30 April 2010

It's Changed Again - the flyDirect timetable...

flyDirect have changed their timetable again - I think this might be the third version since they started advertising on the 29th of March. Wellington is now the big winner receiving two flights a day to Wanaka instead of one, as advertised as recently as last week, while Christchurch loses one flight a day and will only have a morning flight to and from Wanaka. This seems to make more sense. The package deals, which include a rental car, must be much more attractive to North Islanders than South Islanders for whom driving to Wanaka one's own car is still an option.

flyDirect's latest schedule, as it appears today, is as follows

Flight Schedule - July 1 - October 5 2010

Flight Departs Arrives Frequency

Wellington – Wanaka
FD201 0645 0815 Daily
FD203 1500 1630 Daily

Wanaka – Wellington
FD204 1200 1330 Daily
FD202 1715 1840 Daily

Christchurch – Wanaka
FD101 1000 1045 Daily

Wanaka – Christchurch
FD102 0845 0930 Daily

28 April 2010

Eagle Beech

Beech 1900D ZK-EAC at Auckland on 30 September 2008.

While many Eagle Air pilots will have Beech 1900 ZK-EAC in their logbook not too many will have the company's first Beech, the first of Eagle's airline fleet. Beech 58 Baron ZK-ECA, Eagle Air's first Beech, was registered to them on the 10th of March 1975. Over the next months the company made several unsuccessful applications to the Air Services Licencing Authority to operate services from Hamilton to Palmerston North and Wanganui. While not gaining a licence or operate a scheduled service the compnay did manage, by what the Licencing Authority described as "doubtful" means, to establish a twice-daily air taxi service with a published timetable between the three centres starting in October 1975. With the withdrawal from these routes by Capital Air Services in 1977 Eagle was granted its own licence and subsequently purchased its first Chieftain and the Eagle began to soar.

Beech Baron ZK-ECA at Wanganui on 21 February 1985

PS - I know "Beech 1900D" should read "Raytheon 1900D" but who calls them Raytheons?????

27 April 2010

End of Charter?

Noted heading back to the Coast from Paraparaumu yesterday was Air West Coast's Piper Chieftain ZK-VIP. It has been used for some months by air2there on their Cook Strait services. Is it the end of the charter or back to its Gloriavale Community home at Lake Haupiri for maintenance???

A desparation shot of VIP at Paraparaumu on 4 February 2010

26 April 2010

End of Another Courier Run

In answer to a question about Stewart Island Flights' courier run between Invercargill and Dunedin Jordan Kean sent me this little snippet...

"There was a post run from NV-DN-NV which started in 1995 and Cherokee 6 DBC was used, which was owned by Alan Johnson. This did about 2 years service before it crashed on the beach at Spit Island, Preservation Inlet. RTS was then brought in from Australia, and was operated right up until the service stopped at the end of 2009, when the post vans started doing it, for a lot less cost."

I don't get to the deep south very often these days and haven't got a picture of RTS but there is a great photo on it on a beach at Mason's Bay on Stewart Island on Airliners.net...


If anyone would happen to know the actual date of the last courier run that would be much appreciated. Sadly courier flights by third level airlines are becoming a thing of the past.

25 April 2010

The New Islander - Stewart Island Air Services


New Zealand’s southern most airline, Stewart Island Flights, is in its fourth incarnation. It began as Stewart Island Air Services before being rebranded as Southern Air Ltd in late 1980 and subsequently Southern Air (1997) Ltd and finally, in 2000, it became Stewart Island Flights. This first post is about Stewart Island Air Services...

Stewart Island’s first air service was operated by Grumman Widgeon amphibians operated by an Invercargill-based company, Amphibian Airways. The service was later sold to NZ Tourist Air Travel which in turn was later brought by Mount Cook Airlines.

In 1976 Mount Cook Airlines sold both their amphibian operations which were based at Invercargill and Mechanics Bay in Auckland. The Invercargill operation was bought by Stewart Island Air Services who applied to the Air Services Licencing Authority in June 1976 to operate (1) a non-scheduled service between Invercargill and Stewart Island, (2) an air charter service from Invercargill to Stewart Island 3) and air charter and air taxi services from Stewart Island to anywhere in New Zealand. The proposed services are to commence in October 1976, using one BN2A “Islander” aircraft.

In the meantime Stewart Island Air Services found a suitable airstrip site at Ryans Creek, on a small plateau and not too far from Oban, Stewart Island's main settlement. Part of the airstrip was built on freehold land bought by the airlines from private owners, and part on the 2.14 hectares of former scrub reserve for which the company paid the Lands and Survey Department $7500 in 1976. The Stewart Island County Council approved a zoning change. Hearings and appeals ensued with environmental groups overruled due to the nature of the scrub and that damage to the environment would be minimal.

Within weeks of Stewart Island Air Services making their application for an air service the Air Service Licensing Authority heard an application by Rural Management, Ltd, to run an amphibian air service between Invercargill and Stewart Island. The Press reported that The Christchurch company sought a licence to use amphibian aircraft for the 20 minute flights, to provide a scheduled service, and to finance a public runway on property owned by a Stewart Islander. Mr J. G. Rutherford, a Christchurch solicitor, who with his wife owns the company, made it clear that he was not interested in real estate developments on the Island. He already had projects in the North Island and South Island. The application was objected to by Stewart Island Air Services, Ltd, which has an application before the authority to provide a seven-day-a-week, unscheduled air service using a nine-seat Britten-Norman Islander. With about 7000 passengers a year to be carried only one licence should be granted, said its chairman of directors (Mr W. G. Broughton). He said his company would provide a private airstrip at Ryan Creek and be responsible for its maintenance. The chairman of the authority (Mr J. H. O. Tiller) accepted the need for urgency in view of Mount Cook’s impending withdrawal of its  Stewart Island service, but sought final submissions in writing from the two companies before the weekend. He said there was no question about the need for an air link to Stewart Island. But there was room for only one firm.

After Stewart Island Air Services were granted the air service licence the company looked to the construction of the Ryans Creek air strip. The Mount Cook Airlines amphibian service ended on the 3rd of September 1976 and the air service passed to Stewart Island Air Services on the 4th of September 1976. The new company leased Grumman Widgeon ZK-AVM from Auckland’s Sea Bee Air to ensure the continuation of the service until the Islander service could be started. 

On the 8th of September 1976 the company wrote to Stewart Islanders outlining their plans for the new air service...

Dear Stewart Islander,

About your Air Service

You will be aware that for many months now Stewart Island Air Services Limited has been attempting to obtain all the necessary approvals to allow it to construct an air strip on the Island. This is so that a land-based service can be introduced using a nine seater Britten-Norman Islander aircraft. Last Friday saw a further step in this direction when the last Mount Cook flight to the Island took place and Stewart Island Air Services took over the amphibian run. 

The Company, after a great deal of negotiation has managed to make arrangements which will ensure, that at least in the immediate future the amphibian service will be retained. The Company is chartering various Widgeons over the next four months as their overhauls are completed and will run these generally along the lines that they have been run in the past. Unfortunately, we have only been able to obtain four months of guaranteed charter but provided no further delays are encountered with approvals for the establishment of the air strip, construction should be near completion by that time. The progress we have made so far would not have been possible without the enthusiastic support of your local Member of Parliament, Rex Austin and sympathetic assistance of Hugh Templeton, Brian Talboys and Peter Gordon. 

The position with the air strip is that Stewart Island Air Services Limited have been granted a Licence to fly a land-based service to Stewart Island, and have been granted Town Planning approval to use the land it has acquired at Ryan's Creek for the purposes of an airfield. The Town Planning approval can be appealed against by the objector, within the next three weeks. Provided· that no appeal is lodged against the Council's decision, the Company hopes to commence construction within the first fortnight of October. In the meantime, however, our Contractor unfortunately has had to remove his construction plant from the Island. 

As far as the interim amphibian service is concerned, we will be running a one pilot operation. The Company has been very fortunate to obtain the services of Captain Murray Donald as their pilot, and Captain Donald will be flying the Widgeons daily except for Wednesday and Thursday. C.A.A. requirements demand this. The boat, of course, runs on Wednesday so this means that Thursday is the only day when the Island is without some form of transport to and from the Mainland. Flights will generally leave Stewart Island at 9.30 in the morning and 4.30 in the afternoon. 

Fares remain unchanged. 
Michael Goomes has been appointed the Company's Island agent and Michael will arrange tickets, bookings, and any other air charter or air taxi service you may require. In the not too distant future we hope to establish an office at Half¬moon Bay which will provide a gathering point for passengers and luggage, etc. 

In the months ahead Stewart Island Air Services used two Grumman Widgeons, ZK-AVM and ZK-BGQ.  These operated in Mount Cook Airlines' colours but had Stewart Island Air Services titles.

Above, Grumman Widgeon ZK-AVM at Invercargill on 7 September 1976. 
The second Widgeon used by Stewart Island Air Services was ZK-BGQ, again at Invercargill on 30 November 1976.

As the Widgeons were rebranded so were the timetables... A Mount Cook timetable altered for the new operator, ca September 1976.

Unfortunately for Stewart Island Air Services there was an appeal against the Stewart Island County Council’s decision to allow an aerodrome to be built at Ryan’s Creek. The Press of the 27th of September 1976 reported that The company has received formal notice of the appeal by the sole objector to the aerodrome construction, Mr A. E. Jones, of Christchurch. The appeal will be heard by the Town and Country Planning Appeal Board, and judging by recent experience at Invercargill, it might be two to three months before the board considers the appeal. Even then, its decision could be appealed against in the Supreme Court on a matter of law.

The company’s chairman (Mr W. G. Broughton) said that since May, the company had emphasised the urgent need to begin the aerodrome construction. There were three critical factors, Mr Broughton said: It would take 29 weeks to build the airstrip; the company’s lease of the amphibian aircraft lasted only until February; and although the company had a written contract with Mr H. Horrell for the aerodrome construction, it could not expect him, because of rising costs, to hold his price indefinitely because of the delays. “While we are exasperated with all the delays, particularly this latest one, we are still keen to build the airstrip,” Mr Broughton said. "Regrettably, the effect of all of this will be increased costs, which must be reflected in the fare.” Mr Broughton said that the company had to go through three air-licensing hearings instead of one (Mr Jones was associated with Rural Management, Ltd, of Christchurch, which also sought an air licence for Stewart Island), and it now had to go through appeals on town-planning matters.

On the 13th of December 1976 the Press reported that the Christchurch land-owner who had appealed the construction of the aerodrome had withdrawn his appeal that week.  Work on the construction of the aerodrome and strip will, weather permitting, begin on Monday. Mr Broughton said that passenger and freight loadings on the company’s Widgeon amphibian had almost doubled on that of the same period a year ago. The Stewart Island Air Services company began the service on September 4, 1975, the day after Mount Cook Airlines withdrew from flying to Stewart Island. The Widgeon, Mr Broughton said, made six or seven flights a day for five days of the week. It did not go to the island on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The amphibian service would continue to provide these services until the aerodrome was finished, in about three months, he said. In the meantime, the company had leased its nine-seat Britten Norman Islander to Mount Cook Airlines for three months.

Three months waiting for the completion of the Ryans Creek airstrip turned into 13 months and in that time the Britten Norman Islander, ZK-IAS, saw service with Mount Cook Airlines and later with the Auckland Aero Club. 

It’s first trip to Invercargill was on the 14th of December 1977 when it carried a new engine for the amphibian that had broken down. The following day it did a flew over Stewart Island. Graeme Noble, a director of Stewart Island Air Services said, the plane is capable of carrying nine passengers and the pilot, or one ton of freight. “It is the beginning of a great new era for the Stewart Island flight,” he said. On its trial flight from Invercargill to Stewart Island last night, the plane performed up to expectations. Several islanders were out in their backyards to wave a cherry greeting as it circled Halfmoon Bay. The airstrip being built on the island was flown over.

A scan of a photocopy of a photocopy. Graeme Noble, Keith Smith (directors), G McGreaty (the ferry pilot) and Captain M Donald stand in front of Islander IAS at Invercargill after its arrival from Auckland on the 14th of December 1977. Other directors included William Todd, Sam Nicol, Joe Cave, Bill Hazlet, Keith Smith, John Matheson, Warren Broughton, a Mr Jenkins and Harvey Forrest.

In the June 1979 issue of NZ Wings Martin Muller explained Delays in the Stewart Island land plane service were experienced, frustrating both the Stewart Islanders and the company. Work had to be stopped due to weather, and the whole job - which was estimated to take about three months - eventually took thirteen. The trouble centred around doing major earthworks during a wet winter.  Finally work was completed, with only sealing to be done. This has been put off in the meantime. Gravel has been laid which was sufficient for a Civil Aviation Licence, issued on January 19.

With the aerodrome licence granted Stewart Island Air Services' Britten Norman Islander ZK-IAS made a proving flight into Ryans Creek on the 20th of January 1978. The same day the final Widgeon services were operated by ZK-BGQ. Stewart Island Air Services' scheduled Britten Norman Islander service to the new 610m Ryans Creek airstrip started the following day,  the 21st of January 1978. Initially these flights offered twice a day.

Touchdown at last - the long awaited arrival of the Islander at Ryans Creek on 20 January 1978. Scheduled services commenced 21 January 1978. 

Early advertising of the BN Islander ZK-IAS before titles were painted on the aircraft.

Britten Norman Islander ZK-IAS in her original colour scheme at a gloomy Invercargill on 17 May 1978.

As Stewart Island Air Services had built the airstrip and was its owner it controlled landing rights and was able to keep other operators out. This was going to be a sore point for many years. By March 1978 Max Paulin had taken over as pilot manager. In the early days Lloyd and Beryl Wilcox of Stewart Island Travel, met the aeroplane at the strip, taking passengers, animals, post, newspaper and food to town by the yellow Ford Transits.

By March 1979 the Britten-Norman Islander ZK-IAS had been painted in a stunning red, white and black scheme. Over the summer season, from the 1st of October to the 31st of March, three flights a day were operated between Invercargill and Stewart Island with twice daily flights operated over the winter months. 

One of the more stunning colour schemes to see service in New Zealand... Britten Norman Islander ZK-IAS at Invercargill on 4 March 1979.

An undated Stewart Island Air Services all year around timetable, but I suspect post March 1979 as it features the Islander in the new scheme 

Additional advertising include with the timetable for the other Stewart Island tourist operators

Early in 1979 T. J. Edmonds Ltd's Piper PA23-250 Aztec E, ZK-TJE, (c/n c/n 27-7304985) was leased by Stewart Island Air Services and it was used to supplement the company's Britten Norman Islander on flights between Invercargill and Stewart Island. Meanwhile, the air service was extended to operate thrice daily over the summer season and later still to operate thrice daily all year around.

A slightly later undated Stewart Island Air Services' timetable with thrice daily flights over the summer months

In November 1979 Air New Zealand announced it would withdraw the Dunedin-Invercargill sector of its midday Wellington-Dunedin-Invercargill Boeing 737 service. Stewart Island Air Services saw this an opportunity to spread and its wings and applied to operate a weekday return service between Invercargill and Dunedin. The company initially indicated that it would introduce a De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter on the service but ultimately opted to use a Cessna 402B Utiliner, ZK-DSB. The Piper Aztec, ZK-TJE, was also used

The new service began on the 1st of April 1980. The flights departed Invercargill at 11.20am to arrive at Dunedin at 11.50am with the return service departing Dunedin at 12.25pm to arrive back in Invercargill at 12.55pm. Four passengers were flown to Dunedin on the first flight with five returning to Invercargill.

A Southland Times April Fools Day photo on the day of Stewart Island Air Service's first Invercargill-Dunedin service. Reprinted in NZ Wings, May 1980

What actually flew the Dunedin service, Stewart Island Air Services' Cessna 402 ZK-DSB over Invercargill

On the 14th of July the midday flights Invercargill-Dunedin flights were scrapped in favour of a twice daily return service on weekdays with flights leaving Invercargill at 8.00am and 4.00pm and leaving Dunedin at 9.00am and 5.00pm. The connection at Dunedin enabled business people from further north a fuller day of business in Invercargill.

Stewart Island Air Services' timetable to Dunedin and Stewart Island, effective 1 April 1981 with thrice daily flights to Stewart Island all year around

Wearing Stewart Island Air Services titles but operating Southern Air flights, Cessna 402B ZK-DSB (above) at Dunedin on the afternoon flight from Invercargill on 16 January 1981. I was rather surprised when a short time after the 402 arrived the Piper Aztec ZK-TJE (below) arrived on a courier flight from Invercargill.

On the 27 October 1980 disaster struck the company when the mainstay of the Stewart Island run, Islander ZK-IAS, crashed on approach to Ryans Creek following an encounter with windshear and turbulence on short finals. This aircraft was on a freight flight and the pilot, the only person aboard the plane at the time, was not injured. Newspaper coverage reported the accident occurred when the Islander.was coming in to land about 2.20 pm. ’As it landed it screwed over, skidding along for about 70 metres and came to rest on the edge of the runway at the Halfmoon Bay end of the airstrip. Constable B. E. McLeod, of Stewart Island, said the starboard propeller was twisted as a result of hitting the ground and both wings had been damaged. “The plane is extensively damaged,” he said. Mr W. N. G. Broughton, chairman of directors of Stewart Island Air Services, said there was ho prospect of the plane’s being flown off the island. The aircraft was disassembled and flown as an external load by helicopter from Stewart Island to Invercargill by AS350 Squirrel ZK-HMY on 3 November 1980 and was written off.

While a replacement aircraft was sought for the Stewart Island service Britten-Norman Islanders ZK-DBV and ZK-MCE were leased from Mount Cook Airlines to supplement Piper Aztec ZK-TJE operating to Stewart Island while the Cessna 402 ZK-DSB and at times ZK-TJE operated the service to Dunedin.  

On the 23rd day of December 1980 "Stewart Island Air Services Limited" changed its name to "Southern Air Limited" reflecting the airline's wider regional operation. 

A big thanks to Jordan Kean for his help on this piece.

24 April 2010

Golden Bay Air's Warrior

Further to my question whether Golden Bay Air's Warrior EQS had titles, Blue Bus of the NZ Civil Aircraft blog (http://www.nzcivair.blogspot.com/) sent this photo which answers the question. Rodney left a comment that it is used for scenic flights in the Takaka area but it has also been seen doing the scheduled service to Wellington when numbers are light.

Piper Pa28 Warrior ZK-EQS at Takaka on 14 February 2010. Photo : Blue Bus

23 April 2010

Golden Bay Air - End of Summer Season

The following note is on the Golden Bay Air website... "Our scheduled flights are seasonal. This year our flights cease on 18 April and recommence 22 September. Next season's schedule will be published by late May/early June. If you would like to be advised when bookings become available, please email us."

Golden Bay Air operate between Wellington and Takaka and Takaka and Karamea and use Piper Saratoga ZK-ZIG (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/02/spotted-at-wellington.html) and Piper Warrior ZK-EQS...

I would be interested to hear of anyone has sent ZK-EQS of late and if can they tell me whether EQS carries Golden Bay Air titles... Please, either leave a comment or e-mail me at westland831@gmail.com

Air Discovery East Coast Service 'Disappears'

Again, trawling around on Air Discovery's website I discovered their East Coast air service has 'disappeared' from the flights they offered. The air service was announced in the Gisborne Herald article below on 21 July 2009. One would have to say the service was never going to be a winner...

Bay of Plenty-based operator Air Discovery is offering unscheduled, as-required flights linking Gisborne, Tolaga Bay, Ruatoria, Waihau Bay, Opotiki, Whakatane and Tauranga. Pilot Daniel Gillett said the decision to extend passenger flight service to Tairawhiti was in response to the region’s need for an alternative travel solution to navigate across the region. “We fly on demand,” he said. Airstrip agreements have been signed and there are plans to include Te Araroa as part of the available flight locations. Air Discovery hoped to team with local operators to fly the legs closest to Gisborne, he said. “We are looking to strike an agreement with the Gisborne-based aircraft charter company, so our prices will be significantly less for flights to and from Gisborne, Tolaga Bay and Ruatoria,” Mr Gillett said. Prices begin from $199 per person on a minimum two-passenger flight. Flights around the Gisborne area are expected to cost more at this stage – around $500 for the more expensive flights. “If we have to ferry an aircraft from Whakatane to Gisborne, then obviously there is an expense to fly from there,” Mr Gillett said. Mr Gillett said although things were still “very much in the works”, feedback had been positive.
“At this stage the rate is good for any flights closer to our side (Whakatane and Tauranga) but everything else is more expensive than we would like.” As part of the plan to bring prices down, Mr Gillett hoped to eventually turn the as-required flights into a daily service. But it was “a numbers game”. “It’s going to start as an on-demand service but if we can work up the numbers, we will hopefully put in a daily scheduled flight service. If the numbers are there, we will look at a route we would fly every day. It would bring the flight down to possibly $50 between Ruatoria and Gisborne.” “It takes an awfully long time to get around the Coast in a car... I think there will be a big market for us flying trades-people around the East Cape, and of course there’s the tourist market as well,” he said.

He referred to workmen who recently needed to fly from Rotorua to Ruatoria to fix a mobile oxygen system. Mr Gillett had been aware of demand for alternative transport in East Cape for a while but the recent flight from Rotorua “basically confirmed it for us”.

Air Discovery was in contact with a number of accommodation providers regarding potential package deals for tourists. “There’s a real big interest regarding Waihau Bay for game fishing and a spot of hunting.” The flight service would be the first of its kind for the region in at least 20 years, Mr Gillett said. Air Discovery is expected to meet with Gisborne District Council regarding the potential airstrip use in Te Araroa on August 12.

FlyDirect - Change of Timetable and Aircraft...

I notice on the FlyDirect website a change of timetable as detailed below. Changes include Wellington getting 7 flights a week instead of 10 and Christchurch similarly having three flights per week cut from their schedule. The big change however is that the timetable can now be operated with one aircraft. The website says, "Our aircraft providers operate a 40-seat aircraft on our routes to Wanaka from Wellington and Christchurch" so it looks as if the Air Chathams Convair is getting the flick in favour of Vincent's Dash 8.

Flight Schedule - July 1 - October 5 2010

Flight Departs Arrives Frequency

Christchurch – Wanaka
FD101 1000 1045 Daily
FD107 1600 1645 Daily

Wanaka – Christchurch
FD102 0845 0930 Daily
FD108 1445 1530 Daily

Wellington – Wanaka
FD201 0645 0810 Daily

Wanaka – Wellington
FD202 1715 1840 Daily

21 April 2010

Jetstreaming with Air National...

Air National was founded in 1989 as a dedicated charter airline, initially trading as Menzies Aviation. In 1992 the company was renamed Air National Corporate Ltd and the following year added an Embraer Bandeirante to its fleet and began supporting scheduled regional airline services.

The company introduced its first British Aerospace J32EP Jetstream, ZK-ECN, the “City of Rotorua” to its fleet in. 1996. In 1997 it began using ECN for services between Auckland and Rotorua on behalf of Ansett New Zealand Regional. In September 2000 ECN was registered to Tasman Pacific Regional Airlines, operating with Tasman Pacific Connection titles and with their colours on the tail. It returned to Air National in July the following year.

A flagless ZK-ECN at Hokitika on 17 July 2009

ZK-ECP was added to Air National’s fleet on the 30th of July 1999. Like ECN it too had 10 months with Tasman Pacific Connection.

Above, BAe Jetstream 32 Enhanced Performance ZK-ECP as she first arrived in New Zealand at Hokitika on 5 September 1999, while below ECP reflects her time with Tasman Pacific Connection at Nelson, but back in Air National service, on 2 November 2001.

In January 2006 Air National commenced support services for Air New Zealand Link’s Eagle Air between Auckland and Kaitaia providing twice daily return services on weekdays. Later that year, in August, Air National also received a contract to fly Air New Zealand Link’s new Christchurch-Oamaru service (see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/01/31-december-2009-air-new-zealand-drops.html) as well as to fly one or two flights between Christchurch and Hokitika on a daily basis. To facilitate this, and other back up work for Eagle Air, Air National obtained three additional Jetstreams.

ECP, above, in what was the standard scheme at Hokitika on 10 September 2006 on a typically fine Hokitika day. Below, ECP has adopted an Origin Pacific blue belly, as seen at Christchurch on 25 July 2008

The first, ZK-ECI, has had several personas in New Zealand. It began as ZK-REY operating for Ansett Regional from March 1999 to the end of August 2000. It too saw service with Tasman Pacific Connection who reregistered it as ZK-TPC. Following the collapse of Qantas New Zealand it was unused for some time before being picked up by Origin Pacific who registered it ZK-JSU in May 2006. Following the subsequent collapse of Origin Pacific it again languished until purchased by Air National in July 2006. It was registered ZK-ECI and named “Spirit of Waitaki” and flew the inaugural Christchurch-Oamaru service.

ZK-ECI, the Spirit of Waitaki, at Kaitaia on 24 July 2008.

The other two Jetstreams had a similar journey through New Zealand companies. ZK-ECJ began life in New Zealand as ZK-RES with Ansett New Zealand Regional. It retained this registration with Tasman Pacific Connection before becoming ZK-JSR with Origin Pacific. It was registered to Air National as ZK-ECJ in July 2006. ZK-REW also did service with Ansett New Zealand Regional and Tasman Pacific Connection before going to Origin as ZK-JSQ. It was also registered to Air National on July 2006.

Above, ZK-ECJ at Wellington on 15 November 2007 with ZK-ECR below taken at Wellington on the following day, 16 November 2007.

At various times Air National’s Jetstreams, or ‘Sodastreams’ as the irreverent might call them, have been running regular services between Auckland and Taupo, Wellington and Wanganui, Wellington and Westport and Wellington to Blenheim and onto Christchurch as well as the routes mentioned above and for back up work for Eagle’s Beeches that are on maintenance or go unserviceable. With the economic recession these regular flights have all but disappeared. From my reckoning the only regular route the Jetstreams are used on is three days per week between Christchurch and Hokitika. The Christchurch based aircraft is swapped each Friday with a return Christchurch-Blenheim-Wellington service being flown.

With Eagle running a leaner service these days one wonders what work Air National will find for their Jetstreams in the future.

20 April 2010

Sunair’s Elusive Aztec

Sunair’s newest Aztec has been eluding me for some time but I finally caught in today at Hamilton. The Aztec arrived in New Zealand from Australia as VH-MTY in February last year (http://nzcivair.blogspot.com/2009/03/zk-pending.html) and was registered as ZK-MTY as Sunair’s ninth Aztec (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/03/aztecs-of-sunair.html). MTY carries small Sunair Aviation titles on the engine cowls.

19 April 2010

Sunair Changes

Sunair have a new timetable as shown on their website (www.sunair.co.nz). Changes include Palmerston North and Whakatane being dropped from their destinations while two new routes are listed. The first is a new Napier-Paraparaumu-Napier service. This service, which is primarily a courier run, has operated for some time. This is the first time, however, that it has appeared on their schedule as being available to passengers. Also listed on the schedule is a timetabled Whitianga-Great Barrier service.

Skyferry T-birds

Tri-motored aircraft are not unknown in New Zealand. The first trans-Tasman flight was flown by Charles Kingsford Smith in a tri-motored Fokker F.VIIb/3m, the Southern Cross. Mercury Airlines and later Great Barrier Airlines flew an Australian tri-motor De Havilland Australia Drover ZK-DDD. More well known was Air New Zealand’s fleet of tri-motored McDonnell Douglas DC-10s. Twenty years ago, this month, New Zealand saw the introduction another tri-motored aircraft, the Britten Norman Trislander.

Trislanders had been mooted for service in New Zealand before this. In 1973 NAC did a running cost comparison between two Trislanders as opposed to one Friendship. In 1980 Stewart Island Air Services evaluated the possibility of using a Trislander on its flights between Invercargill and Dunedin and Invercargill and Stewart Island. Neither evaluations came to anything. Eventually it was Skyferry who was first to introduce Trislanders to New Zealand skies with ZK-SFF starting flying their services between Wellington and Picton and Wellington and Blenheim on the 12th of April 1990. This was followed, much later than expected, by ZK-SFG in September that year.

Trislanders are long... ZK-SFF at Picton's Koromiko airport on 14 December 1990.

NZ Wings gave a good description of the Trislanders in the October 1990 issue; “The two unique aeroplanes are of Belgian manufacture, being put together at Gosselies in 1976 when Britten-Norman was part of the Fairey Group. As with their older cousins, the Islanders, the three-engined Trislanders were ferried "home" to Bembridge on the Isle of Wight for completion as -2 models with a long nose, droop flap and wing tip tanks. The impressive slim line commuters are powered by three 260 hp Lycoming 0-540 E4C5 engines, have a wingspan of 53 feet and a MAUW of 10,000 lbs.” Skyferry operated their Trislanders with two pilots with seating for 14 to 16 passengers depending on luggage.

By mid 1991, however, Skyferry was in serious trouble, the Trislanders contributing significantly to this. The company was placed in receivership on the 14th of July 1991 and at that time Cliff Marchant commented to NZ Wings that when they arrived the pair of Trislanders weren't in such good condition as at first thought. "They cost a lot to get running. ATD hit us with a lot of new requirements that weren't on existing operators. We took six months to get over that, and they relaxed the requirements in the end. The engineering staff were slow in getting the Trislanders going. They overdid the budget last year. Our sundry spares stock went from $40,000 to $250,000 in three months. We were stripped of working capital. In one year wages increased by 250 percent with only 25 per cent more work done. "We had a shootout with the engineering manager and in November went to Safe Air. As soon as the Trislanders went there for maintenance, things changed dramatically, with good reliability. They're an excellent organisation."

Spot the nose. ZK-SFG outside Safe Air at Blenheim's Woodbourne Airport, 15 December 1990.

With Skyferry in receivership the Trislanders were parked at Woodbourne and eventually sold in the UK, their New Zealand registrations cancelled on 23rd of December 1992. 10 years later, TO THE DAY, another Trislander was registered in New Zealand, ZK-LGR, being the first of Great Barrier Airlines Trislanders, but that is another story!

"When they arrived the pair of Trislanders weren't in such good condition as at first thought," Cliff Marchant said of the Skyferry Trislanders. I wonder if Great Barrier would say the same of ZK-LGF... It arrived on the 26th of November last year and is still to enter service. A just in case shot at North Shore on 6 March 2010.