Thursday, January 31, 2013

Also Spotted at Rockhampton Airport This Week - And Preparations Begin for Flooding This Weekend

A great week of plane spotting at Rockhampton Airport this week, and local spotters Don W and 'IAD' have been amongst the action!

No doubt the highlight of the week was the emergency landing at Rockhampton Airport of Qantas Airways Boeing B737-800 VH-VXE while Brisbane to Townsville as QF974.  VH-VXE eventually departed Rockhampton for Brisbane as QF6112 late on Wednesday 30 January.  It was believed to have suffered cabin pressure problems, and VH-VXE was noted flying to Brisbane at a cruising altitude of only 9000 feet.

Another Qantas B737-800 in the form of VH-VZZ positioned to Rockhampton late on Tuesday 29 January to collect the stranded passengers off VH-VXE and eventually departed on the continuation of QF974 to Townsville.

Other commercial movements noted this week at Rockhampton Airport have included Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 VH-XWT which 'IAD' spotted departing on Tuesday 29 January for Brisbane operating on behalf of QantasLink.

QantasLink also had a pair of their own Dash-8-Q400 aircraft at Rockhampton Airport that 'IAD' spotted, in form of VH-QOR and VH-QOW - which still in Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo Colours.

QantasLink (Cobham Aviation) Boeing B717-200 VH-NXI was spotted departing for Brisbane on Wednesday 30 January.

Special movements into Rockhampton Airport were highlighted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus A330-203 / KC-30A (MRTT) A39-003 which was caught by 'IAD' on Wednesday 30 January.

Most of the other interesting movements have been in association with the devastating floods that hit part of Central Queensland over last weekend and this week.  Rockhampton played host to a number of helicopters in the early part of the week, including rescue helicopters from Mackay and Townsville, as well as a number private choppers.

Avalon Aviation Eurocopter EC130B4 VH-EHY was photographed by Don W resting on the General Aviation apron.

Nearby, Theodore-based Bell 206B (II) VH-JAQ was photographed again by Don W.

Mackay Helicopters Bell 430 VH-HIA was caught by Don W as it was returning from completing one of its many flights out of Rockhampton Airport earlier in the week.  Mackay Helicopters Bell 222 VH-TOR was also spotted at Rockhampton during the week.

Of the more interesting fixed-wing visitors, Don W caught Skytrans Dash-8-100 VH-QQE, which passed through on Sunday 27 January wearing the full colours of Maroomba Airlines - a Perth-based charter company.

'IAD' also caught Queensland Police Service (Airwing) Cessna 208 Caravan VH-PSY on Tuesday 29 January.  VH-PSY, and the Police Airwing's Raytheon 1900D VH-PSK have been noted at Rockhampton most days this week.

Meanwhile, the Rockhampton Regional Council is making preparations for the weekend flood-peak in the Fitzroy River.  At the current predicted flood peak on Saturday 2 February, the Rockhampton Airport will be affected in some way.

Predictions are that the flood peak will be around the 8.5m mark. At this level, Council has stated that the main Runway 15/33 will remain open, but at a reduced length.  This will enable airlines to continue to operate flights in and out of Rockhampton Airport.  The airlines have been advised accordingly and passengers should contact their airlines for updates on flight details.

Also in preparation, Council has closed the Premium Long Term Car Park and the parking options are the Long Term Car Park at $10 a day or the Short Term Car Park at $15 a day. Those who have vehicles currently on, or intend to park on Hunter Street, should refrain from doing so as this area may be impacted by floodwaters over the coming days. 

Council has assured that they will continue to monitor the situation as more accurate predictions are received.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus A330-203 / KC-30A (MRTT) A39-003 at Rockhampton Airport Wednesday

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus A330-203 / KC-30A (MRTT) A39-003 was spotted at Rockhampton Airport on Wednesday 30 January.

It landed on Runway 15 at Rockhampton after completing a training flight from Amberley.  After a 15 minute crew change, A39-003 blasted off Runway 15, returning to Amberley using the callsign "Dragon 24".

We thank Rockhampton Plane Spotter 'IAD' for his fantastic photos!

All photos taken by 'IAD'  ©

Qantas Airways Boeing B737-800 VH-VXE Departs Rockhampton Airport for Brisbane After Emergency Landing Yesterday

Qantas Airways Boeing B737-800 VH-VXE made an emergency landing at Rockhampton Airport on Tuesday 29 January while enroute Brisbane to Townsville as QF974.  It is believed the crew on board detected problems with the cabin pressurisation, and they elected to descend and land at Rockhampton (where is photographed below by 'IAD').

On Wednesday 30 January, VH-VXE remained on the ground at Rockhampton Airport - as shown in the photo below taken by Rockhampton Plane Spotter Don W early on Wednesday morning.

In the late afternoon, VH-VXE was heard departing Rockhampton Airport as QF6112, bound for Brisbane.  Interestingly, its final cruising altitude was 9000 feet.

Photos taken by Don Williams and ‘IAD’  ©

Plenty of Bizjet Action Around Central Queensland Airports

Over the last couple of weeks, there have been a fair amount of local bizjet movements in and out of Central Queensland Airports.  Unsurprisingly, these movements have been dominated in recent days by the Queensland Government and Queensland Police Service aircraft, as they make frequent trips into the various flood-affected areas of Central Queensland.

The Queensland Government (State of Queensland) Raytheon Hawker 850XP VH-SGY has been noted at Thangool / Biloela, Longreach, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, and Gladstone.  As mentioned below, Jamie C caught VH-SGY as it popped into Gladstone on Sunday 27 January.

The Queensland Police Service (Airwing) Cessna 560 Citation Ultra VH-PSU has been noted at Rockhampton and Bundaberg on multiple occasions in support of the flood relief efforts.  Other Police aircraft including Raytheon 1900D VH-PSK and Cessna 208 Caravan VH-PSY have also been noted in the region, with VH-PSY photographed at Rockhampton Airport by 'IAD' on Tuesday 29 January.

Several other Australian bizjets have been noted in  Central Queensland over the last week or so.  Balmoral Air Dassault Falcon 2000EX VH-WIO (file photo below) was noted arriving into Hamilton Island from Brisbane and Bankstown on Tuesday 22 January.  It departed for Bankstown on Wednesday 23 January.

Also at Hamilton Island, Henadeck Cessna 525 Citation CJ1 VH-YNE, which arrived from Bankstown back on Wednesday 16 January, departed back to Bankstown on Friday 25 January.  Lastly, Shortstop Jet Charter British Aerospace BAe-125-1000B VH-LMP arrived into Hamo from Melbourne (Essendon) on Sunday 27 January.  After staying the night, VH-LMP returned to Essendon on Monday 28 January.

Also over the weekend, Professional Jet Aviation Cessna 525 Citation CJ1 VH-CDG was noted at Emerald and Middlemount Airports on Sunday 27 January.  It had earlier arrived from the Gold Coast.

On Tuesday 29 January, Sundyne Cessna 650 Citation VII VH-SSZ visited Moranbah, touching down from Wollongong (Illawarra Regional) Airport.  After about half-an-hour on the ground, VH-SSZ returned to Wollongong late in the afternoon.

Lastly, on Wednesday 30 January, Skypac Aviation Cessna 550 Citation II bizjet VH-FYP was noted on the ground at Emerald Airport, having arrived from Cessnock earlier in the morning. Later in the evening, VH-FYP was noted departed Emerald on return to Cessnock.  Meanwhile, at Clermont Aerodrome on Wednesday 30 January, I was lucky enough to photograph Adelaide-owned but reportedly Toowoomba-operated Light Jets Australia Cessna 525 Citation CJ1 VH-TFW as it was refuelling after touching down from Archerfield.

It later returned to Archerfield, making a spectacular departure just after lunch.

Some Images and News from Flood Hit Bundaberg - Helicopters and RAAF Hercules and C-17A Globemaster at Bundaberg Airport

Over the course of Monday 28 January and Tuesday 29 January, as many as 14 helicopters have been involved in rescuing more than a thousand Bundaberg residents in the city's flood-ravaged North.

Australian Army Sikorsky S-70A-9 Blackhawk helicopters have been operating into the night using night vision equipment.

Other specialised rescue and civilian helicopters - including Emergency Management (EMQ) (State of Queensland) Bell 412EP VH-ESB (pictured below at Gladstone Airport) - have also been involved in the winching operations over Bundaberg.

The locally-based AGL Action Rescue Helicopter, along with Careflight Queensland Bell 412 and Aerospatiale AS.350BA Squirrel choppers have also been involved.  Careflight's pair of LearJet 45 aero-med bizjets VH-CXJ and VH-VVI have also been noted at Bundaberg Airport in support of the evacuation operations.

On Tuesday 29 January, a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Lockheed C-130J-30 Hercules A97-448 was involved with airlifting sick and elderly Bundaberg residents to Brisbane - a photo of A97-448 appears on the Brisbane Airport Blog HERE.

There are also unconfirmed reports that a RAAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III also touched down at Bundaberg Airport late on Tuesday 29 January.

Other interesting visitors to Bundaberg Airport over the last couple of days have included:
- Virgin Australia (Skywest Airlines) ATR 72-600 VH-FVQ - only delivered a couple of days ago!
- Toll Aviation ATR 42-300 VH-TOX
- Queensland Government (State of Queensland) Raytheon Hawker 850XP VH-SGY
- Various Queensland Police Service (Air Wing) aircraft including Cessna 560 Citation Ultra bizjet VH-PSU, Raytheon 1900D VH-PSK, and Cessna 208 Caravan VH-PSY
- Skytrans Airlines Dash-8-100s VH-QQA, VH-QQI, and VH-QQK.

My hat goes off to all the men and women involved in all of the operations in Bundaberg in the wake of what is the worst flooding in Bundaberg ever.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Qantas Airways Boeing B737-800 VH-VXE Diverts to Rockhampton Airport with Pressurisation Probelm - UPDATED!!

Qantas Airways flight QF974 flying from Brisbane to Townsville, has been forced to divert to Rockhampton Airport on Tuesday 29 January.  The aircraft involved was one of the airlines' Boeing 737-800, registered VH-VXE.

Initial reports suggested that there was a cabin depressurisation, with oxygen masks being deployed   Flight tracking website Flightaware shows estimations of the aircraft's flight track, and clearly shows a rapid descent from 38000 feet to 10000 feet, which is a normal procedure during a loss of cabin pressure.


A Qantas spokesperson released a statement about 5.30pm stating that “During the flight the crew detected that the aircraft was not maintaining its normal cabin pressure, (and that) in line with standard procedure, the Captain initiated a descent to 10,000 feet.”

The spokesperson said the aircraft landed safely in Rockhampton at about 3.30pm and engineers were examining the aircraft.

A replacement aircraft - sistership VH-VZZ - was noted arriving into Rockhampton at about 8.30pm on Tuesday 29 January.  It was expected to depart on the continuation of QF974 later in the evening.

Passengers were calm throughout the descent and there were no reports of anyone on board, including crew, suffering any adverse effects,” the spokesperson said.

Qantas has reported this incident to CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) and the ATSB (Australian Transport Safety Bureau), and will work with Boeing to investigate the cause."

All photos taken by IAD  ©

Monday, January 28, 2013

Gladstone Airport on Sunday - Helicopter Action - Queensland Government Bizjet - Alliance Fokker F-100

A very busy day at Gladstone Airport on Sunday 27 January with multiple - and mostly - QantasLink arrivals - both Dash-8 and Boeing B717-200 aircraft - but also an Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 touching down twice, and also a mix of smaller charter aircraft and helicopter movements.

As mentioned below, QantasLink (Cobham Aviation) Boeing B717-200 VH-NXG was forced to divert to Gladstone Airport while operating the QJE1730 service from Brisbane to Rockhampton.  VH-NXG reportedly circled Rockhampton for some time, and eventually landed at Gladstone.

Soon after, another B717-200 in the form of VH-NXI touched down, and as Jamie C's photos show, it joined VH-NXG on the lower apron at Gladstone Airport.  Quite rare to see two B717-200s on the ground at once.

Eventually, VH-NXG departed Gladstone for Brisbane.

Also on the ground was QantasLink Dash-8-Q300 VH-TQZ.  It was photographed later departing for Brisbane as QLK2301.

Sister-ship VH-TQM was also spotted departing Gladstone for Rockhampton as QLK2308.

B717-200 VH-NXI was also captured departing by Jamie C - some very spectacular photos!

QantasLink also utilised Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 VH-XWT on the Brisbane to Gladstone run on Sunday 27 January.  VH-XWT is photographed shortly after arriving at Gladstone as QLK2342.

VH-XWT later departed to Brisbane as QLK2343, however, due to the poor weather at Brisbane, it pretty much flew straight back to Gladstone, and Jamie C photographed VH-XWT shortly after it touched down at Gladstone for the second time in the afternoon!

Later, VH-XWT again departed Gladstone for Brisbane as QLK2343, with it successfully landing in Brisbane in the evening.

There were plenty of other movements at Gladstone Airport on Sunday 27 January that kept Jamie busy - and he managed to capture some fantastic images of most of the many and varied light and helicopter visitors during the afternoon.

The Queensland Government (State of Queensland) Raytheon Hawker 850XP bizjet VH-SGY is pictured shortly after arrival from Brisbane.  As night fell, VH-SGY returned to Brisbane.  

Advance Aviation Piper PA-31 VH-FWJ arrived.

Hervey Bay-based Cessna 402A VH-RDZ of Aero Commute Australia touched down at Gladstone from Hervey Bay.  It is pictured below departing back to Hervey Bay, however information suggests that VH-RDZ has been very hard-working over the last couple of days, flying up and down the Queensland coast, no doubt in support of the flood relief operation underway in many Queensland coastal towns and cities.

Lastly, Jamie spotted no-less than seven helicopters that popped into Gladstone Airport during the afternoon of Sunday 27 January.  Most of these choppers were providing support flights to the nearby flooded regions in Central Queensland.

Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) (State of Queensland) Bell 412EP VH-ESB was spotted by Jamie departing on a sortie.  VH-ESB is based in Townsville, and was also noted at Rockhampton Airport, before finishing the day at Bundaberg Airport.  (Incidentally, VH-ESB featured prominently in news bulletins on Monday 28 January performing various winching recoveries in flood-devastated Bundaberg.)

The Rockhampton-based Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service Sikorsky S-76A VH-JRD was spotted on the Gladstone Airport apron.

Smart looking Eurocopter EC120B VH-VTG popped in - this chopper is operated by Avalon Aviation - their EC130B VH-EHY was spotted at Rockhampton (see below).

Whitsunday Helicopter's Agusta A109E VH-TRW was photographed at Gladstone Airport.  VH-TRW has been busy over the last couple of days, with it being noted at Rockhampton, Emerald, and Biloela / Thangool Airports.

Reid Heliwork Bell 206L-3 VH-CWQ was back at Gladstone Airport performing various sorties for the second day straight.

Lastly, local helicopters, Aerospatiale AS.355F1 VH-ZWB and Eurocopter EC135P2 VH-ZGZ, were also photographed by Jamie on this busy afternoon.

As can be seen in the photos above, the weather in Gladstone is on the improve, however with over 800mm of rain that fell over Gladstone and the surrounding areas over the last few days, the flood crisis on some parts continues.  We wish residents well.

All photos taken by Jamie C  ©