Monday, December 31, 2012

A Couple More Photos From Gladstone Airport

Michael F ventured to Gladstone Airport again this week - it was still pretty quiet - but he managed to capture a couple of lovely images of a couple of familiar aircraft to grace the skies over Gladstone.  Firstly, Eurocopter EC135 P2 VH-ZGZ was caught by Michael as it returned to Gladstone Airport on Saturday 29 December - most probably from a transfer to Gladstone Harbour.

Michael also caught a couple more images of QantasLink (Cobham Aviation) Boeing B717-200 VH-NXI as it touched down at Gladstone Airport from Brisbane late on Saturday 29 December.

Thanks again for you photos Michael - looking forward to more in 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Moranbah Airport Set to Receive Upgrade to Cater for Extra Passengers

A whopping 320,000 extra passengers have been given the green light to land at Moranbah Airport each year, following the recent announcement that the Moranbah township will be given $90 million in infrastructure as the $3.5 billion Caval Ridge mine takes shape nearby.

The BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) funds will upgrade Moranbah Airport, build accommodation villages, improve traffic management and redevelop the township's aquatic centre.

Other community projects will also be included to benefit from the windfall, although BMA has warned that development won't start any time soon!

A recently completed upgrade to Moranbah Airport has seen the terminal building essentially split into sections - a public RPT terminal and a charter and Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) terminal - and it cater for 160,000 passengers each year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cairns-based Barrier Aviation Grounded by The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Until February 2013

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has suspended Cairns-based Barrier Aviation for almost two months for operating with "serious and known defects".  Barrier Aviation is a frequent visitor to Central Queensland Airports - particularly Clermont Aerodrome and Emerald Airport - operating Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) charters from and to North Queensland.

CASA says Barrier Aviation would pose a "serious and immediate risk" to air safety if it was to continue to fly.  "CASA has evidence of Barrier Aviation directing pilots to fly with serious and known aircraft defects, as well as not recording those defects on aircraft maintenance documentation when the defects became known," a aviation regulatory body said in a statement.

"The suspension follows an audit of Barrier Aviation, which revealed a range of maintenance related deficiencies."  The suspension, which began just before Christmas Day, was initially in force for five working days.  However, late on Christmas Eve, CASA was granted an application in the Federal Court to extend the suspension of the airline until at least mid-February 2013.

It may be possible for Barrier Aviation to resume operations earlier, should CASA be satisfied that Barrier Aviation no longer poses a serious and imminent risk to air safety.

A Couple of Photos from Quiet Gladstone Airport

Michael F ventured to Gladstone Airport on Friday 28 December and he captured a couple of lovely photos of locally-based Aerospatiale AS.355F1 Squirrel helicopter as it departed for nearby Heron Island.

With not much else happening, he then travelled up to Round Mountain - nearby to Gladstone Airport - where some great views of the Airport and the arrival and departure flight paths can be found.  Michael sent through some great photos of QantasLink (Cobham Aviation) Boeing B717-200 VH-NXI as it departed Gladstone for Brisbane.

Thanks Michael - great photos!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Christmas Period Brings Bizjets Galore to Hamilton Island Airport

Over the Christmas period, there have been a number of local corporate bizjets noted flying in and out of Hamilton Island Airport.

Sundyne Cessna 650 Citation VII VH-SSZ arrived into Hamo from Sydney on Saturday 22 December.  Later that day, VH-SSZ departed back to Sydney.  On Wednesday 26 December, VH-SSZ again arrived into Hamilton Island from Sydney.  It departed back to Sydney on Thursday 27 December.

Cessna 650 Citation VII VH-ING arrived into Hamilton Island from Melbourne (Essendon) on Sunday 23 December and is believed to still be on the ground at Hamo (file photo below).

On Monday 24 December, another Citation in the form of Business Aviation Solutions Cessna 650 Citation VII VH-LYM arrived from Adelaide and later departed to Armidale.

Wednesday 26 December - Boxing Day - was a busy day for bizjets with Sunshine Air Services Raytheon Hawker 800XP VH-VRC, Shortstop Jet Charter British Aerospace BAe-125-1000B VH-LMP, and Executive Airlines Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign VH-EXQ all touching down from Melbourne (Essendon).  VH-VRC and VH-LMP soon departed back to Essendon, while VH-EXQ continued up to Cairns.  VH-LMP returned again to Hamo later in the day - and departed for the Gold Coast on Friday 28 December.

Lastly, on Thursday 27 December, Business Aviation Solutions Cessna 750 Citation X VH-RCA arrived from Brisbane in the early evening.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Exodus of Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) Workers Brings Extra Flights to Central Queensland Airports

In the days leading up to Christmas Day, there were several additional flights in and out of some Central Queensland airports - we've already highlighted two such occurrences - at Thangool / Biloela Airport (HERE) and at Mackay Airport (HERE).

At my local, Clermont Aerodrome, several extra Skytrans Airlines Dash-8 charters were noted passing through.  On Monday 24 December, there were six flights that flew between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast and onto Clermont.  Dash-8-100 VH-QQK is shown below preparing for departure to Brisbane as SKP863 to the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.

At Emerald Airport, Saturday 22 December saw two additional Alliance Airlines operated flights touch down from Brisbane.  Fokker F-100 VH-XWN was noted operating as UTY410/411/412/413.  These flights were in addition to Alliance Airlines F-100 VH-XWQ operating the 'usual' Saturday morning flights to Emerald on behalf of QantasLink.

Skytrans also operated two additional FIFO charter flights between Brisbane and Emerald on behalf of AERgO, with Dash-8-100 VH-QQJ noted flying as SKP714/715 and Dash-8-300 VH-QQP noted flying as SKP712/713 on Monday 24 December.  Interesting that have been no extra SAAB 340 flights!

Probably the busiest airport though seemed to be Moranbah Airport where over the five days leading up to Christmas Day, there were as many as 48 QantasLink operated Dash-8 flights from and back to Brisbane.  Of these, at least 20 were believed to be FIFO charter flights.

There were also three additional flights to Moranbah from Townsville operated by Virgin Australia (Skywest Airlines) ATR 72-500/600 aircraft.

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!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Morning Plane Spotting Action at Mackay Airport - Despite the Rain!

It's finally raining down the North and Central Queensland Coast, and that certainly put a dampener on my planned morning of plane spotting at Mackay Airport on Sunday 23 December.  Despite the rain however, I did manage to capture a few images of the morning's activities.

Soon after I arrived at Mackay Airport Tiger Airways Airbus A320 VH-VNC was photographed departing for Sydney as TGW387 "GoCat387".

Later in the morning, sistership VH-VND was captured arriving into Mackay from Melbourne (Tullamarine) as TGW382.

It's certainly great to see Tiger back in Mackay (and back in Central Queensland!) - let's hope CQ residents get behind them this time around!

Other commercial movements noted on Sunday 23 December included Jetstar Airways Airbus A320 VH-VGN photographed departing to Brisbane as JST883.

Virgin Australia Boeing B737-800 VH-YFI, pictured arriving in the rain from Brisbane as VOZ605.

And QantasLink Dash-8-Q300 VH-SBG which is photographed departing for Rockhampton as QLK2301.  VH-SBG has been repainted into Qantas/QantasLink's new colour scheme and titles.

Most, if not all of Mackay Airport's resident tourist and charter helicopters were spotted on Sunday 23 December.

Whitsunday Helicopters is based in Mackay and has been servicing Central Queensland for nearly 20 years. They operate a wide range of services including predominately marine and shipping work, but also private and commercial charter and tourist work.  Pictured below is one of their two Aerospatiale AS.350BA Squirrel helicopters - VH-DKA.  The other is registered VH-HBZ.

Whitsunday Helicopters have also recently acquired Agusta A109E Power VH-TRW from Becker Helicopters on the Sunshine Coast.  VH-TRW is used mostly for passenger transfers to ships at the Blossom Banks (YBSM).

Mackay Helicopters - part of the Curry Kenny Aviation Group (Aviation Tourism Australia) - operates a fleet of mostly Bell Helicopters also on predominately marine and shipping work.  I was lucky enough to photograph five of their Bell helicopters on resting in the rain at Mackay Airport on Sunday 23 December.  These included Bell 206s VH-COW, VH-CKU, and VH-CKT.

Also Bell 222 VH-TOR (still wearing an 'old' colour scheme)

And Bell 430 VH-HIA

Lastly, Mackay Helicopters has recently started offering scenic tourist flights over Mackay and the surrounding area using Robinson R-44 VH-WSN.

Anyone interested in more information on scenic flights over Mackay with Mackay Helicopters are urged to contact them directly, or visit their website HERE.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Skytrans FIFO Charters and More at Thangool / Biloela Airport on Friday

Skytrans Airlines operated another two Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) charters out of Thangool / Biloela Airport early on Friday 21 December.

Dash-8-300 VH-QQM operated both of the return flights from and back to Brisbane, flying as SKP7341/7342, then SKP7343/7344.

It was hoped that as many as five return FIFO charter flights would depart Thangool / Biloela Airport on Friday, however circumstances changed, and these were cancelled.

Other aircraft noted visiting Thangool / Biloela on Friday 21 December included:
- QantasLink Dash-8-200 VH-SDE, operating the scheduled QLK2398/2399 from and back to Brisbane.
- General Aviation Maintenance (GAM) Aerocomander 500-S VH-UJU which departed early for Gladstone.
- Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Hawker Beechcraft B200 King Air VH-FDI arrived from and later departed back to Rockhampton as "FlyDoc 467".
- Toll Express Freight Metro 23 VH-HPE, which passed through early from Brisbane to Emerald as TFX110, and then later in the evening returning from Emerald and then departing to Brisbane as TFX113.

New Jetstar Airways Airbus A320 Aircraft - VH-VFJ and VH-VFK - Make Their First Visits to Central Queensland Airports

During the last month or so, Jetstar has taken delivery two more new Airbus A320 aircraft, and is this post we share some information about their first visits to Central Queensland.  Jetstar currently only flys to Hamilton Island, Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast, and Mackay Airports.

A320 VH-VFJ - which also has the 'new' Jetstar titles as shown on sister-ship VH-VFI which I captured in Cairns in early December - was delivered in mid October, and made its first visit to CQ at Hamilton Island on Sunday 4 November, touching down from Sydney as JST842.

Jetstar Airbus A320 VH-VFI in Cairns.

A320 VH-VFK, which was delivered to the airline in mid November, and made its first visit to CQ on Monday 26 November when it arrived into Mackay from Brisbane as JST890.  It repeated this run the next day.

Two Qantas Airways Charter Flights at Mackay Airport Friday

On Friday 21 December, Qantas flew two Boeing B737-800's into Mackay, presumably operating charter flights from and back to Brisbane.

VH-VYK flew into Mackay as QF6160, before departing as QF1371.

Later, VH-VZR flew into Mackay as QF6162, before departing as QF1373.

Meanwhile, Tiger Airways also had a pair of aircraft fly into Mackay Airport on Friday 21 December, operating their recently resumed services.

Airbus A320 VH-VNC operated TGW386/387 from and back to Sydney, while A320 VH-VNJ operated TGW382/383 from and back to Melbourne (Tullarmarine).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Remembering the Victims of WWII Plane Crash at Canal Creek near Rockhampton

On the morning of 19 December 1943, a USSAF Douglas C-47 (DC-3) Dakota transport aircraft VH-CHR (S/N 43-30742) of the 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron of the 374th Troop Carrier Group, crashed en-route from Garbutt Airfield in Townsville to Archerfield Airfield in Brisbane. It was scheduled to make a short stopover at Rockhampton (approx ½ way).

All 31 souls onboard perished in this incident. The ‘passenger’ complement was a mix of US and Australian personnel. A new memorial was unveiled this year to recognise and remember the victims of what is still today, Australia’s 2nd worst aviation disaster.

The disaster occurred six days before Christmas, where the troops on board were coming home.  It was just a routine flight, and their parents, their families, their wives, their girlfriends were waiting for them.

From substantial research undertaken by a Yeppoon historian, it would appear that this aircraft – a reasonably new one – suffered an engine fire while overflying an area of fairly rough terrain, some 60 kilometres North of Rockhampton. Rockhampton is approx 750 kilometres South of Townsville.

The location of the crash, on the remote and isolated Canal Creek Cattle Station, approximately 50 kilometres North of Rockhampton would suggest the pilot had selected a ‘clay pan’ in preparation for an emergency/forced landing. However witness reports indicate that while on descent, an explosion occurred, and the burning wing parted from the aircraft. The plane did reach the lightly treed flat plain – but was already doomed due to its uncontrollable, unflyable condition.