Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Falconair (NSW) Dassault Falcon 20F-5 Bizjet VH-PNY Pops into Bundaberg Airport Twice

On Tuesday 31 July, Falconair (NSW) Dassault Falcon 20F-5 bizjet VH-PNY was noted making an early arrival into Bundaberg Airport from Sydney.  A short while later, it departed to Brisbane.

VH-PNY at Brisbane Airport recently  (File photo)

Then, as the sun was setting, VH-PNY returned to Bundaberg Airport from Brisbane.  It then returned to Sydney.

Photo taken by Lloyd Fox  ©

Marcplan Charter Gulfstream G-IV-X (G450) Bizjet VH-MBP Pops into Hamilton Island Airport - Plus More!

On Tuesday 31 July, Marcplan Charter Gulfstream G-IV-X (G450) bizjet VH-MBP was noted arriving into Hamilton Island Airport from the South-East.  It departed a short time later again for the South.

File photo

Also on Tuesday 31 July, Linfox Express Charter / Air National Australia Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 605 VH-LEF was noted departing Hamilton Island Airport for Essendon.  It had arrived from Sydney last Thursday 26 July.

Back on the mainland and down the road at Mackay Airport, also on Tuesday 31 July, Embraer EMB-550 Legacy 500 bizjet N142GZ arrived back from Hobart after departing to there last Wednesday 25 July.

Meanwhile, late on Monday 30 July, Cirrus (Australia) Cessna 510 Citation Mustang bizjet VH-SQY was noted making a late night arrival into Mackay Airport from its Bankstown base.  It was heard to be using the flight number and callsign of 'AE221' / "Airmed 221" suggesting that it was completing a medical evacuation flight.  VH-SQY later returned to Bankstown.

To find out more about AirMed, visit their website at:  http://airmed.com.au/

Photo taken by Kevin Patroni  ©

Toll Freight Aviation ATR 42-300F VH-TOQ Surprise Visit to Mackay Airport

A surprise visitor to Mackay Airport early on Tuesday 31 July with Toll Freight Aviation ATR 42-300F VH-TOQ arriving from Brisbane while operating as TFX6.  The flight usually now bypasses Mackay Airport and continues direct to Townsville.

After an hour on the ground, VH-TOQ departed Mackay Airport and indeed continued to Townsville again as TFX6.

The exact reason for the 'diversion' is unclear but it appears that no 'usual' Toll Freight Metro aircraft arrived into Mackay Airport early on Tuesday 31 July so the visit may well have been planned!

Photo taken by 'JM'  ©

Monday, July 30, 2018

QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 VH-QOX Pops into CQ Airports in New Colours - Plus More Photos of VH-QOV at Mackay Airport Also in New Colours!

On Saturday 28 July, QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 VH-QOX emerged from the Flying Colours paint-shop at Townsville and was almost immediately noted visiting Central Queensland Airports wearing its new 'Silver-Roo' colour scheme.

On Sunday 29 July, VH-QOX made multiple visits to CQ Airports - it was initially noted visiting Mackay Airport from Cairns and Townsville as QLK2305 before it departed to Brisbane as QLK2513.  It was then spotted operating into Longreach Airport from and back to Brisbane as QLK2534/2535.  VH-QOX then flew into Rockhampton Airport as QLK2370 where it spent the night.

Then, on Monday 30 July, VH-QOX was spotted back at Mackay Airport where it made two visits over the course of the day.

As shown, VH-QOX continues to wear its original name of 'Cradle Coast'.

Meanwhile, also on Monday 30 July, the previous QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 to emerge from the paint-shop - VH-QOV - was also spotted visiting Mackay Airport looking resplendent in it's new colours.

As we reported previously, VH-QOV emerged from the Flying Colours paint-shop at Townsville Airport earlier in the month, joining eight other Dash-8-Q400s in the new and updated Qantas livery and kangaroo logo, which was introduced to coincide with the introduction the Boeing B787 Dreamliner into service with the airline late last year.  VH-QOV was also adorned with the name 'Ballarat' after being previously un-named.

Finally, at the time of writing, it is unclear which Dash-8-Q400 is now in the paint-shop in Townsville.  While it has also been interesting to note that Dash-8-Q400 VH-QOJ continues to be on the ground at Tamworth in New South Wales - perhaps it too has entered the maintenance hangar / paint-shop??!!

UPDATE! We have since seen that VH-QOJ was at Tamworth for maintenance ONLY - it was re-painted at Townsville during September.

UPDATE!  We have since learned that QantasLink Dash-8-200 VH-TQX was in the paint-shop at Townsville, arriving from Sydney via Brisbane on Saturday 28 July.

Photos taken by Greg Weir and 'JM'  ©

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The RAAF’s Major Exercise Pitch Black 2018 Set to Kick off in ‘The Top End’

The skies above Australia's 'Top End' will come alive from Monday as the Royal Australian Air Force's Exercise Pitch Black kicks off.

Exercise Pitch Black is the biennial three week multi-national large force employment exercise conducted from RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal.  Exercise Pitch Black 2018 will be held from Friday 27 July to Friday 17 August 2018.

Exercises such as Pitch Black are pivotal to ensuring the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) remains ready to respond whenever the Australian Government requires. The training and integration of forces that occurs during this exercise directly supports the RAAF’s ability to conduct operations.

Exercise Pitch Black features a range of realistic, simulated threats which can be found in a modern battle-space environment and is an opportunity to test and improve their force integration, utilising one of the largest training airspace areas in the world - Bradshaw Field Training Area and Delamere Air Weapons Range - in the Northern Territory.

The exercise will host up to 4000 personnel and up to 140 aircraft from around the globe with aircraft and personnel from Australia, Canada, France (New Caledonia), Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, The Philippines, Singapore, Sweden and the United States of America arriving into Darwin and Tindal over the course of this week.

Flying activities will take place during the day along with some night flying during the latter part of the Exercise.

Activities such as Exercise Pitch Black recognises the strong relationship Australia has with its participant nations and the high value it places on regional security and fostering closer ties throughout the Asia Pacific region.

To thank the Darwin community for their co-operation during the Exercise, the RAAF hosts a pair of free community events which will be held at the beginning of August.  The Ex Pitch Black 2018 Flypast and Handling Display - which has been rumoured to be bigger and better than ever - will be held at sunset on Thursday 2 August at the stunning Mindil Beach in Darwin, while the Ex Pitch Black 2018 Open Day will be held on Saturday 4 August from 9am to 4pm at RAAF Base Darwin.

Find out more at the Exercise Pitch Black 2018 webpage:  https://www.airforce.gov.au/exercises/pitch-black

Sincere thanks to local plane spotter Sid M for allowing us to share his great photos!

All photos taken by Sid Mitchell  ©

LifeFlight (Aeromed) Bombardier Challenger 604 Bizjet VH-URR "Ambulance 604" Pops into Rockhampton Airport

On Friday 27 July, LifeFlight (Aeromed) Bombardier Challenger 604 bizjet VH-URR "Ambulance 604" was spotted on the ground at Rockhampton Airport.  It had earlier flown in from Brisbane.

After a couple of hours on the ground, VH-URR departed Rockhampton Airport for Brisbane.

I presume it was completing a medical evacuation flight.

Sincere thanks to local plane spotter 'IAD' for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos!

All photos taken by 'IAD'  ©

Friday, July 27, 2018

What Could Have Been... With JetGo Australia Airlines in Voluntary Administration Virgin Australia E-190 VH-ZPT (in JetGo Colours) Passes Back Through Australia Heading for Storage

In June, JetGo Australia Airlines was placed in voluntary administration and suspended all regular public transport (RPT) flights.  Closed Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) charter flights continued for a short time although these have since also ceased.

The move to appoint voluntary administrators comes after Dubbo Regional Council took legal action in the NSW Supreme Court to recoup what it said were unpaid debts totalling some $270,000.

JetGo began life in 2012 primarily as a FIFO and general charter flight operator.  In 2014, it applied for and was granted from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) a high capacity jet Regular Passenger Transport (RPT) air operator’s certificate (AOC), allowing it to commence scheduled airline services.

We even had the pleasure of flying on the inaugural Townsville to Rockhampton and the Gold Coast and return RPT flight in 2015 - read the Trip Report HERE!

Its RPT network consisted of nine destinations in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland - including Rockhampton in Central Queensland - which were all served with an all-Embraer fleet of 37-seat ERJ-135LR and 44-seat ERJ-140LR regional jets.

The JetGo route map from its website  (https://jetgo.com/)

A pair of 50-seat ERJ-145LR aircraft were utilised in FIFO charter flights - although only one actually entered service with the airline.  At one point JetGo operating FIFO charter flights to Middlemount Aerodrome and Emerald Airport.

JetGo was also planning to launch international flights later in 2018 with larger Embraer E-190s as part of a Brisbane-Karratha-Singapore routing.  The ex-Virgin Australia aircraft - VH-ZPT and VH-ZPH - were due to be prepared for service in the Philippines before returning to Australia.

It was sad to see their first planned Embraer E-190 aircraft VH-ZPT pass through Australia recently while it completed a ferry flight from Clark International Airport in the Philippines to Nashville in the USA.

The ex-Virgin Australia aircraft was noted using the Virgin Australia flight number and callisign VOZ9948 / “Velocity 9948” and was spotted at Darwin in the Northern Territory after arriving form Clark on Monday 16 July.  It then continued to Cairns where it took off for Nadi, Fiji on Wednesday 18 July, but returned with a mechanical issue.  It eventually made it to Nadi on Thursday 19 July and has since continued to Nashville, arriving on Wednesday 25 July.

Meanwhile, the fates of their other five operational aircraft are believed to be as follows:

ERJ-135LRs VH-JGB and VH-JZG:  VH-JGB flew into Sydney from Brisbane on Friday 22 June, while VH-JZG flew into Sydney also from Brisbane back on Sunday 25 March.

Of interest, I believe VH-JGB operated the final flight into Rockhampton Airport on Thursday 31 May when it operated as JG75 from the Gold Coast to Rocky and then Townsville.

ERJ-140LRs VH-ZJE and VH-ZJG:  VH-ZJE appears to have completed the JG70 flight from Rockhampton Airport to Townsville on Monday 26 March, while VH-ZJG completed the JG39 flight from Wagga Wagga (New South Wales) to Brisbane on Wednesday 18 April.

Finally, ERJ-145LR VH-JGR completed the JG21/22 FIFO charter flight from Townsville to Osborne Mine and back on Tuesday 5 June before eventually ferrying to Cairns on Friday 13 July.

Fellow ERJ-145LR, VH-JGK, was never registered and remained parked at Brisbane Airport wearing its American registration marking of N14923.

A sad end...

Photos taken by Kayanne Hardsman, Sid Mitchell, Lloyd Fox and Aaron Coghill  ©

Piaggio P-180 Avanti II M-ETAL Calls into Bundaberg Airport

On Friday 27 July, Isle of Man-registered Piaggio P-180 Avanti II M-ETAL was noted visiting Bundaberg Airport.  The light corporate twin-turboprop aircraft arrived from Coffs Harbour in New South Wales.

M-ETAL at Adelaide Airport this month  (File photo)

After a couple of hours on the ground, M-ETAL departed to Sydney.

Of interest, the Piaggio P-180 Avanti is an Italian executive transport aircraft with twin-turboprop engines mounted in pusher configuration.  It seats up to nine people in a pressurised cabin, and may be flown by one or two pilots. The design is of three-surface configuration, having both a small forward wing and a conventional tailplane as well as its main wing, with the main wing spars passing behind the passenger cabin area.

M-ETAL has spent at least the last month in Australia having arrived from Europe into Darwin on Thursday 21 June.  Since then, it appears to have been based at Coffs Harbour and has been noted visiting a number of airports around Australia.

UPDATE!  On Monday 30 July, M-ETAL returned to Bundaberg Airport, arriving back from Sydney and then later departing to Coffs Harbour.

What a great visitor to CQ!

Photo taken by Tony Haynes  ©

RAAF Search and Rescue (CHC Helicopters) Sikorsky S-76A VH-HRP "Choppa 22" Calls into Charleville and Longreach Airports

On Friday 27 July, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Search and Rescue (CHC Helicopters) Sikorsky S-76A VH-HRP was noted visiting a couple of Central Queensland Airports while heading to the Northern Territory.  

Local plane spotters Greg W and Calen H were both on hand at Longreach Airport as it arrived from Charleville Airport.

The Sikorsky, which is operated for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in a Search and Rescue (SAR) role by CHC Helicopters / Lloyd Helicopters, earlier departed RAAF Base Williamtown (Newcastle) for Moree before completing fuel stops at Charleville and Longreach Airports.  It then continued to Mount Isa and is due to continue to Macarthur River Mine on Saturday 27 July and then possibly further.

I believe it is heading to the Northern Territory to provide support for the upcoming joint Military Exercise Pitch Black 2018 which will kick off at both RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal (Katherine) in the coming days.

UPDATE!  Indeed, on Saturday 27 July, VH-HRP "Choppa 22" continued to Darwin where it will be providing a support role during Exercise Pitch Black 2018.

Thanks guys!

Photos taken by Greg Weir and Calen Harvey  ©

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Linfox Express Charter / Air National Australia Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 605 VH-LEF Arrives into Hamilton Island Airport - Plus More!

On Thursday 26 July, Linfox Express Charter / Air National Australia Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 605 VH-LEF was noted arriving into Hamilton Island Airport from Sydney.  It has had a couple of busy days this week flying out and back from its Melbourne (Essendon) base.

VH-LEF arrives into Rockhampton Airport last year  (File photo)

At the time of writing, VH-LEF appears to be staying on Hamo for at least the night.

UPDATE!  On Tuesday 31 July, VH-LEF was noted departing Hamilton Island Airport for Essendon.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday 25 July, Mitchell Water Cessna 525 Citation M2 bizjet VH-WMY was also noted arriving into Hamo once again from its Melbourne (Moorabbin) base.  It also visited Hamilton Island Airport last week.

After staying for the night, on Thursday 26 July, VH-WMY departed Hamilton Island Airport for Essendon before it returned to Moorabbin.

Finally, back on the mainland at Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) Airport, also on Wednesday 25 July, Brisbane-based Bishopp Aviation SOCATA TBM-700 VH-VSV popped in from Archerfield.  It then departed to Mackay Airport before returning to Archerfield.

Photo taken by 'IAD'  ©

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) B737 / E-7A Wedgetail A30-004 Missed Approach at Rockhampton Airport

On Wednesday 25 July, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing B737-7ES / E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft A30-004 was photographed by local plane spotter Kayanne H as it was on final approach to Runway 33 at Rockhampton Airport.  It then completed an overshoot and missed approach.

It appears that the Wedgetail flew up from the South and then returned down that way after completing the missed approach with it last heard to be heading to the Sunshine Coast.  A30-004 was heard using the radio callsign of "Wedgetail 03".

Sincere thanks to Kayanne for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos!

All photos taken by Kayanne Hardsman  ©

Regional Express (REX) SAAB 340B VH-ZRK Pops into Emerald Airport

On Wednesday 25 July, Regional Express (REX) SAAB 340B VH-ZRK was noted making a surprise visit to Emerald Airport on what looked to be a closed charter flight.

File photo

It arrived from Brisbane as RXA9486 and later departed back to the State capital as RXA9487.

It is possible that VH-ZRK operated in place of the now 'usual' Fly Corporate (Corporate Air) / Vee H Aviation SAAB 340B charter flight which has been operating into Emerald Airport each Wednesday.  Corporate Air SAAB 340B+ (WT) VH-VEP was noted completing the 'usual' flight into Emerald Airport from and back to Brisbane late on Tuesday 24 July.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Silver Linings Aviation Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign Bizjet VH-ZEK at Hamilton Island Airport Again - Plus More!

On Tuesday 24 July, Silver Linings Aviation Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign bizjet VH-ZEK was noted visiting Hamilton Island Airport.

File photo

It arrived direct from Bankstown and later departed to the Gold Coast before it returned to Bankstown.

Meanwhile, as mentioned below, on Monday 23 July, the bright and colourful Execujet (Taverners Aviation) Raytheon Hawker 800XP bizjet VH-RIU was noted departing Hamilton Island Airport for Sydney.  It had arrived from Ayers Rock on Friday 20 July.

While back on the mainland at Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) Airport, also on Monday 23 July, LifeFlight (Aeromed) LearJet 45 bizjet VH-CXJ "Ambulance 452" popped in very briefly while on a flight from Townsville to Brisbane.

And as mentioned, over the weekend on Sunday 22 July, Gulf Coast Aviation Cessna 510 Citation Mustang bizjet VH-KXM popped into Longreach Airport while flying from Bankstown to Vanrook Station, while on Saturday 21 July, locally-based Embraer EMB-550 Legacy 500 bizjet N142GZ returned to Mackay Airport after spending the previous night at Townsville.

UPDATE!  On Wednesday 25 July, N142GZ departed Mackay Airport for Hobart in Tasmania.

Finally, not quite corporate bizjets, but also on Tuesday 24 July, a pair of Super King Air turboprops in the form of the Queensland Government Airwing (State of Queensland) Raytheon B300 VH-SGQ and FKG Air (Redjet Aviation) Hawker Beechcraft B200GT VH-FKB, were both noted visiting Rockhampton Airport.

Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Crash Victims Remembered Today

The five victims of Queensland's worst helicopter crash will be remembered today on the anniversary of the tragedy.

In the early hours of 24 July 2000, Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service (CHRS) Bell 206 VH-FFI was operating a rescue flight, taking a sick five-year-old boy to hospital. The helicopter crashed in darkness and heavy fog, in a field near Marlborough in Central Queensland. The boy, his mum, and three crew lost their lives in the crash.

The CHRS chopper had flown to pick up the five-year-old boy with breathing problems from a remote property northwest of Rockhampton.

In 2003, an inquest found low fuel was to blame for the crash and heavy fog had been a significant factor.

File photo taken by Phil M  ©

Pictured above is the Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service's current chopper - Babcock Mission Critical Services Australasia (ex Australian Helicopters) operated Bell 412EP VH-EPR - departing from the Service's Rockhampton Airport base as "Rescue 300".

Although, it should noted that in recent times, fellow Babcock Bell 412EP helicopter VH-VAU has taken over operating out of Rocky as "Rescue 300" while VH-EPR has been undergoing maintenance interstate.

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Pair of Australian Army NH Industries MRH-90 Multi-Role Helicopters A40-030 & A40-020 Pop into Longreach Airport

Late on Monday 23 July, a pair of Australian Army NH Industries MRH-90 Multi-Role Helicopters - identified as A40-030 and A40-020 - were noted departing Longreach Airport.  Both MRH-90s headed to their home base at Townsville.

A40-030 at Rockhampton Airport recently  (File photo)

It appears that A40-030 was using the radio callsign of "Warhorse 241", while A40-020 was "Warhorse 247".

Photo taken by Scott Harris  ©

Both Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing B737-700(BBJ) 34 Squadron VIP Aircraft Pop into CQ Airports

A couple of nice surprise arrivals into Central Queensland Airports over the weekend with both Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing B737-700(BBJ) 34 Squadron VIP transport aircraft paying a visit.

On Saturday 21 July, A36-001 was noted arriving into Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast) Airport from Brisbane as "Consort 49".  After some time on the ground, it departed to Townsville.

While not confirmed, it was reported that A36-001 brought Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to the Fraser Coast for a series of engagements.

Meanwhile, later on Saturday 21 July, fellow RAAF BBJ A36-002 was noted arriving into Rockhampton Airport as "Wisdom 71" from Wagga Wagga in New South Wales.  It was reported that it brought Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to town for a series of engagements.

A36-002 spent the night at Rockhampton Airport and departed to Gladstone Airport during the afternoon on Sunday 22 July.  Local plane spotter Anthony S was on hand and captured some great photos as it touched down after completing the short hop from Rocky.

After taking on fuel, A36-002 was then noted departed after dark to Devonport in Tasmania.

Sincere thanks to Anthony S for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos!

All photos taken by Anthony Schulz  ©