Friday, February 8, 2019

More Great Photos of Pacific Air Express Australia Boeing B757-200F Freighter VH-PQA at Rockhampton Airport Last Week - Plus More!

As we posted last week on Thursday 31 January, Pacific Air Express Australia Boeing B757-225(PCF) Freighter VH-PQA visited Rockhampton Airport on a training flight from and back to its Brisbane base.

Local photographer Russell P was also on hand and very kindly has allowed us to share some of his great photos of the B757 landing and departing as 'PCF22/23' / "Pacific 22/23".

As we've mentioned previously, the Boeing 757-225(PCF) Freighter (MSN 22611) initially landed at Christchurch in New Zealand in March 2018 as N315ST.  It was registered to 'Aerolease' and flew in from Goodyear in Arizona via Phoenix, Honolulu and Apia.

This airframe has had a somewhat varied life, starting out in 1985 with Eastern Air Lines in the USA with whom it operated until 1991 as N522EA.  Following this, it spent time with a number of operators before being converted to a freighter in May 2007.  After flying again with a number of operators, at the conclusion of its time with DHL, it had been in storage at Goodyear since mid-2017.

Of further interest, Pacific Air Express is not a new freight transport company having originally being established in 1993.  The original company was based in Honiara in the Solomon Island but relocated to Brisbane in 1999.  At one point, Pacific Air Express operated cargo services to Honiara, Nauru, Noumea, Port Moresby and Port Vila; as well as general freight charter flights in the South Pacific area.

Pacific Air Express originally started freight operations with a Beech B200 King Air before moving to the jet age by operating Boeing 737-300(QC) 5W-FAX on lease from Polynesian Airlines during 1993.

Pacific Air Express then took delivery of one of their most distinctive aircraft with Boeing 727-281A(F) H4-PAE 'Spirit of Laulasi' joining the airline in 1996.

H4-PAE being prepared for a flight at Brisbane Airport in 1998  (File photo)

In 1999, the B727 was re-registered N214F and ferried to the USA where it was fitted with a Raisbeck Stage 3 hush kit before eventually being stored.  It then received further maintenance and modification work in both Costa Rica and the USA before returning to Brisbane and entering the Australian Aircraft Register as VH-PAE in August 2000.  It was sold-off soon after.

While the B727 was overseas - and then in subsequent years - Pacific Air Express operated a number of leased Antonov AN-12 freighters out of Brisbane from 1999 to 2005.  These included LZ-SFA and LZ-SFL both leased from Air Sofia (Bulgaria), ER-ADT, ER-AXA and ER-AXE all leased from Air Bridge Group (Aerocom) of Moldova and UR-LTG leased from Volare Airlines of the Ukraine.

AN-12 LZ-SFL at Brisbane Airport in 1999  (File photo)

ER-ADT was sadly written-off in October 2001 following an incident at Honiara where the AN-12 Struck the water while on final approach. The gear was sheared off and the crew managed to climb away.  A forced landing was carried out during which the aircraft slid off the runway.

AN-12 ER-ADT at Brisbane Airport in early 2001  (File photo)

Following the use of the Antonovs, Pacific Air Express utilised Boeing B727 aircraft from HeavyLift Cargo Airlines for flights during 2006 and 2007.  Sadly though for both airlines, the Australian Government imposed a ban on B727 and B737 stage III huskitted aircraft and so jet operations were ceased.  It is believed that Pacific Air Express flights continued by using HeavyLift's Shorts S.C.5 Belfast.

In the years since to the present day, Pacific Air Express continues to operate freight flights out of Brisbane and in the Pacific region utilising leased Airwork (New Zealand) Boeing B737-300/400 freight aircraft.  Most of these aircraft operate in the titles and livery of Toll Freight Aviation.

In 2014, one such flight operated by B737-300F ZK-TLC experienced a collapse of the right main landing gear after landing at the Honiara.

Pacific Air Express previous used the radio callsign of "Solpac".

We wish Pacific Air Express Australia all the very best in their future operations once again with their own aircraft.  It is great to see their livery in the skies once again!

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

Photos taken by Russell Prothero  ©

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