both visits were a great surprise, however one spotter was at the right place at the right time and sent us a photo from his smart phone!

On Monday 12 December, I noted a RAAF Boeing 737-700 Wedgetail (AWACS) aircraft perform a missed approach into Rockhampton Airport late in the afternoon.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rockhampton Airport Spottings This Week

While I’m in Rockhampton this week for cricket, and despite the inclement weather, I have been able to spot a couple of nice aircraft at Rockhampton Airport.

Firstly, on the commercial front, Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 VH-XWR was noted operating for QantasLink on Monday 12 December.

Also QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 VH-QOV popped in from Gladstone and Brisbane, and continued North to Cairns via Mackay and Townsville as QLK2300.

A nice looking pair of Bell 206 Jetranger helicopters caught my eye. This very brightly coloured chopper - VH-ACT - is pictured parked outside the JMK Project Builders Hangar on the GA Side of the Airport.

Also on the GA side, Bell 206 VH-JGT (pictured below) has departed early and returned late each day of the week.

Also catching my eye on Tuesday 13 December was a trio of Britten-Norman BN-2A Islanders all parked in close quarters at the General Aviation Apron.

Firstly, BN2A-26 VH-RQW which wears 'Par Avion' titles (which is part of Airlines of Tasmania), but is operated by an aerial survey company in New South Wales, was photographed before departing to Emerald via airwork at Gladstone.

The Rockhampton Aero Club's BN-2A-8 Islander VH-SLM operates various flights during the day.

And Lastly, Britten-Norman BN-2T Turbine Islander VH-YVH really caught my attention as it is all kitted out with the Wescam MX-15 camera turret on the nose. The aircraft is registered to Britten Norman, and according to some sources is operated by Airborne Surveillance. It carries the code ‘220’.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday Afternoon Arrivals at Central Queensland Airports

This information comes from Lloyd F in Brisbane...

A pair of Regional Express (REX) SAAB 340Bs were due to arrive in Middlemount and then Emerald Airports late on Monday 12 December. One routed Brisbane-Hervey Bay-Middlemount-Emerald-Brisbane, while the other flew Brisbane-Middlemount-Emerald-Brisbane.

Also a Brindabella Airlines Metro and a Beech 1900D of AirLink (Dubbo) - believed to be VH-RUE - were also due to arrive at Emerald Airport on Monday evening.

Meanwhile Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign bizjet VP-CFP was noted arriving into Charter Towers Aerodrome late Monday as well - now that is an interesting visitor to this quiet little Airport!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jetstar Flight to Mackay Airport Becomes 11 Hour Marathon

Storms in Central Queensland have caused chaos for several travellers over the weekend. One storm rolling through Rockhampton was captured late today.

About 96 people flying from Brisbane to Mackay with Jetstar on Saturday 10 December were diverted to Townsville because of storms. They were then bussed back to Mackay as their A320 VH-JQL flew on elsewhere.

The usual one hour and 20 minute trip took more than 11 hours for the passengers.

A Jetstar spokesperson is quoted as saying that the diversion was the best option in the poor weather and that they had tried to make the journey as comfortable as possible.

Meanwhile, a QantasLink flight from Brisbane to Rockhampton on Sunday 11 December was rescheduled and eventually made it to Rockhampton on Monday. Consequently, QLK2349 was delayed today by around 2 hours.

A Quick Look Inside the Nixon Communications Hangar at Gladstone Airport

Recently we ventured to Gladstone Airport, and stuck our head inside a random hangar on the Western edge of the airport. Inside I found John Nixon, who is the owner of Nixon Communications.

Nixon Communications aims to provide innovative and effective solutions to communication problems in remote and non-remote environments, by supplying systems and equipment, and supporting these with fast and reliable repairs and maintenance services.

The business was started by John Nixon in Gladstone, in 1977 as a one-man operation. Today, the business has grown, and Nixon Communciations has Branch Offices in Rockhampton, Mackay, and Blackwater, as well as the Main Office still in Gladstone. Nixon Communications currently provides communication systems to major commercial, construction, and mining projects throughout Central Queensland, Australia, New Guinea, and the Soloman Islands. The company continues to expand, now employing more than 60 people, as well as operating three Company aircraft, a fleet of vehicles, and pilot technicians, to provide fast and efficient installation and back-up service wherever necessary.

Inside the hangar at Gladstone Airport was Nixon's 1974 Cessna 210L Centurion 2 - registered VH-NCG. John welcomed us inside the hangar for a look and a quick chat about the aircraft.

He was also busily preparing the plane for a flight to Mackay and back. John was paying some attention to the propeller - smoothing-out some minor chips caused from unprepared landing-strips. Apparently irregularities in the propeller has the potential to cause stress fractures.

According to John, VH-NCG is capable of flying from Perth to Gladstone with only one fuel stop - usually at Coober Pedy. Going the other way however, more fuel stops are required due to the jetstream winds. John has completed several crossings of Australia, and generally cruises at 23000ft. With oxygen installed onboard, he has the capacity to fly as high as 31000ft thanks to the turbo-charged engine.

On average, VH-NCG is utilised between 35-40 hrs per month - predominately on business work - and is capable of completing the Gladstone to Mackay leg in 70 minutes - which was his planned journey (and return) today, transporting personnel employed by the business.

Readers may remember that another one of Nixon's aircraft - Cessna 150 VH-RXJ - was noted at Mackay Airport not so long ago.

The third aircraft in the Nixon Communications fleet is Cessna 182 VH-STA.

We thank John Nixon for his time and for allowing us to take photos inside his hangar. Readers can learn more about Nixon Communications from their website - LINK.