Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Air New Zealand Airbus A320 ZK-OJA ANZ805 Diverts to Rockhampton Airport from Christchurch due Storms in Brisbane

Certainly a surprise arrival into Rockhampton Airport late on Wednesday 30 November was Air New Zealand Airbus A320-200 ZK-OJA.  It was operating as ANZ805 which is the airline's scheduled service from Christchurch (New Zealand) to Brisbane.

ZK-OJA landed at Rockhampton Airport after being unable to land at and diverting from Brisbane due to a line of serious storms passing through around the time it was due to touch down.  It parked on Gate 1 on the Northern end of the Rocky Airport apron due to a Toll Freight Express Metro III VH-UZP parked on the Southern end.

What is strange is that ZK-OJA flew all the way North to Rockhampton Airport, rather than diverting to the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast, two airports where Air New Zealand actually operate scheduled services into.

Reports suggest though that Rockhampton might actually be the 'usual' diversion airport for Air New Zealand - as well as some other airlines including Qantas, Singapore Airlines and even Emirates Airline.

After being refuelled, ZK-OJA departed to Brisbane, continuing as ANZ805.

Sincere thanks to the local plane spotters that ventured to Rockhampton Airport to capture some great photos of this great surprise visitor!

Photos taken by Ash Burggraaff and Kayanne Hardsman  ©

Jetstar A320 VH-VQP Delayed at Hamilton Island Airport as Report Shows 35% of Jetstar Flights Depart Mackay Airport Late!

On Wednesday 30 November, Jetstar Airways Airbus A320 VH-VQP was noted departing Hamilton Island Airport some five-hours late as JST849 to Sydney.  It had earlier arrived on-time from the Harbour-city as JST846.

What seems to be Jetstar policy is that an engineering issue needs to be 'signed-off' by an engineer and it seems that GSL Aviation Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain was chartered to fly one from Cairns to Hamo and back during the evening  before VH-VQP could depart.

A Jetstar A320 arrives at Mackay Airport  (File photo)

The delay is rather timely as the local Daily Mercury newspaper reported this week that during October this year, the BITRE airline on-time report performance monthly report showed only 65% of Jetstar flights departed Mackay Airport on time.  This figure is some 15% worse than competitors Virgin Australia and Qantas/QantasLink.

Also, 22.4% of Jetstar flights into Mackay Airport failed to arrive on time.

Photo taken by 'AC'  ©

McDermott Aviation / Heli-Lift Australia Bell 214B-1 Big Lifter Helicopter P2-MSA "Helitack 676" at Rockhampton Airport

Another nice large bushfire fighting helicopter was spotted passing through Rockhampton Airport on Wednesday 30 November in the form of McDermott Aviation / Heli-Lift Australia Bell 214B-1 Big Lifter Helicopter P2-MSA "Helitack 676".

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) registered 'Huey' is one of several that McDermott Aviation / Heli-Lift Australia operates around Australia on contract to local bushfire fighting authorities.

P2-MSA was noted to arrive into Rocky from the South and after taking on fuel, it continued North to Mackay Airport.

UPDATE!  P2-MSA was noted departing Townsville Airport for Cairns and then Cooktown on Thursday 1 December.

Meanwhile, also on Wednesday 30 November, fires in the vicinity of (or even within) the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) has seen locally based fixed-wing aircraft depart Rockhampton Airport for operations in the area.  R-Mach Aviation Ayres S2R Turbo Thursh VH-NFF "Bomber 407" was noted completing water-drops while Old Station (at Raglan) based Cessna 182D VH-RDQ has been noted completing reconnaissance flights to the North and South of Rocky as "Firespotter 403".

Sincere thanks to local plane spotters Kayanne H and Trevor H for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos!

Photos taken by Kayanne Hardsman and Trevor Hardsman  ©

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Pair of Cessna Citation Bizjets - VH-MOR & VH-CCJ - Call into Roma Airport

On Tuesday 29 November, a nice pair of Cessna Citation bizjets were noted visiting Roma Airport - with one also heading into Barcaldine Airport.  Brisbane-based Cessna 525A CitationJet2 VH-MOR initially visited Roma Airport from its Archerfield base.  It then returned to Archefield before later heading to Barcaldine Airport and then back to Archerfield once again.

Meanwhile, a short time later, Earth Commodities Cessna 550 Citation Bravo VH-CCJ was also noted visiting Roma Airport, but flying from and back to its Brisbane Airport base.

Finally, as with most days, there were a couple of Super King Air turboprops that called into Roma Airport on various missions.  On Tuesday 29 November, Brescon's recently registered Beech B200 VH-WXB and Sabstall's Beech B200 VH-NME flew from the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport to Roma and back.  While General Aviation Maintenance (GAM) AeroCommander 500-S VH-UJX operated the week-daily freight run into Roma Airport, flying from Brisbane to Dalby, Roma and Charleville before returning in reverse later in the afternoon.

File photos taken by Col  ©

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Look Inside Air New Zealand Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner ZK-NZJ at Rockhampton Airport

During October and November, Air New Zealand Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner ZK-NZJ operated into Rockhampton Airport several times, flying from and to Singapore's Changi Airport in support of the Singapore Armed Force's Exercise Wallaby 2016.

On one visit to Rocky, local plane spotter Travis W was lucky enough to be invited airside and he was able to capture some great photos as ZK-NZJ (MSN: 37966) pulled into Gate 6 and then again as it was being prepared to return to Singapore.

The three-month-old aircraft is currently configured with 18 Business Class seats, 21 Premium Economy Class seats and 263 Economy Class seat.

Travis tells us that ZK-NZJ still had that 'new plane' smell!

Sincere thanks to Travis for taking the time to capture and send through these awesome photos!

All photos taken by Travis Whiting  ©

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tigerair (Tiger Airways Australia) Celebrates 9 Years of Flying - And Has a New Radio Callsign "TiggOz"

Tigerair commenced operating domestic flights in Australia as Tiger Airways Australia on Friday 23 November 2007 when flight TT7402 departed their Melbourne (Tullamarine) base for the Gold Coast.  Since then, the airline has opened a second base in Sydney in July 2012 and a third base in Brisbane in March 2014.

In October 2012, Virgin Australia Holdings purchased 60% of Tiger Airways Australia from parent company Tiger Airways Holdings (Singapore).  In July 2013, the airline re-branded from Tiger Airways to Tigerair and the joint venture between Tiger Airways Holdings and the Virgin Australia Group was launched.  Finally, In October 2014, Virgin Australia purchased the remaining 40% meaning that Tigerair is now a fully owned subsidiary of Virgin Australia Holdings.

The inaugural Tigerair service to Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport

In March 2016, Tigerair announced that will start flying international services from Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide to Bali in Indonesia using three (with a fourth due for delivery as a spare) re-painted and re-configured Boeing B737-800 aircraft obtained from parent company Virgin Australia.

The first Tigerair B737-800 rolls out of the paintshop at Townsville Airport

Currently, Tigerair operates 14 Airbus A320-232 aircraft to 12 destinations around Australia - including Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport from and back to Sydney which was launched in 2014 - and 3 Boeing B737-800 aircraft to Bali in Indonesia.

Over the years, Tigerair / Tiger Airways Australia has also operated services into both Rockhampton and Mackay Airports.  Services to CQ Airports commenced in 2007 with direct flights from and back to Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport.  Services to Rockhampton Airport from and back to Brisbane were then launched in 2010.

Tiger Airways Australia at Rockhampton Airport

During 2010, services to Mackay Airport were temporarily suspended but resumed in late in the year with flights now operating from and back to Melbourne (Avalon) Airport.

Tiger Airways Australia at Mackay Airport

Ultimately though, maintenance issues for their aircraft, rising oil prices, and the closure of Rockhampton Airport due to flooding in early 2011, saw Tigerair / Tiger Airways Australia completely withdraw from both Mackay and Rockhampton during 2011.

In December 2012, and after a massive public campaign, Tigerair (still as Tiger Airways Australia) re-commenced flying into Mackay Airport with services from and back to both Sydney and Melbourne (Tullamarine).  These services were soon ceased but re-instated in 2014.  Eventually, services to Mackay Airport from and back to Melbourne (Tullamarine) remained until September 2015 when Tigerair finally withdrew from the sugar city for good (or for the time being!).  The airline has also never indicated an intention to return to Rockhampton.

The final ever Tigerair service at Mackay Airport (for now?!?!)

Finally, in July this year, Virgin Australia and Tigerair announced that the entire A320 fleet will be replaced with Boeing B737-800s by 2019.

And effective Sunday 30 October, Tigerair changed their callsign from "Go-Cat" to "Tigg-Oz".

Photos taken by Dave  ©

Friday, November 25, 2016

Search for Missing Fishing Trawler Brings Aerorescue (AMSA - Australian Maritime Safety Authority) / Aero Pearl Dornier 328-100 VH-PPJ "Rescue 471" to Rockhampton Airport

On Friday 25 November, Aerorescue (AMSA - Australian Maritime Safety Authority) / Aero Pearl Dornier 328-100 VH-PPJ "Rescue 471" was spotted at Rockhampton Airport returning from an early morning sortie over water in search of a missing fishing trawler.  The search area reportedly stretches from the Capricorn Coast South to the Gold Coast.

VH-PPJ had earlier flown into Rocky from its Cairns base and after taking on fuel, departed out to sea.

After landing back at Rockhampton Airport, the crew of VH-PPJ were heard to suggest that a relieft crew was being flown from Cairns and indeed later on Friday 25 November, McDermott Aviation Group / Machjet International Beech B200 King Air VH-WJK arrived into Rockhampton Airport from Cairns.

Soon after, both VH-WJK and VH-PPJ returned to Cairns.

It is not believed that any other aircraft are involved with the search around the Capricorn Coast region.

Photo taken by 'IAD'  ©

Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign Bizjet VH-VPL Back in Mackay Airport During a Busy Day of Flying

After visiting Mackay Airport earlier in the week, on Friday 25 November, Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign bizjet VH-VPL made what looked to be a surprise visit to Mackay Airport, diverting in from Brisbane while reported flying to the Northern Peninsula Airport at Bamaga in Far North Queensland.

File photo

VH-VPL departed Mackay Airport for Townsville before then continuing to Bamaga.

It then returned South via Townsville and then Rockhampton Airport.  It then looked to continue to Brisbane.

Meanwhile, at Hamilton Island Airport, on Friday 25 November, Shortstop Jet Charter British Aerospace BAe-125-1000B bizjet VH-LMP returned to its Melbourne (Essendon) base.  It had arrived on Wednesday 23 November.

UPDATE!  VH-LMP operated a from Essendon into Hamilton Island Airport and back also on Saturday 26 November.

Mackellar Mining Equipment / Flight Options (Australia) Cessna 560 Citation Ultra Bizjet VH-MMC at Emerald Airport - Plus More!

On Thursday 24 November, Mackellar Mining Equipment / Flight Options (Australia) Cessna 560 Citation Ultra bizjet VH-MMC was spotted parked at Emerald Airport after it had earlier touched down from its Sunshine Coast base.

At the time of writing, it remains parked at Emerald Airport and appears to be staying for the at least the weekend.

Meanwhile as this post is written, late on Friday 25 November, LifeFlight LearJet 45 bizjet VH-CXJ "Ambulance 452" has also called into Emerald Airport during a busy afternoon of flying.  VH-CXJ had earlier departed Townsville for Blackall and Rockhampton before arriving at Emerald.  It then departed to Brisbane before it is due to return to Townsville.

On the lighter side of visitors to Emerald Airport over the last couple of days, Flight One (Services) Cirrus SR22 VH-VGG looked to make its 'usual' visit on Friday 25 November.  And departing Emerald Airport on Friday 25 November after spending the night was Archerfield-based Luxford Aviation (Brisbane) Mooney M20K VH-WNP.

On Thursday 24 November, Wolff Aviation Hawker Beechcraft C90GTi VH-VWG was spotted parked at Emerald Airport soon after it arrived from its Toowoomba base.

Also noted visiting Emerald Airport on Thursday 24 November were The Rockhampton Aero Club's Beech 58 Baron VH-KCN and Vanderfield Pilatus PC-12/47 corporate turbo-prop VH-WPH.

All photos taken by 'AC'  ©

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Alliance Airlines Fokker F-70 VH-JFB Charter Flight into Rockhampton Airport - Plus More Bush Firefighting Aircraft and Helicopters Around

On Thursday 24 November, Alliance Airlines Fokker F-70 VH-JFB was spotted arriving into Rockhampton Airport on what looked to be a closed charter flight as UTY3360 from Brisbane.

As shown, VH-JFB still wears a sticker on its port side promoting the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA).  BCNA works to ensure that Australians affected by breast cancer receive the very best support, information, treatment and care appropriate to their individual needs.  It is the peak national organisation for Australians affected by breast cancer, and consists of a network of more than 100,000 members and 300 Member Groups. More than 90 per cent of their members have had a diagnosis of breast cancer, and the remaining members have had a personal experience with breast cancer through a family member or friend.

They are represented by the 'Pink Lady' silhouette, symbolic of their focus on the women diagnosed with breast cancer and all those around her. See more at:

Meanwhile, after parking on the Southern end of the Rockhampton Airport apron, it noted that several former Rugby League football players disembarked VH-JFB and made their way to two busses to transport them to a series of engagements in the beef capital.

A little later in the afternoon, VH-JFB returned to Brisbane but as UTY3361.

Meanwhile, after arriving the previous day, Toowoomba-based Light Jets Australia Cessna 525 Citation CJ1 bizjet VH-TFW departed Rockhampton Airport for Archerfield also on Thursday 24 November.

Finally, on Thursday 24 November, continuing bush fires in the region saw yet more fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters flying in and out of Rockhampton Airport and surrounds (including Hedlow Airfield) as they battled a series of outbreaks to the East of the city.  

Stirling Helicopters Eurocopter AS.350B2 Squirrel VH-AGL "Firebird 421", Archerfield-based Performance Aero Cessna 337G Super Skymaster VH-JOC "Birddog 402" and R-Mach Aviation Cessna 337G VH-JOE "Birddog 410", along with Kennedy Aviation (Gunnedah) Air Tractor AT-802 VH-XAW "Bomber 277" and R-Mach Aviation Ayres S2R Turbo Thursh VH-NFF "Bomber 407" were all noted fighting the fires.

McDermott Aviation Bell 204B Helicopter VH-OCD "Helitack 416" came up from Gladstone to join in the efforts during the morning. Later in the day, Becker Helicopters Aerospatiale AS.350D Squirrel VH-PIH "Firebird 469" also came up from Gladstone.  Both helicopters returned to Gladstone in the late afternoon.

Thanks to local plane spotter 'IAD' who was at the right place at the right time to capture these photos of the Fokker!

All photos taken by 'IAD'  ©