31 July 2011

Economic and Efficient Travel - Northern Air

Northern Air was the trading name of North Island Air Services Ltd a private company established by Keith Madden and Dave McAlister and incorporated on the 4th of April 1995. Northern Air started life as a charter operator, flying school and aircraft sales centre but with a particular focus in offering scenic tours for international travellers who only had a few days break in New Zealand and in training pilots from the start to being ready to enter directly into a commercial operation. 

Cessna 177B Cardinal, ZK-DJK, at Auckland on 10 November 1996.

The company commenced operating from Auckland to Great Barrier Island in competition with Great Barrier Airlines and Air National’s Great Barrier Express during winter 1996. Initially the service operated five days a week, with a single return flight offered on Mondays and Fridays and two return flights offered on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. By the end of the 1996 the timetable had been increased to two daily return flights offered from Auckland early in the morning and late in the afternoon. 

Northern Air timetable, 6 October 1996

Cessna U206C Stationair ZK-JCB at Auckland on 8 March 1997.

Northern Air, which branded its timetables with “fly the friendly airline” or “for economic or efficient travel”, told the Barrier Bulletin that it “aims to offer standard economical fares with no strings attached.” Northern Air operated a variety of single-engined and twin-engined aircraft in its fleet and each day the aircraft to be used for that day was selected in response to the passengers offering. The company sought to offer the cheapest fares possible to the island and as a launch incentive offered flights for $78 for Great Barrier Island residents. A flight centre was built at Claris airfield with building materials being transported to the island in the company’s Nomad.

Barrier Bulletin, December 1996
The friendly airline expected friendly passengers - check out the condition marked!

In addition to the Great Barrier run Northern Air took over The Air Charter Company’s courier service in October 1997. The courier run saw an early morning flight from depart from Auckland for Tauranga, Rotorua and Taupo. In the evening the aircraft returned to Auckland from Taupo via Rotorua, and Hamilton.

The Partenavias were often used for the courier run. Above, ZK-DMA taken at Auckland on 10 August 1996 by M Beaven and below, ZK-LAL taken at Tauranga on 8 October 1998
There was a real dogfight on the Auckland-Claris service during the years Northern Air operated. During this time Air National’s Great Barrier Express service ceased and Trans Island Air’s Cessna Grand Caravan service started and ended. The competition it experienced from Great Barrier Airlines and later Mountain Air, however, was too much. This and in-house fighting forced Northern Air to cease operating its air services in November 1998. At that time the directors, Keith Madden and Dave McAlister, described events leading up to their decision as "an untenable working relationship" between them. With the closure of the airline an interim Statement of Affairs showed Northern Air to have had a deficiency of almost $100,000 from its estimated asset realisation. The courier run and some of Northern Air’s aircraft were subsequently taken over by Great Barrier Airlines.

GAF N22 Nomad out at Parakai on 28 November 1996.
Barrier Bulletin, September 1998

Northern Air’s Fleet included:

Cessna 152 Aerobat
ZK-ETW (c/n 15285059)

Cessna 172N Skyhawk
ZK-JMB (c/n 17270039)

Cessna 177B Cardinal
ZK-DJK (c/n 17701862)
ZK-DFV (c/n 17701662)

Cessna U206C Stationair
ZK-JCB (c/n U206-0922)

Cessna 210 Centurion
ZK-NPD (c/n 21060331)

Cessna 421 Golden Eagle
ZK-ZAQ (c/n 421C0060)

GAF N22 Nomad
ZK-SNZ (c/n N22C-104)

Partenavia P68
ZK-DMA (c/n 68)
ZK-ERA (c/n 123)
ZK-FUZ (c/n 327)
ZK-LAL (c/n 70)

Piper Pa31 Navajo
ZK-VNA (c/n 31--8212003)

Piper Pa32-260 Cherokee 6
ZK-NOW (c/n 32-402)

Piper Pa32R 300 Lance
ZK-FMO (c/n 32R-7780023)

Piper Pa39 Twin Commanche
ZK-ERH (c/n 39-140)

30 July 2011

Air New Zealand Link Paraparaumu Preparations

Bombardier Q300's are set to hit the tarmac for the first time next week at Kapiti Coast Airport as Air Nelson conduct their first training flights in Kapiti. The flights will help Air Nelson crew to familiarise with the new domestic destination, ironing out their flight and ground handling procedures at the airport. Air Nelson, a subsidiary of Air New Zealand, will run 18 return flights a week between Kapiti and Auckland, starting on October 25, using the 50 seater Q300 aircraft. Airport director Sir Noel Robinson said it was exciting to have the planes ready to train at the airport, and comes after plenty of hard work brought the airport up to standard. "We've had the runway upgrade, the terminal, all of our systems changing," Sir Noel said. "We are almost there. It is all very exciting." The training flights will be for crew only, no passengers on board. Air Nelson general manager Grant Kerr said when services begin, business people and leisure travellers were expected to snap up the flights. Weekday flights would appeal to business people travelling between Kapiti and Auckland, and to those connecting to international flights out of Auckland. Sir Noel said once flights have started in October work will begin to bring more companies to the airport, improving the aviation industry in Kapiti. "It will bring more interest, jobs. It will boost the economy. We just need to attract those businesses to the airport." The airport company is in the final stages of negotiations with five businesses to lease space in a new building, near Mitre 10 Mega. Chief executive Steve Bootten said discussions were delayed after the Christchurch earthquakes, with the nationwide businesses having to deal with Canterbury issues. He confirmed that a Foodstuffs company would be opening a "mini- market" in the new building, but could not name any of the businesses who would take up leases. "We should be able to announce that fairly soon," he said.

29 July 2011

Vincent Aviation's Timor Service

A new air service has been set up to serve the Darwin – East Timor route, with Timor Air now offering a daily service, using SAAB 340B aircraft. Timor Air’s administration headquarters will be based in the capital Dili, with Australian and New Zealand company Vincent Aviation providing technical and engineering services to the planes in Darwin. The airline has employed Timorese cabin crew, customer relations officers and ground crew.

Wayne Grant captured Timor Air's Saab ZK-VAA as it passed through Auckland on the 14th of January 2011.

28 July 2011

Auckland and Ardmore on Tuesday

Pacific Aerospace CT/4 Airtrainer ZK-DGY about to taxi at Ardmore on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe
Up for retirement and replacement by a Boeing 737-800 early next year is Air Pacific's Boeing 767-300ER DQ-FJC. It is seen taxiing for Nadi at Auckland on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe
No, its not the IRB getting ready for the Rugby World Cup - or is it? MD 500E is registered to Skysales Aviation of Christchurch and is seen here at Ardmore on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe
Locally owned Cessna 172M Skyhawk at Ardmore on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe
Auckland-based Falcon 900EX is owned by Sleepyhead NZ Ltd and was on the move for some engine tests... unfortunately the cloud cover came just as it taxied past. Taken at Auckland on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe
Air New Zealand's Boeing 747-400 ZK-NBW on the taxi at Auckland on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe
The most recent of Air New Zealand's Airbus 320s ZK-OJQ at Auckland on the 26th of July 2011. . Photo : S Lowe
Great Barrier Airlines' BN2A Islander ZK-REA at Auckland on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe
Got it at last... Boeing 737-300 ZK-SJE without its Pacific Wave at Auckland on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe

On air ambulance duties was Air Manawatu's Cessna 421 Golden Eagle, ZK-TRC, at Auckland on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe

Qantas Airbus 330 VH-EBH on the taxi at Auckland on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe
A new Jetstar Airbus 320 for me, VH-VGY at Auckland on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe
Qantas 26 operateed by Jetconnect's Boeing 737-800 rolls on runway 23 at Auckland on the 26th of July 2011. Photo : S Lowe

26 July 2011

NZ's Newest King Air

Photographed by Wayne Grant at Auckland on the 25th of July 2011 is New Zealand's newest King Air C90, ZK-ZZA. He also captured it arriving into the country on the 23rd of May 2011 in its American registration, N90NZ... http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2011/05/another-king-air-for-new-zealand.html

23 July 2011

A lovely day at Ardmore

Tuesday provided a perfect day in terms of runway and sunlight for planespotting at Ardmore... The following is a selection of some of the pics I took...

First up, the nice looking...
ZK-JAX, a Tecnam P2008 is classified as a Class 2 Mircolight. Certainly a sharp looking  looking aircraft. Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe

Once DIG, then CMA, now ALI, ZK-ALI would have to be the nicest Cessna Cardinal in NZ. Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe

X Flight Ltd's Extra EA 300/L is certainly loaded with power...Aerobatic flights start from $ 295... http://www.xflight.co.nz/flights.aspx. Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe
You've gotta love Beech Barons... N298WA rolls after a brief visit. There were 3 US registered Beeches on the field at the same time. It would nice to see them on the ZK register but from what I understand this devalues them too much. Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder... nonetheless German built Remos G3NZ seemed a nice little performer. Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe 
A long distance shot across the airfield, heavily cropped of Bell Longranger ZK-ICV...  Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe 
On the military side, an Airtourer, a Strikemaster and a Skyhawk!

AESL Airtourer ZK-CPG, ex RNZAF NZ1762... Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe 
BAC 167 Strikemaster ZK-STR, ex RNZAF NZ6370... wonderful to see it in NZ skies again. Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe 
Not the kind of Skyhawk you were thinking of??? Cessna 172R Skyhawk ZK-JLY... an apt photo for July. Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe 
And some of the training types...

A relative rarity amongst training types at Ardmore is the Piper Tomahawk. Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe .
One wonders how long the Auckland Aero Club will keep using their Grumman American AA-1C Lynx aircraft. ZK-FVA was busy in the circuit. Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe .

Ex Massey Aviation Piper PA-28-161 Warrior ZK-MBH is now with Eagle Flight Training. Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe .
One or Ardmore Flying School's squadron of Cessna 172s, ZK-LAT. Taken at Ardmore on 19 July 2011 by S Lowe .

22 July 2011

Paraparaumu Developments - 50 years ago

While Air New Zealand Link prepare to start Q300 services to Paraparaumu in October, 50 years ago NAC was looking to develop Paraparaumu as a diversionary airport for Viscounts flying into the capital...

When Viscounts were first introduced airlines were not permitted to make allowance during landing for the anti-skid brakes fitted to this aircraft. This meant that, under normal New Zealand conditions, landing runs of 4,560 ft by day or 5,000 ft by night were required, both at all-up permissible weight of 58,500 lb. At Paraparaumu the main runway has a total of 4,850 ft, of which only 4,600 ft is effective. Whilst this would be marginal by day, it is impossible to use the field for night operations, consequently the only available, alternative field in the Wellington area was at Palmerston North. After several years' use of anti-skid brakes, which proved their reliability, the required landing run was reduced in January, 1961, to 4,200 ft. The Corporation then focused its attention on Paraparaumu as a possible diversionary airfield and application was made .to CAA for permission to use Paraparaumu for Viscounts as an alternative for Wellington. Investigations are being carried out to learn whether the varying strength of the runway is sufficient to cater for Viscounts. The Corporation is hopeful that the airfield will be cleared for operations. To eliminate the possibility of stones being drawn into the engines, if is expected that some work will be done on the runway and taxi-ways at a cost yet to be ascertained. Certain work will also have to be carried out on other facilities to cope with additional passengers processed through the airport. Based on a complete year of operations through Wellington, only 0.5% of scheduled Viscount flights were diverted to Palmerston North. This figure represents less than 100 diversions a year. The Borgeson report on the development of Wellington Airport drew attention to the fact that eventually Paraparaumu must be developed as an alternative to Wellington. It described the two airports as "complementary". However, the international use of Wellington Airport has influenced the policy on Paraparaumu to a large degree in that the present Paraparaumu field, while possibly suitable for all internal operations, cannot be developed to international standards. Therefore tentative plans have been drawn to consider a new international airport north of the present Paraparaumu strip. From the Corporation's point of view, we are primarily interested in a diversionary airfield for Viscounts and there are many problems of finance and control which may not be resolved for some years. In addition, and again from an internal operator's viewpoint, it is felt that, if any large sum is to be spent by the Government on airfield development within the next five years, then this same should be devoted to providing sealed fields at those places where the Corporation plans to operate Friendships. This would allow the complete withdrawal of DC-3 services.

Source : NAC Skylines, June 1961

Sunair Change

Noted on Sunair's website is the fact the company no longer offers flights to and from New Plymouth. The service to and from New Plymouth, with onward connections to Rotorua, Tauranga, Gisborne and Napier has been on and off again over the years.

21 July 2011

Vincent Aviation Start Greymouth "Service"

"New air service takes off" - so reads the headline in the Greymouth Evening Stat on the 11th of July 2011. Vincent Aviation are offering flights from Greymouth to Wellington on a Monday and from Wellington to Greymouth on a Friday while the Pike River Royal Commission is in session using either their Jetstream or Dash 8 aircraft. One presumes the southbound Monday flight and the northbound Friday flight are chartered for those involved with the Royal Commission.

Greymouth Evening Star, 8 July 2011

The caption of the photograph of the first flight, however, noted that "depending on demand, further flights will be scheduled." Meanwhile the Friday flight had to operate out of Hokitika, the Jetstream not being able to lift the number of passengers off Greymouth's runway. Subsequent adverts offered a school holiday return fare of $300.

Meanwhile, speaking of the Royal Commission, my Hokitika spies tell me Air Nelson canned their Q300 flight into Hokitika for both Mondays the Inquiry has been on meaning road transport for a lot of people trying to get to the Coast for the Inquiry. It seems to me when there is only morning flight to a destination like Hokitika would it not be better to can a flight to Nelson for example... its easier to move passengers by air to Nelson. If Air NZ Link wants bums on seats out of the smaller ports they need to be seen to offer a consistent service which looks at options before being quick to cancel leaving people with a load drive and shattered arrangements. 

Vincent's Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH at Greymouth on the first flight of its new "service" on the 11th of July 2011. Photo : Greymouth Evening Star

20 July 2011

Air 2 There at Auckland!

A rare visit to Auckland this afternoon by Air 2 There's Cessna 208B Caravan ZK-MYH.  As ATT03, the 208 arrived direct from Christchurch and after a short time on the ground departed for the airline's Paraparaumu base.

Departing Wellington's runway 34 in December 2010, MRC photo