I had the special privilege of being invited by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jason Ryder to join the JetGo Australia Regular Passenger Transport (RPT) Route Proving Flight from Sydney to Roma on Friday 29 August
JetGo's Embraer ERJ-135LR VH-JGB was tasked with flying the passengers - consisting mostly of JetGo operations staff and representatives from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) - North from a wet and miserable Sydney to the beautiful sun-bathed Western-Downs town of Roma.
The route proving flight was the opportunity for JetGo to demonstrate, and have its written policies and practices assessed, prior to them starting RPT flights out of Sydney in the future. Jason Ryder told me that Roma was only the first destination for RPT flights out of Sydney, with other Central Queensland cities including Bundaberg, Gladstone and Rockhampton all mentioned as possible future candidates for RPT services. He hopes to introduce RPT flights with the ERJ-135s along with the soon-to-be delivered EMB-140 jet aircraft. They actually look and feel like you're riding in a bizjet!
The flight started with us all checking-in and having bags weighed and checked. Boarding passes were issued and VH-JGB was boarded via a bus trip from Terminal 3 at Sydney Airport to the General Aviation (GA) Area.
Once we'd taken our seats (I was in 8C - a window on the right-hand side) CASA staff proceeded to enact several 'scenarios' that were given during the day to assess JetGo's policies and procedures. I was given the scenario of not fastening my seat belt prior to the final check before take-off. As it happens, the passenger in the exit-row behind was given a 'scenario' that he could not assist in an emergency and thus had to be re-seated. He was swapped with me and as a result I was seated in the exit-row for the flight North.
After a short wait for departure out of Sydney, we were airborne off Runway 16R (and captured by Sydney plane spotter Bernie P) and heading North. A snack was about to be served when another 'scenario' of a passenger using a mobile phone in the toilet was acted out.
The flight to Roma was very smooth. It was notable how the view out the window changed as we flew closer to country Queensland - dry and brown - and not a cloud in the sky. We landed on Runway 18 at Roma and back-tracked and parked on the apron.
After landing the JetGo were very accommodating with allowing me to snap a couple of photos inside the Embraer ERJ-135LR both of the cabin - with its 37 seats - and of the flight deck - which both captains agreed was a delight to work in!
A few photos outside the aircraft in Roma as we then had to check-in again for the flight back to Sydney.
Again VH-JGB was loaded - all under CASA scrutiny - and soon we taxied out then backtracked and departed off Runway 18 heading South.
One of the more serious 'scenarios' was then acted out shortly after we received a snack - we were to 'make an emergency diversion and landing at Moree Airport'. We didn't actually divert to Moree - we maintained a steady 37000 feet in the cruise - but the flight attendant and flight crew addressed the passengers as if there was to be a real emergency landing - complete with an emergency brace for landing.
Quite a surreal experience!
After that 'scenario' was completed, it was a pretty uneventful remainder of the flight. We soon after were descending into Sydney, landing on Runway 16L.
VH-JGB was again parked on the GA Apron and we were bussed back to the terminal. Some JetGo staff and CASA officials remained with the aircraft to discuss the flight. The good news - as reported by JetGo later on their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/JetgoAustralia
) - was that they successfully 'passed' the route proving flight with CASA! Well done guys and all the best for the future of your RPT operations! We certainly look forward to seeing you in Central Queensland!
My sincere thanks again to Jason Ryder - CEO of JetGo Australia - for providing me wtih this unique experience which I can share with you all!
Additional photos taken by Bernie Proctor ©