Sunday, April 30, 2017

Virgin Australia Embraer E-190 VH-ZPC Departs Australia For Good - Plus Announcement of Withdrawal of ATR 72-500 Turboprops

On Wednesday 26 April, Virgin Australia Embraer E-190 VH-ZPC looked to have departed Australia for good, flying out of Brisbane for Apia (Tonga) as VOZ9901.  It has since continued to Honolulu (Hawaii), Van Nuys (California) and Nashville (Tennessee) for post-lease maintenance.

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VH-ZPC is now the eleventh Virgin Australia E-190 that has been withdrawn from the fleet (for now) and be transferred to other operators or storage.  It follows VH-ZPD, VH-ZPF, VH-ZPE, VH-ZPG, VH-ZPJ, VH-ZPL, VH-ZPB, VH-ZPA, VH-ZPM and VH-ZPI whch have all departed Australia since February 2016.

VH-ZPC was the third of eleven new aircraft ordered by Virgin Blue in 2006 and it was delivered to Brisbane in May 2008.  It was noted to be wearing the name 'Jilla-Blue'.

VH-ZPC at Mackay Airport in 2012  (File photo)

With the airline rebranded in 2011, VH-ZPC was repainted into Virgin Australia livery and was also renamed 'Cabarita Beach'.

VH-ZPC lands at Rockhampton Airport in 2014  (File photo)

Of interest, VH-ZPC was withdrawn from service in early March and the aircraft's final flight into Central Queensland was over the course of Wednesday 8 March and Thursday 9 March when it operated the VOZ617/600 late afternoon and early morning service to Mackay Airport from Brisbane and back.

Meanwhile, Australian Aviation magazine reported last week that Virgin Australia plans to consolidate its turboprop operations to routes within the ACT, New South Wales and Victoria as it prepares to reduce the number of ATRs in the fleet from 14 to six.  As a result, the airline will end ATR 72 turboprop operations in Queensland.

In the 'Traffic' column in the May edition of Australian Aviation magazine, it is reported that all six ATR 72-500s - VH-FVH, VH-FVI, VH-FVL, VH-FVM, VH-FVU and VH-FVX - along with two ATR 72-600s - will be withdrawn with the process reportedly starting in July.

Currently, Virgin Australia operates ATR 72s from Brisbane to Central Queensland destinations including Moranbah, Gladstone, Bundaberg and Rockhampton, as well as to Port Macquarie in New South Wales.

The downturn in the resources sector has led to a a drop in demand on a number of these Central Queensland regional routes.

The decision to reduce Virgin’s ATR fleet, as well as its Embraer E190 regional jet fleet, was first announced in June 2016.

You can read more at:

Photos taken by 'IAD'  ©

And a Couple of Local Bizjets Come and Go at Hamilton Island Airport

It's been a pretty quiet week over on Hamilton Island Airport, however a pair of Australian-based bizjets were noted paying the Great Barrier Reef Airport a visit.

On Monday 24 April, Marcplan Charter Gulfstream G-IV-X (G450) VH-MBP was noted arriving at Hamo.  It remained parked there until Saturday 29 April when it departed and looked to be heading towards Adelaide.

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Sadly, its exact movements are not known.

And touching down at Hamilton Island Airport on Sunday 30 April was Aeromil Pacific / Flight Options (Australia) Cessna 650 Citation III bizjet VH-SPJ.  It touched down from Sydney and looks to be spending at least the night.

Meanwhile, a few interesting light General Aviation (GA) aircraft have also been noted visiting Hamilton Island Airport over the last few days including Flight-Tech Aviation (Townsville Airlines) Beech B200 King Air VH-WZN which made a late evening visit from and back to its Cairns base on Sunday 30 April.

While touching down at Hamo from Archerfield on Saturday 29 April was Brisbane-based Cessna 340 VH-LKM.  It looks due to return there on Monday 1 May.

Finally, over the last week, both of Regional Air's Piper PA-31-350 VH-RKD and Gippaero GA-8 Airvan VH-OHN continue to operate private charter flights into Hamilton Island Airport from their Mackay Airport base.  Regional Air is CQ's newest airline and they offer great special fares for locals to escape to the Whitsundays out of Mackay - check out their website:

Photo taken by Kevin Patroni  ©

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) (Cobham SAR Services Pty Ltd) Bombardier Challenger 604 Bizjet VH-XNE "Rescue 330" at Mackay Airport

Making a rare visit to Mackay Airport during the afternoon on Saturday 29 April was Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) (Cobham SAR Services Pty Ltd) Bombardier CL-600-2B16 Challenger 604 bizjet VH-XNE.

It looked to call into Mackay Airport at the completion of a flight from Cairns which lasted more than five-hours.  It is possible that it was 'tasked' to the area as flight-tracking websites suggest that its arrival into Mackay Airport was a 'diversion' from an originally planned landing back at Cairns.

After taking on fuel, VH-XNE was then heard to be using the radio callsign of "Rescue 330" and it departed Mackay Airport and headed out to a position to the North-East of Mackay.

At the completion of its task, VH-XNE "Rescue 330" continued back to Cairns.

It is interesting to note that VH-XNE is usually based at Perth Airport in Western Australia and flew across to Cairns direct from Perth on Wednesday 26 April.

Fellow AMSA Challenger 604 bizjet VH-XND "Rescue 660" is usually based at Cairns Airport and completed a sortie also on Wednesday 26 April but hasn't flown since.

UPDATE!  VH-XND returned to the air out of Cairns on Monday 1 May completing a flight from Cairns to Kununurra (Western Australia) while VH-XNE returned to Perth directly from Cairns also on Monday 1 May.

As we've previously reported, Cobham SAR Services Pty Ltd (Cobham) was contracted in 2014 to provide a new new search and rescue agreement for AMSA using four Bombardier Challenger CL-604 bizjets from late 2016 for a period of 12 years.  Presently, VH-XND and VH-XNE are joined by VH-XNF which is based at Melbourne (Essendon) Airport in Victoria.  VH-XNC seems to be an 'operational spare' and its exact location is unknown - maybe Perth?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Queensland Government Hawker 850XP Bizjet VH-SGY at Gladstone and Rockhampton Airports

On Saturday 29 April, the Queensland Government (State of Queensland) Airwing Raytheon Hawker 850XP bizjet VH-SGY was noted back in Central Queensland, reportedly completing a training flight which saw visit both Gladstone and Rockhampton Airports.

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It flew North from Brisbane and landed at Gladstone Airport for a short time before continuing to Rocky.  From Rocky, VH-SGY returned to Brisbane.

UPDATE!  VH-SGY was back in the air on Sunday 30 April, departing Brisbane for Townsville before heading across to Charters Towers Aerodrome where it looks to be staying for the night.

Photo taken by Don Williams  ©

Mitchell Water Cessna 525 Citation M2 Bizjet VH-WMY Calls into Roma Airport

On Thursday 27 April, Mitchell Water Cessna 525 Citation M2 bizjet VH-WMY was spotted parked at Roma Airport.

VH-WMY had arrived into Roma Airport on Wednesday 26 April at the end of a busy day of flying which saw it depart Melbourne (Essendon) and call into Port Lincoln, Adelaide and Waikerie (all in South Australia) before it continued to Roma.

On Friday 27 April, VH-WMY departed Roma Airport and returned to South Australia visiting Tumby Bay and Port Lincoln before it returned to Essendon.

Of interest, VH-WMY is shown above parked with the locally-based RACQ Lifeflight Bell 412EP VH-XCI.

All photos taken by 'AC'  ©

Friday, April 28, 2017

Malaysian-based American-registered Cirrus SR22-G3 N238JG Passes Through Emerald Airport - Plus More!

Late on Wednesday 26 April Cirrus SR22-G3 N238JG was spotted parked at Emerald Airport.  It had earlier flown in from Darwin via Burketown.

The Cirrus is being ferried to Australia to allow its owner to use it while they are on a holiday in our great country.  It is usually based in Malaysia and wears an American registration belonging to Hallin Aviation Inc. of Delaware (USA).

N238JG had arrived into Australia via Darwin from Kupang (Indonesia) on Tuesday 25 April.

Also paying Emerald Airport a visit late on Wednesday 26 April was SFC Farming (of Goondiwindi) Raytheon B200 King Air VH-TXT which arrived from Toowoomba via Goondiwindi and later departed to the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport.

And on Tuesday 25 April, Tasfast Air Freight (of Victoria) Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Cheiftan VH-TBJ called into Emerald Airport from Moree (New South Wales).  After taking on fuel, it continued to Cairns where it looks to have since completed a series of brief local flights.

Meanwhile, out at Longreach Airport, Brisbane-based SOCATA TB-20 Trinidad VH-IPF was spotted sitting on the General Aviation (GA) Apron on Thursday 27 April.

It had arrived into Longreach Airport on Wednesday 26 April from Archerfield via Redcliffe and Charleville.  On Thursday 27 April, it flew from Longreach to Barcaldine Airport and back before departing to Emerald Airport and then eventually Archerfield.

While Jericho-based Beech 35-B33 Debonair VH-PUP was spotted parked also on the Longreach Airport GA Apron but on Friday 28 April.

Thanks to the local plane spotters for their help with this post!

All photos taken by 'AC'  ©

Some GA Movements Also at Rockhampton Airport over this week

There's been a few interesting comings and goings from the General Aviation (GA) Apron at Rockhampton Airport over the last week...

On Friday 28 April Eclipse EA500 bizjet N465DG departed Rockhampton Airport for Armidale and then Tamworth in New South Wales.  

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The smart little bizjet - which I believe is based in New South Wales - arrived into Rocky from Tamworth via Armidale last Thursday 20 April.

As mentioned below, N465DG was joined on the GA Apron on Wednesday 26 April as Special Mining Services / Flight Options (Australia) Cessna 510 Citation Mustang bizjet VH-PWX visited from Brisbane.

Also arriving on Wednesday 26 April was the Queensland Government (State of Queensland) Raytheon B300 Super King Air VH-SGQ.  After overnighting, it departed back to Brisbane on Thursday 27 April.

Also on Thursday 27 April, Vectra Holdings (New South Wales) New Piper PA-28-181 VH-BHK arrived from Archerfield. It later departed to Mackay.  Then on Friday 28 April, VH-BHK departed Mackay for Emerald Airport before returning to Archerfield.

After arriving at Rockhampton Airport on Tuesday 25 April, New South Wales-based Cessna 210 VH-ZID completed local survey flights around Rocky and Capricorn Coast on Wednesday 26 April and again on Thursday 27 April before continuing to Mackay Airport.  It looked to complete an aerial survey flight around Mackay on Friday 28 April before it then continued to Townsville.

UPDATE!  VH-ZID was noted heading back South from Townsville on Saturday 29 April, calling into Mackay and Rockhampton Airports before finishing the day at Bundaberg Airport.

Other aerial survey aircraft spotted at Rockhampton Airport included  Bayswater Road / Australian Aerial Mapping (AAM) Reims F406 VH-EYQ.  Sadly its exact movements are not known.

And Australasian Jet (AusJet) Cessna 206 VH-KPG is back at Rockhampton Airport completing aerial survey flights around the local area after being spotted also at Rocky in the middle of March.

VH-KPG has been busy with it also noted completing flights out of Mackay and Clermont Airports in recent weeks.

Finally, Biloela-registered Bell Helicopter Textron 206B VH-SIJ was spotted at Rockhampton Airport recently.

While registered locally, the Jetranger is reportedly operated by Rotorwing Helicopters at Mount Martha in Victoria.  It has also recently spent time operating for Machjet / McDermott Aviation.

Sincere thanks to the local plane spotters for their help compiling this post!

Photos taken by Kayanne Hardsman and Trevor Hardsman  ©

Babcock Mission Critical Services Australasia Bell 412EP VH-VAU Operating for Capricorn Rescue Helicopter Service at Rockhampton Airport

Over the course of this week, the Babcock Mission Critical Services Australasia (ex Australian Helicopters) Bell 412EP helicopter VH-VAU has been noted operating on its own out of Rockhampton Airport for the Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service (CHRS) as "Rescue 300".  In fact, as these recent photos show, VH-VAU has now had CHRS titles and sponsor decals applied to its fuselage.

The 'usual' "Rescue 300" - fellow Babcock Mission Critical Services Australasia Bell 412EP helicopter VH-EPR - seems to be away from Rockhampton for the time being, perhaps at Coffs Harbour (New South Wales) for planned maintenance.

Meanwhile, during the recent flooding in Rockhampton, fellow Babcock Mission Critical Services Australasia Bell 412 helicopter VH-LSY flew South from Mackay and was also operated by the CHRS, often flying as "Rescue 310".

On Tuesday 25 April, VH-LSY was noted departing Rockhampton Airport for Mackay Airport where it appears to have taken up operations again with the locally-based Central Queensland Rescue Helicopter Service (CQ Rescue) as "Rescue 422".

CQ Rescue also operates Bell 412EP helicopter VH-CQJ as "Rescue 412".

It has also been noted that the Townsville-based Queensland Government (QGAir) Rescue Bell 412 VH-ESD "Rescue 521" has completed med-evac flights to Mackay and at Proserpine Hospitals over the course of the last couple of days.

All photos taken by Trevor Hardsman  ©

Thursday, April 27, 2017

RAAF C-17 Globemaster A41-208 & E-7A Wedgetail A30-004 - Plus Army MRH-90 A40-025 - All at Rockhampton Airport

A triple treat of Australian Defence Force (ADF) aircraft and helicopters were spotted at and around Rockhampton Airport on Thursday 27 April.

Firstly, Australian Army NH Industries MRH-90 Multi-Role Helicopter A40-025 arrived into Rocky from Townsville as "Destrier 25".

After the MRH-90 was refuelled - and the crew had lunch! - A40-025 departed to Brisbane.

Around the same time, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing C-17A Globemaster III A41-208 again visited Rockhampton Airport - the third time in the skies over Rocky this week.

On Thursday 27 April, A41-208 flew back South from Townsville via Mackay where it looked to complete some airwork before continuing South and completing a spectacular holding pattern over Rockhampton Airport.  It eventually landed on Runway 15 and parked at the Southern end of the parking apron.

Soon after, A41-208 departed for RAAF Base Amberley.  On this occasion, the Globemaster, which is operated by the RAAF's 36 Squadron at Amberley, was flying as "Stallion 43".

Finally, just as local plane spotters thought the action had finished, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing B737-7ES / E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft A30-004 completed a pair of low overshoot missed approaches at Rockhampton Airport after flying in from the South.

After completing its second missed approach, A30-004 - flying as "Wedgetail 03" - departed back down to the South.

Sincere thanks to the Rockhampton plane spotters for sending through these great photos!

Photos taken by Trevor Hardsman, Kayanne Hardsman and Travis Whiting  ©