15 October 2019

End of Inter-Provincial Service

Sounds Air has announced that will be cancelling the operation of their direct service between Napier and Blenheim, effective Monday the 6th of January 2020.

"We would like to thank all our loyal supporters who have utilised this service during its 4 years of operation, however it is not financially viable for us to continue the service." The airline has also noted that selected services are affected between now and the 6th of January. Sounds Air will be contacting those customers impacted individually and providing a full refund. Other flights will be operating as normal until the 5th of January 2020.

13 October 2019

Plane spotting at Lyon...

Lousy light but interesting movements at Lyon on 10 October 2019

My ride to Pau...

New Saab on the way

Air Rarotonga's new Saab 340B+ (E5-EFS) is winging its way across the USA headed for Rarotonga. It will arrive on Monday morning after stops on the West Coast and Hawaii. It certainly looks smart in its fresh paint job. 

Ewan Smith, Air Rarotinga's managing director writes, "For you planespotters on Flightaware or FR24 the ferry registration is N365CL. Planning is underway at Engineering for C of A issue, application of Air Rarotonga livery and fleet induction through next week with a proposed entry into service of Monday 21st October. It will be a busy week with CAA inspectors here who are also performing our annual flight operations and engineering technical audits."

See also : https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2019/09/second-saab-for-air-rarotonga.html

10 October 2019

New Type

Today I flew on a new type for me... an Embraer 145. The 50 seater jet was similar to the one pictured below by Air France Hop, formerly known as HOP! which is a regional airline operating flights on behalf of its parent company Air France. I flew from Brussel to Lyon...

Very nice - one wonders what the future for holds for the Embraer 135s and 145s... I'm glad I got an opportunity to fly in one before they disappear. 

Embraer 145 F-GUBG at Lyon on 9 October 2019

And perhaps you remember an outfit called Kiwijet that proposed flying Embraer 145s - in fact they proposed a number of things but never got even close to getting airborne.

The only other new type I have flown on this year was the Airbus 350-900.

However, I'm sure there are a lot of other folk out there that have flown on lots of interesting new types... Leave a comment...

06 October 2019

Simply give it a go - Foxpine Air Charter

Noel Oxnam was the owner of a timber mill at Foxton. In 1977 he learned to fly and developed the Foxpine airfield near the family sawmill at Foxton.

In June 1978 he applied for an air service licence in the name of Oxnam Timber & Hardware Co Ltd which sought to operate to air charter and air taxi services from Foxton under the name of Foxpine Air Charter using a Cessna 172K Skyhawk, ZK-CXN (c/n 17259059), which was already owned by Oxnams Timber & Hardware Co Ltd two Piper Twin Comanches, Piper PA-30-160 Twin Comanche B, ZK-DOK (c/n 30-1735) and Piper PA-39-160 Twin Comanche C/R, ZK-ECS (c/n 39-68), which were owned by Noel Oxnam. The licence was granted on the 4th of August 1978.

Foxpine Air Charter's Piper Twin Comanche ZK-ECS in its original colour scheme at Palmerston North on 23 December 1981

On the 18th of April 1979 Noel and Nan Oxnam established Foxpine Air Charter Ltd as a separate company. Cessna 150F ZK-CKS (c/n 15061567) was also owned by Oxnams Timber & Hardware Ltd  and registered to Foxpine Air Charter but it never operated under the company’s licence. The Cessna 150 was only in the fleet for a very short time.

In April 1980 Cessna 172N Skyhawk II ZK-EOG (c/n 17271808) was added to the fleet while Cessna 172, ZK-CXN, was sold in 1983. Piper Twin Comanche ZK-DOK was sold in March 1982.

Foxpine AIr Charter's second Cessna 172, ZK-EOG, at Palmerston North on 19 January 1986

On the 4th of October 1984 an aerial work licence was granted allowing the company to undertake photo, survey, and inspection work. Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II ZK-EQA (c/n 34-7970134) was purchased in October 1985. The two Piper twin-engined aircraft were equipped for air ambulance work were used by Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson and Wanganui hospitals. Graeme Atchinson, who was Foxpine Air Charter's chief pilot recounts, T
he Seneca was very popular with the various hospital boards as the aircraft had a large rear door which was low to the ground ensuring easy transfer of the patient onto a purpose built stretcher in the aircraft. We were very much expert professionals able to mobilise very quickly and the economical hire cost of the Seneca compared to say the Cessna 421, the competition used, made sense. The required equipment for hospital transfers or air ambulance flights could easily be accommodated in the Seneca, that is, a Stryker bed for spinal injuries, drip feeds, portable oxygen and a plug in incubator for infants. The Air Services Licensing Authority were informed on the 21st of November 1985 that flight training was to be added to scope of aerial work service.

Foxpine AIr Charter's Piper Seneca, ZK-EQA, at Palmerston North on 19 January 1986

On the 26th of May 1986 Foxpine Air Charter started operating a scheduled service between Palmerston North and Wellington following Eagle Air's withdrawal from the route. The new service was operated twice daily on weekdays with departures from Palmerston North at 7.10am and 4.10pm and from Wellington at 8.10am and 5.15pm. Graeme Atchinson reports on the start of the service: On the 26th May of 1986, in Piper PA34-200T Seneca I flew ZK-EQA I flew from Foxpine airfield in Foxton to Palmerston North for the inaugural flight (morning schedule) in fine weather as I logged only 10 minutes actual instrument flight (I/F) Foxpine-Palmerston North-Wellington-Foxpine. Flying directly on the return flight back home to Foxpine suggests no passengers. 

Before the Foxpine scheduled service commenced, I spent time door knocking as many travel agents as I could find in both cities, as well as visiting key people for the NZ Dairy Board, Massey University and even the travel department for MP’s at the “Beehive” Parliament House. As a result I did fly our Prime Minister Rob Muldoon and other politicians and of course Government personnel from my efforts to drum up business. It certainly made sense flying the 40 minute trip compared to a very long drive with hold ups in traffic. For me it was a very rewarding experience and gave me seriously good IFR skills in all weather, sometimes challenging with whatever “Wellington’s best” could throw at me.

Evening Standard, 21 May 1986
Foxpine Air Charter timetable, effective 12 May 1986

Both the Piper Seneca and Piper Twin Comanche were operated the service, but, a rare occasions, the Cessna 172 ZK-EOG was also used. Graeme notes, 
this hardly ever happened, however, if one of the twins was in for scheduled maintenance and the other twin had an urgent air ambulance flight for example, rather than inconvenience the customers, the Cessna 172 ZK-EOG was utilised. This occurred during March 1987. It should be appreciated that on the Palmerston North-Wellington run, load factors were very light, often just 1 - 3 passengers which is why Eagle Air’s Piper Chieftain couldn’t make a profit, with most people opting to drive their car.

Piper Twin Comanche, ZK-ECS, repainted at Palmerston North on 19 January 1986
Only the one passenger, so Cessna 172 ZK-EOG was used on the service to Wellington on 7 January 1987. Photo taken at Palmerston North

In early January 1987 the airline advised the Air Licensing Authority that the twice daily air schedule between Palmerston North and Wellington would be reduced to only operate on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays. Interestingly, the timetable had shown this from the 26th of July 1986.

Foxpine Air Charter timetable, effective 26 July 1986

Ultimately the service was not viable and the last scheduled service was flown on the 22nd May 1987 by 
Graeme Atchinson in PA39 Twin Comanche ZK-ECS. This aircraft is still flying now in Australia as VH-ICS. 

In August 1987 Foxpine Air Charter started Air River City and it was an Air River City service that lead to the company being grounded and its closure with the company The company being deregistered on the 15th of June 1993

So who was Noel Oxnam and why did he establish Foxpine Air Charter's service between Palmerston North and Wellington? Graeme gives a great insight into Noel Oxnam: You will note the service lasted about a year, perhaps he thought he would simply give it a go and why not... he definitely was a successful entrepreneur and had a mighty business empire. Flying, a passion of his. was simply another arm in his business. Perhaps it was a clever tax dodge - we will never know BUT what should be known is the following; Foxton around 1986 had a population of 1,000 people in the town and another 1,500 people at Foxton Beach. Of those in town he employed about half, the other half were employed by the Feltex Carpet Mill - well not quite half the town, there were shops and 7 hotels but you get the drift. He employed many grateful people and was a generous man with a kind heart. I liked him. The Foxpine empire it comprised of his own land growing radiata pine, huge leased areas also covered in radiata pine, his timber mill, Foxpine Hardware department and timber yard, his logging truck workshop for trucks, grader, tractor and other machinery. Foxpine Charcoal factory sold bags for BBQ, Foxpine sawdust and wood chips was sold to nearby poultry farms - nothing was wasted. Foxpine kiwifruit was managed by his son-in-law with kiwifruit grown down one side of the airfield. Located adjacent was the Foxpine piggery which supplied pork to the district marketed under the name Solari products. Foxpine Readymix Concrete and of course Foxpine Air Charter with its own 1,000 metre grass all weather airstrip with a stand of 80 ft high pine trees all down one side, with its own runway lighting system for night operations. Landing towards the west was intimidating at first as there was a stand high pine trees on the other side as well for a distance of about 200 metres so you learned to forget about them and just focus on the aim point and imaginary centreline! Set amongst the clumps of pine trees a little further along (it really was a beautiful setting) were many wooden hangars made from his timber - weather board fashion, with large wooden sliding doors and concrete floors. Incorporated into one very large hangar. used by Don Law for aircraft painting. was a bunkroom, kitchen, shower and toilet block. Another hangar enclosed an operations room and classroom for the Foxpine Flying School. In the weekends sport aircraft based on the airfield flew. The very beginnings of the World Class Omaka Airshow “Classic Fighters” can be traced to Foxpine Airfield with resident Stuart Tantrum dogfighting in his SE5A with Von Lanham in NZ’s first Fokker Triplane above the trenches of rural Foxton. I enviously watched those two do battle overhead and was grateful Stuart would allow me to fly his Tiger Moth ZK-ALX occasionally. While we had our weekend fun, Foxpine owner Noel Oxnam wearing his trademark uniform business shorts and shirt with long socks and sandals sporting an Amish style beard could be seen on his grader levelling the gravel roads or marking trees for pruning and thinning out. His house atop the only hill had grand views and I was privileged to mind their home when they went on family holidays in their large Bedford bus motor home towing a boat. Occasionally he and wife Nan and another couple who managed the charcoal factory would fly to Norfolk Island in the Twin Comanche.

People included :    
Graeme Atchinson (Chief Pilot)
Des Batten (Pilot)
P Christie (Pilot)
Clive Ocwell (Pilot)
Noel Oxnam (Owner/Pilot)

A huge thanks to Graeme Atchinson for his contribution to this post.

A post on Air River City will follow in November

04 October 2019

Originair Flights Airborne Again

It looks as if Originair have been operating again today (4 October) with Air Wanganui's Beech Super King Air operating on an Originair service from New Plymouth and Palmerston North to Nelson with a return service to Palmerston North.

It seems, from Originair's reservation system that it hopes to resume Jetstream services later this month.

Updated 6 October

Air Wanganui's Beech Super King Air operated a Nelson-New Plymouth return service followed by a Nelson to Palmerston North service for Originair on Sunday 6 October.

02 October 2019

What does it mean when an airport is sold?

A family-run airline has been blindsided by the sale of the Kāpiti Coast airport it operates from. Air Chathams general manager Duane Emeny only found out about the sale when contacted for comment by Stuff - "I'm probably as surprised as you are." The airport was due to be re-certified with the Civil Aviation Authority - a process and cost carried by the airport owners - so his business could keep flying its Saab 340 planes. On Wednesday, Stuff revealed Todd Property Group had agreed to sell the Paraparaumu airport and surrounding land as part of a major nation-wide asset disposal including housing and retail developments. The sale, expected to be completed in November, includes residential developments Pegasus township in Christchurch, Auckland's Stonefields, and undeveloped land in Hawke's Bay and Whangarei. Todd Property Group directed all inquiries to the buyer, the recently-formed NZPropCo Ltd [NZPL], a New Zealand-based investment group. NZPL would not comment on what their plans were for the airport and other assets. Air Chathams began flying from the airport in August 2018 after the Kāpiti Coast District Council contributed at least $150,000 to get the airline off the ground. Air New Zealand had axed its local service in March 2018. Emeny said Auckland services running from the airport - 26 flights to and from the city every week ) - had been "building nicely" over the past year and the company was only now starting to see some returns on the venture. "But it would have been nice, and probably the polite thing to do really, if Todd Property had actually informed us of what their plans were, and perhaps given us the ability to front-foot it a little bit." There were restrictions with zoning around what could be done with the airport property, he said. In 2017, the Kāpiti Coast District Council eased District plan restrictions to allow for more development on the 85 hectares surrounding the 40ha airport. The rule change meant houses, supermarkets, a department store, industrial units, and multiple small food outlets could be built on land. The changes were challenged in court by the company behind Coastlands shopping mall but were struck out by a judge. Kāpiti Coast District Council CE Wayne Maxwell said on Wednesday the airport was significant to both the community, and the district's economy. "For our part, we would welcome a discussion with NZPropCo to understand its aspirations and look for opportunities to work together to help Kāpiti's air services continue to thrive." The airport and neighbouring Kāpiti Landing area was zoned Airport Zone with the land predominantly in the "Airport Mixed Use Precinct", he said. "This means it would be possible to develop commercial activities with controlled activity resource consent for any buildings. This would exclude retail activities which are more limited within an airport zone. "There is also an area within the zone identified for residential development. Again, this would require resource consent to progress." The council was currently processing one application for a site located within the Mixed Use Precinct of the Airport Zone. "This related to extensions to the Mitre 10 Mega building and was still under consideration." Kāpiti Coast Mayor K Gurunathan said he was not concerned about the future of the airport and the purchase was a "vote of confidence" in the district. "If you look at those people [NZPL] they are big players, one at least is a global player which means they have significant future interest in the investment of the Kāpiti Coast."

1939: At the start of World War II, the Crown compulsorily acquires the airport under the Public Works Act.
1995: The original 131-hectare block is sold to Murray Cole and three other Kāpiti businessmen for $1.6 million. Original Maori and non-Maori landowners fight for compensation, believing the land should have been offered back to them.
2004: A parliamentary select committee calls for a government inquiry into the sale. An auditor-general's inquiry found the sale process flawed, but the price reasonable.
2006: Paraparaumu Airport Holdings, headed by Sir Noel Robinson, buys the airport for "well under $40m", announcing plans for a 30-year development.
2008: Kāpiti Coast District Council approves the redevelopment application.
2012: Todd Property Group, part of the family-owned Todd Corporation, takes a 75 per cent shareholding in a new airport company, Kāpiti Coast Airport Holdings, with Robinson having 25 per cent.

Source : https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/property/116263291/kpiti-coast-airport-sale-by-todd-property-group-comes-as-a-surprise-to-air-chathams

01 October 2019

Wise Owl at Dunedin

The Royal New Zealand Air Force were in Dunedin for Wise Owl exercises and so an opportunity to get some photos of their Raytheon T-6A Texan II aircraft... NZ1401 above

NZ1406 above

...and NZ1410 above and below

A desperataion shot of Beechcraft B300 King Air 350 NZ2352 through the windows of the ATR. Wise Owl is definitely different from my younger days in Hokitika... the Harvards and Devons gone... the Airtrainers and Friendships gone... the tent camp gone... Hotels in town now!
My ride to Christchurch, ATR 72-500 ZK-MCJ... I wonder if this will be my last flight on a Mount Cook flight??? All photos taken at 28 September 2019

30 September 2019

Mainland Air's New 172s

Mainland Air have recently added two Cessna 172s to its fleet... above Cessna 172 ZK-ELT and below ZK-ETT at Dunedin on 28 September 2019.

On the same day Mainland Air's Piper Chieftain ZK-KVW was enjoying the Dunedin sun... 

...while Cessna 152s ZK-NSC above and ZK-NSM were doing training

29 September 2019

Mt Cook Airline ATR72-212A (600) ZK-MZA delivered

Mt Cook Airline has taken delivery of its 24th ATR -600 series aircraft with the arrival at Christchurch 27 September 2019 of ZK-MZA MSN 1576. Delivered by Southern Cross International as SXI1944, the ATR embarked from Toulouse 21 September 2019 with stops at Heraklion, Riyhad, Muscat, Nagpur, Penang, Bali, Darwin and Brisbane. 

ZK-MZA departing Brisbane 27 September 2019. 

28 September 2019

Air New Zealand, Mount Cook and Air Nelson Integration.

Air New Zealand has made the decision to align all aircraft operations under a single Air Operating Certificate. From 19 November 2019 Air Nelson Q300 aircraft will be operating under the Air NZ AOC with Mt Cook ATR operations to follow in mid-December. The most significant change for other users of the New Zealand aviation system will be the change to utilising ANZ flight numbers and “New Zealand” as the callsign for all of these operations.

Air Nelson Q300 aircraft previously operating with callsign “Link xxx” will now use “New Zealand 8xxx” and be filing ATC plans as ANZ8xxx.

Mt Cook ATR aircraft previously operating as “Mt Cook xxx” will now use “New Zealand 5xxx” and be filing ATC plans as ANZ5xxx.

For those of you who operate at airfields served by these aircraft please note the change and when you hear “New Zealand” inbound don’t assume that it is a jet.

Air New Zealand Airbus A321-271NX (NEO) ZK-NNG enters service

Air New Zealand's 7th (and final) Airbus A321-271NX (NEO) ZK-NNG MSN 8908 has entered service with the airline operating its first commercial service as NZ729 from Auckland to Melbourne 27 September 2019. 

This example, configured to carry 214 passengers, conducted its first flight on 04 September 2019 followed by two additional flights before embarking from Finkenwerder 16 September 2019 for night stops at Muscat and Kuala Lumpur then onto Auckland via Cairns, arriving Auckland before sunrise 19 September 2019. 

The next NEO for delivery, Airbus A320 ZK-NHD MSN 9207, is expected late November 2019.

We caught up with ZK-NNG as it was towed from the Air NZ Jetbase to the international terminal for its first revenue service. 

Seeing Double in Kaitaia

Barrier Air offered its first double Friday night flight to Kaitaia yesterday evening. Due to increasing passenger numbers on its Auckland-Kaitaia service the airline has added an additional Friday evening service to and from Kaitaia as required. Whenever the 6.15pm departure from Auckland is full the airline will add a 6.30pm departure from Auckland.

Grant Bacon reports, "we had a successful trip up to Kaitaia for the inaugural double evening flights. The weather was great up north. We used Caravans ZK-SDC and ZK-SDD. The two northbound flights were full and we were 3/4 full on the return."

Barrier Air's inaugural double Friday evening service to Kaitaia... Cessna 208 Grand Caravans ZK-SDC and ZK-SDD on the ground at Kaitaia on Friday evening, 27 September 2019

An interesting selfie Grant

The Friday evening schedule is now:

GBA619   Auckland - Kaitaia   Dep 1815 Arr 1920 
GBA621   Auckland - Kaitaia   Dep 1830 Arr 1935*

GBA620   Kaitaia - Auckland   Dep 1935 Arr 2040
GBA622   Kaitaia - Auckland   Dep 2000 Arr 2105*

*As the first flight gets full, the second flight will be added on a as required basis.

A big thanks to Grant Bacon for the photos and comment