14 December 2018

The longest domestic


Air New Zealand is set to trial a first ever direct service between Invercargill and Auckland. The company's announced it plans on using its Airbus A320 jet aircraft for the route from the second half of 2019. However, the trial service will only operate five days a week. And with a flight time of approximately two hours, the new service will be the longest domestic Air New Zealand flight. It will depart Invercargill at 6am and arrive in Auckland at 7:55am.  The Auckland-Invercargill service will depart at 7:35pm. Air New Zealand Head of Regional Affairs Reuben Levermore said the community has been demanding it. "The Southland community has told us a direct Invercargill-Auckland service is important and we've been working closely with stakeholders to achieve this.  "The challenge will be for the community to support the trial of a direct service to ensure it's sustainable, and we're confident they'll do so."

13 December 2018

Jet Service to Westport?



An interesting change of registration on the CAA website, Cessna 525 Citation ZK-RJZ registered to Sounds Air. So, are Sounds Air are operating the aircraft on behalf of the operator, starting jet charter work or commencing jet services to Westport??? It will be interesting to see what transpires and whether the RJZ where the Sounds Air colour scheme or logo.  

And if my chance there is a jet service to Westport I for one would certainly try it!



UPDATE... Andrew Crawford has posted on Facebook, Didn’t change actual “Ownership”....Just operating it... Guess that means Westport won't get a jet service... meanwhile, there is an airline in the neighbourhood looking for an operator

12 December 2018

Green Light for Norfolk Island Service



Direct Auckland-Norfolk Island Service To Start In September 2019

Air Chathams is happy to report they are well along the track in gaining the required approvals and permits to commence weekly passenger flights to Norfolk Island. 

“It’s important we advise and keep our travel partners in New Zealand and Norfolk Island up to date with current activity and likely launch dates” said Duane Emeny, General Manager. “We have the required approvals from Australian Home Affairs and ANZA approvals from the NZ CAA. This allows us to operate in Australian territory under equivalent New Zealand regulations. The Ministry of Transport in New Zealand is also to provide a license for a Single Aviation Market for flights direct to Norfolk Island from Auckland.”

Regular scheduled service is planned to commence in September 2019 to allow a sufficient marketing and promotion period to drive demand. As with all airlines entering a new international market, a lead-in period long enough to stimulate demand and fill passenger flights prior to commencement is essential. Air Chathams will be working with travel agencies and wholesalers in both New Zealand and Norfolk Island to achieve this.

To cater for direct flights and high demand prior to September 2019, Air Chathams will be providing special flights for Norfolk Island festivals and sporting events working alongside local travel companies and offering discounted fares on positioning sectors. 

The airline continues to be enthusiastic in opening this route and is also upgrading their reservations systems to provide a better online service and manage immigration and customs requirements.

This development is a significant undertaking and is expected to be live and operational by the end of March 2019. Air Chathams is always conscious of retaining and continuing the quality service and consistency their reputation is built on. 

Air Chathams anticipates sales for scheduled services on the new direct Auckland to Norfolk Island route to be available from April 2019.

For more information, please contact:

Adrian Ali, Commercial Manager
M: 021 580340
T: 0800 580127
E: adrian@airchathams.co.nz
W: www.airchathams.co.nz

The Last Strike

On the 22nd and 23rd of December 1984 Air New Zealand flight attendants went out on strike in the days before Christmas. While I accept the right to strike I think going on strike just before Christmas is mean spirited and attack on families and ruining Christmas for some families that will have saved really hard to get together as family for Christmas... At this time of year flights are about families travelling. Why not strike when business people are the majority of people travelling???

However, the strike of 1984 was a bonanza for me... here are some of what I took at Christchurch on the 22nd and 23rd of December 1984 as people tried to find other means of getting to be with family for Christmas. 


















10 December 2018

No flights...


It seems no Originair flights were operated over the weekend for Originair despite the company's website showed full flights for Friday, Sunday and Monday. The website shows all flights are full for next weekend. Flights can be booked for flights from the 19th of December. 

It will be interesting to see whether Originair finds another operator, but their experience with the previous two operators may see them preferring gaining their own AOC. 

09 December 2018

Northland's Own Airline - Northern Commuter Airlines



In late October 1988 Air New Zealand withdrew its Fokker Friendship service between Whangarei and Auckland in favour of Eagle Air using Embraer Bandeirantes. The introduction of the Bandeirantes provided better frequency and timings which better suited Whangarei business people. Whangarei Air Taxi’s had previously had a monopoly on the business traffic and the new competition seriously eroded their business.

Faced with this situation the Aero Club decided to align their service with Ansett New Zealand and seek new investment. Northern Commuter Airlines Ltd was formed as a requirement of the link with Ansett, which would not operate services in conjunction with an incorporated society. The shareholders were the Northland Districts Aero Club (40%) and private shareholders and Aero Club members (60%). The original directors of the new company were Alan Ward, Dave Culham, Denis Davidson and Barry Keay but later ownership passed to Denis Davidson and Dave Culham with a few minor shareholders.

Northern Commuter Airlines officially began operating in January 1990 mainly using the Aero Club’s GAF N22 Nomad ZK-NDB but some of the Aero Cub’s single-engined aircraft were used according to passenger demand. While the airline operated under the Tranzair banner the Nomad carried Northern Commuter Airlines titles. With the introduction of the Ansett connection flights departed and arrived at the Whangarei terminal rather than the Northern District Aero Club clubrooms. 

A couple of shots of Northern Commuter Airlines' GAF N22 Nomad, ZK-NDB, above at Auckland in January 1990 and below at Ardmore


Initially three return weekday flights were offered using the Nomad with one flight offered on both Saturdays and Sundays.

The initial timetable, effective January 1990






In April 1990 the Nomad was replaced by Piper PA31-350 Chieftain ZK-NCA. Unlike the Nomad this aircraft carried the Ansett Tranzair colour scheme. The Chieftain picked up the Nomad schedule but in June 1990 this was expanded to four weekday flights and two on Saturdays and Sundays. The frequency was further increased to five weekday flights from 29 October 1990 with the installation of runway lights at Whangarei.

Northern Commuter Airlines' Piper Chieftain ZK-NCA carried two forms of the Tranzair colours as seen above at Ardmore on 12 May 1990 and below, at Ardmore on 24 January 1992.


In November 1993 a third Sunday service was offered and the schedule then remained the same until 1996 when Bandeirantes were introduced to Whangarei. The Chieftain continued to operate a couple of the weekday flights and a number of weekend flights. When needed Piper PA31-350 Chieftain ZK-FOP was used as a backup aircraft.

On the 7th of November 1995 Whakatane's Tranzair service, which had been operated by Bell Air, was replaced was taken over by Rex Aviation using Bandeirante aircraft. Instead of offering Whakatane an all Bandeirante service Rex Aviation deployed the Bandeirante to both Whakatane and Whangarei and at the same time the Northern Commuter Airlines’ Chieftain was used to Whakatane as well. On weekdays two Bandeirante flights and three Chieftain flights were operated between Auckland and Whakatane and three Bandeirante flights and two Chieftain flights were operated between Auckland and Whangarei. A reduced schedule operated over the weekend.



On the 29th of February 1996 the Tranzair name was changed to Ansett New Zealand Regional and the Piper Chieftain was rebranded accordingly.

Northern Commuter Airlines' Piper Chieftain ZK-NCA in Ansett NZ Regional colours at Whangarei on 11 November 1996
The Ansett NZ Regional timetable from Whangarei effective September 1996 with Bandeirantes and the Chieftain both used on the route.

On the 3rd  of November 1996 Ansett New Zealand Regional pulled out of Whakatane citing economic factors. This enabled Ansett New REgional to operate an all Bandeirante service to Whangarei and so the 3rd of November 1996 also marked the end of Tranzair flights operated by Northern Commuter Airlines.

The Ansett NZ Regional service to Whangarei continued until 1 August 1998 went it was withdrawn.


08 December 2018

New Operator for Waiheke Island



Chris Sattler is a German national who has now setlled in in New Zealand. Aviation was always a passion and before going to university he was in the German Air Force. He then worked in the finance industry, where he specialised in airline finance.

In 2013 he founded Auckland Seaplanes Limited which operates two Beaver floatplanes from the Auckland waterfront. In December 2017 he became a half owner of Waiheke Island's Reeve Airfield. Then, on the 3rd of September 2018, he founded Waiheke Wings Limited. 

Waiheke Wings is the only commercial flight operator on Waiheke Island. The company operates two 2 Cessna 172s, ZK-CBZ and ZK-MDX. It operates scenic flights from Waiheke Island's Reeve Airfield.



07 December 2018

Bell Air postscript



Thanks to Darryn who wrote to me during the week following the updating of the Bell Air post... see : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/02/bell-air-remembered.html

Darryn writes,

A great revision to your Bell Air profile!

I grew up in Whakatane and spent many hours with Graeme or Red Barker fish-spotting or bludging rides on the Auckland service in either PAT or LLA.  I pop by and see Graeme and Pat whenever I’m back home (hasn’t been for a couple of years now but they were both very well last time I dropped in).

I’ve attached a photo of PAT on the ground at Whakatane probably late 70’s.  You’ll see the flag flying on the tower - Flight Service was still active then!

Thanks for your fantastic blog!

Best wishes

Darryn Morgan


This is Darryn's photo... but later than late 1970s...

This is my photo of PAT in August 1981

And in May 1988 without the tail logo... I also have it like this in 1984. My question is, wht was the tail logo removed??? Any thoughts anyone??? 

In researching the expanded post on Bell Air I found this paper Graeme Bell presented on fish spotting...


Aerial Spotting for Pelagic Fishes 
My company, which was established in 1968, uses three aircraft in air charter and aerial spotting work. These are a Piper Aztec twin, a Cessna Cardinal 177B, and a Cessna 172, the last two being single-engined. We are based in Whakatane and undertake charters to all parts of New Zealand. My interest in aerial spotting for surface schools of fish was aroused while flying charters for the Marine Department during the 1967-68 summer. At that time Mr Don York (now ol the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) was studying tuna in the Bay ol Plenty and it was he who provided me with much early tuition on school locarion, estimation of school size, and species identification. Since then I have carried out fish spotting along most of the New Zealand coastline. This has been in conjunction with various research projects (for example, Roberts 1971), the activities of research and charter vessels (Espirito Santo 1970-71, W  J Scott 1970-71, Paramount 1973-75, James Cook 1975-76, Michelangelo, Kerri M, and South Pacific 1975-76), Government surveys (see Eggleston 1975, 1976. Habib 1975, 1976, Robertson 1975, James 1976) and the fishing activities of New Zealand vessels such as Lindberg, Marine Countess, and the Bay of Plenty small-boat fleet. Contact is made with vessels through an HF Double Side Band radio set on frequencies 2045, 2456, and 2638 kHz. I also monitor the Marine Distress frequency 2182 and the Police frequency 5680. Locating pelagic species from the air is largely a matter of experience. Schools of fish tend to form "smudges" on the surface which are characteristic for the different species. The action of schools swimming along just below the surface tends to ripple the surface water and cause these smudges. In moderate to rough seas this action tends to dampen wave action and so schools in these conditions are seen as "flat spots" or small areas of relatively calm water. Feeding schools are usually more obvious. Often accompanied by sea birds, these schools tend to break the surface o[the sea in their feeding movements, at times creating a foaming appearance. Finding particular species is also a matter of experience. For example, certain species are regularly found in particular areas at certain times of the year: trevally - Astrolabe Reef, Penguin Shoal, Three Kings Islands; kahawai - Graham, Pandora, and Ariel Banks; blue maomao - White Island. Cape Breg; jack mackerel - Penguin Shoal, Waikawa Point; English mackerel - North Cape, Graham Bank; skipjack - East Cape to North Cape on the east coast of the North Island, between the 30- and 100-fathom (55- and 183m) depth contours. Species identification from the air is based mainly on school colour. swimming, and schooling behaviour. Jack mackerel schools are muddy-brown, English mackerel steel-blue, blue maomao light sky-blue, trevally and kahawai green-yellow, albacore and bluefin black, yellowfin black with yellow flashes, skipjack purple-blue with silver flashes, anchovy silver, and pilchard green with silver flashes. Slow swimmers are jack mackere l, kahawai, blue maomao, anchovies, and pilchards; medium to fast swimmers are English mackerel, trevally, and the tunas. Species can be confused in situations where the light is inadequate or where the sea is moderate to rough. Trevally and kahawai both have a sinuous body action during tail movement, but this action is more accentuated in kahawai, and trevally tend to school closer together. English mackerel and skipjack can be confused. In certain lights they have a similar colour and when disturbed they sound in a similar manner. However, skipjack are generally larger fish with distinctly bullet-shaped bodies. Albacore and bluefin tuna are often confused. However, if the fish are observed long enough, the large pectoral fins of albacore become apparent. If the fish are particularly large, they are probably bluefin, which grow to over 300 lb (136 kg). Anchovy and pilchard schools often look the same, but they can be distinguished when they sound in response to aircraft noise. On a low pass you never see individual anchovies, but you will see pilchards. If sea birds accompany frsh schools, gulls and terns are usually associated with kahawai and mackerel; petrels, shearwaters, and gannets usually accompany tuna. I have tested many of my identifications through radio contact with fishing vessels and as a result have built up a number of other criteria. School size is usually estimated according to the species of fish. Density, surface area. and depth of school are taken into account. Often a school will cover a large surface area and at first glance appear to contain a large quantity of fish. However, these schools almost as often have no depth (no colour) or any density, as the individual distances between fish are large. My confidence in estimating school size has been built up by providing vessels such as Lindberg, Marine Countess, and the chartered seiners with estimates of schools which they have then caught and weighed. Much of my aerial spotting work now revolves around fishing and directing vessels to schools of suitable size, taking into account sea conditions, and vessel holding capacity and catching ability. This direction is often critical. Particularly for the smaller seiners, as catching a school which is too large in marginal sea conditions can be disastrous. I would like to conclude this paper with some points on the cost-effectiveness of aerial surveys. The effective spotting distance either side of an aircraft flying at an altitude of 500 to 1000 ft is 3 miles. Flying in my Piper Aztec at 155 knots, I can survey 930 square miles in an hour at a cost of $95.00, or about 10 cents per square mile. In the Cessna Cardinal, which flies at 110 knots, the figures are 660 square miles an hour at a cost of $45.00, or about 7 cents per square mile, and in the Cessna 172 flying at 95knots,570square miles at $38.00, or 6.7 cents per square mile. Apart from the benefits of having an aircraft on hand to locate, identify, and estimate size of schools, and provide information necessary for successful fishing operations, the aeroplane is unsurpassed in the business of surveying large areas of water for pelagic fish species quickly and at reasonable cost.

Source : G R Bell, Aerial Spotting for Pelagic Fishes, in Proceedings of the Skipjack Tuna Conference, July 1976, Fisheries Research Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Occasional Publication No. 11, 1976 





06 December 2018

Question Answered



A little article in the Kapiti News of 5 December 2018 answers the question I was asking about CAA grounding air2there... I will update the main air2there profile post.

Air2there, a small airline company based in Paraparaumu, has closed. The airline, which operated a regional daily schedule to Nelson and charter flights, started in 2004 from its base at Kapiti Coast Airport. Pricewaterhouse-Coopers managing partner John Fisk said he and Richard Nacey were appointed receivers to Air2there.com (2008) Limited, Air Wellington Limited and Kingair Limited on November 23, as well as an air-craft owned by director Richard Bald-win. Reasons for Air2there going into receivership were still being established. The company stopped operating on September 13 following suspension of the air operator certificate with CAA. "We have identified three aircraft together with various parts and equipment. We will be putting in place a tender process for the assets in the near future. "It is too early to provide details of creditor claims or the potential for recovery for creditors at this stage. We will be preparing our statutory report and expect to issue this before the end of this year."

05 December 2018

November's Haul

This is my entire photo haul for November... six more than I took in October...

Inflite Charters' Aerospatiale AS 355 F1 Squirrel ZK-HML at Taupo on 18 November 2018

Can anyone identify this Cessna taken at Taupo on 18 November 2018

Sounds Air's Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLX at Taupo on 18 November 2018 - I hate orange cones!

Grumman American AA-5A Cheetah at Tauranga on 28 November 2018

Air New Zealand's ATR 72-600 at Tauranga on 28 November 2018

Ardmore Flying School's Cessna 172 ZK-TAP Grumman American AA-5A Cheetah at Tauranga on 28 November 2018

04 December 2018

Updated Airline Profiles...

As and when I get new information, photos, corrections etc on the airlines I update my airline profiles... For those who are keeping their own copy of my airline profiles I have updated the following profiles in recent weeks...


A major reworking of this post


Additional details added to the sections on the Takaka and Dominion services operated by Vincent Aviation


Updated details of the 12 last months 
Does anyone have definitive information on air2there losing their AOC in September and the reasons for this?



Updated with the company's developments over the last 12 months


Updated with the company's developments over the last 4 months


Updated with the start of the Whangarei service


Updated with the company's developments over the last 4 months