29 February 2012

Ardmore last Tuesday and this Tuesday...

On the 21st of February 2012...

First stop was the cafe where as I looked down to Denis Thompson's I noticed DHC-2 Beaver ZK-BVR about to depart... (you should have been there Wayne!). Photos : S Lowe

Also out for a fly was Partenavia ZK-SMB. Photo : S Lowe
On the 28th of February 2012...

Sigh... *^%#!!!!!!!

26 February 2012

Gisborne Aero Club's Airline - Eastern Airlines

By the early 1970s computers were becoming more important for the banking industry. In these pre-internet days computer data was transferred on cards and tapes by road or air couriers. In 1971 Databank Systems were using NAC to carry the computer data from all the banks in the Gisborne and East Coast area to the Hamilton and Auckland computer centres. NAC’s timetable, however, meant the bank’s full day trading could not be processed overnight.

In 1971 the Gisborne Aero Club entered into negotiations with Databank Systems about the establishment of an overnight IFR air freight service from Gisborne for the carriage of computer data. Databank initially envisaged that the service would only operate to Hamilton but, with Hamilton’s reputation for fog and a 3% non-delivery clause in the proposed contract, the Aero Club negotiated for a Gisborne-Hamilton-Auckland service.

While Databank’s proposed contract price was not sufficient to cover all the costs for the service the Club was confident that they would attract enough passengers and freight to make the operation viable.

The Club initially hoped to begin services at the beginning of August 1971, however, a licence was not issued until early November 1971. Further delays in acquiring a suitable aircraft followed. While the Club awaited the delivery of their Piper Aztec the service began in February 1972 using the Nelson Aero Club’s Piper Pa23-160 Apache ZK-CHU which operated under visual flight rules.   

In the last week of March 1972 the Gisborne Aero Club’s 1968 model Piper Pa23-250 Aztec D, ZK-DHB (c/n 27-3735), arrived in New Zealand. Over the next three weeks the aircraft was prepared for service and crew trained. The Aztec took over the service operating the IFR service on the 18th of April 1972. This commercial division of the Aero Club’s activities was operated under the Eastern Airlines banner. Databank required flights to operate Monday to Friday northbound with the return flights operated on Tuesday to Saturday mornings. In addition to the Databank services a late afternoon Sunday return service was made to Hamilton with an extension of this service flown to Auckland if there were Hamilton-Auckland or Auckland-Gisborne passengers offering.

Eastern Airlines' timetable

The Gisborne Aero Club’s operations manager and chief pilot, Mr V J Bishop, was optimistic about the future and told NZ Herald the company would put on more services if it well and that “we envisage expanding to three aircraft, possibly getting the second by the end of this year.” In addition to the regular air service the Aztec was modified to take specialised equipped with stretchers and oxygen facilities making it one of only two It is also A-category air ambulance standard aircraft in the country at the time. It was also used for general charter work.

Eastern Airlines' Piper Aztec ZK-DHB at Wellington in 1972.

Owen Jones, a Hamilton-based LAME recounts a lucky escape the Aztec had in 1972. ZK-DHB had a total electrical failure after departing Auckland in bad weather one Saturday in 1972. It was lucky to survive. The pilot could only fly on his vacuum instruments and was extremely lucky to find a hole in the cloud near Huntly that enabled him to follow the road and rail to Hamilton. He had no electrical energy available at all. The battery was depleted so no radio transmission and of course no cell-phones back then. He could not have alerted the Hamilton control tower and they would not have been able to see the aircraft until he was on the ground (no lights showing). The weather was very drizzly with only a 600 foot cloud-base. He landed and taxied to NZ Aerospace Industries.

A lot of us worked on Saturdays and I was the LAME in charge of the Electrical Section. I found both alternators to be almost completely inoperative. Upon their removal from the engines and disassembly I found that both had failed due to the stator windings having worked loose due to vibration and the windings had chafed through their insulation and were shorting to the steel stator laminations. Fortunately we had a completely overhauled replacement alternator in stock and fitted that. The best of the failed units was fitted with a new stator, bench-tested and reinstalled on the aircraft.

Meanwhile, the aircraft battery had been removed and put on charge as it was completely discharged. After a few minutes on the charger it was obvious that it was beyond salvage. Hydrometer tests showed the electrolyte was like thin brown mud. This is indicative of a battery that is "plate shedding" due to being worn out, when the active material (lead peroxide) of the positive plates drops out of the grid lattice and falls to the bottom of the battery case (and goes into suspension in the electrolyte). A new fully-charged battery was installed.

Ground-running showed the electrical system to be fully functional again but the pilot insisted I go with him on a test-flight to check it all out in the air. He was so un-nerved by his experience earlier in the day.

The weather was still crap and still only a 600 foot cloud-base but he managed to get the tower to approve a special VFR test-flight and they directed the aircraft to do the test flying to the south-east of Hamilton airfield toward Cambridge. While the pilot stooged around just under the cloud, I operated all the electrical system switches and ensured each alternator was performing OK. We retuned to the workshop and I wrote up the log entries for the work done.
This emergency really was a close-call for the pilot and hopefully there will be an incident report filed somewhere about it and corresponding entries in the log books (whoever has them now).

The most important thing to learn from this was that the aircraft battery was in such a poor state that it likely had only about 10% capacity to hold charge. That means that when the alternators went dead the battery would have only lasted a few seconds or maybe just minutes. A battery in good condition (that means, for aircraft, having at least 75% capacity) would have enabled the pilot to load-shed non-essential services and make a radio call and get to Hamilton with sufficient electrical energy. Of course we don't know how long it was before the pilot detected the alternator failures, but regardless that battery which was in the aircraft should not have been in such a poor state.

The initial outlay of $45,000 for the Piper Aztec was a huge investment for the Aero Club. On top of this Eastern Airlines was also required to charge 10% more than NAC which also flew the same route and this made the service less attractive for passengers. Unfortunately for the Aero Club passenger loadings and additional freight levels were not adequate to meet the shortfall between the Databank contract price and the operating costs. 

Soon the Club was in serious financial difficulties and this ultimately led to the appointment of a liquidator who wound up the club and Eastern Airlines. The final service was flown Gisborne-Auckland-Ardmore-Gisborne on the 20th of October 1972 followed by a 15 minute "Goodbye Gisborne" low level flight later that day. 

25 February 2012

For all the pilots out there

An ex-American Airlines left seater (Captain) experience,

This is a great illustration of what we were taught about scanning outside the cockpit when I went through training back in the '50s. We were told to scan the horizon for a short distance, stop momentarily, and repeat the process. I can remember being told why this was the most effective technique to locate otheraircraft. It was emphasized repeatedly to not fix your gaze for more than a couple of seconds on any single object. The instructors, some of whom were WWII veterans with years of experience, instructed us to "keep our eyes moving and our head on a swivel" because this was the best way to survive, not only in combat, but from peacetime hazards (like a midair collision) as well.

We basically had to take the advice on faith (until we could experience for ourselves) because the technology to demonstrate it didn't exist at that time.

Now it does....see the link below.


Fleet Additions

According to the NZ aircraft register here have been three fleet additions to NZ operators...

Sunair has added Cessna 172M ZK-CBZ to its fleet joining Cessna 172s ZK-DHN, ZK-DKK and ZK-TAB.

Salt Air has added Bell 206B Jetranger ZK-ISW to its rotary fleet.

British Aerospace Jetstream 32 ZK-ECJ is now registered to Airwork. This ex-Air National machine was registered to Vincent Aviation who have operated it for Air National as well as in their own right. There was a rumour some time ago that Airwork have bought Air National. Perhaps this is the first indication of this???

24 February 2012

25 Years ago - February 1987

These days Boeing 767-200s are a rare sight in New Zealand... but in February 1987 they were a common sight in New Zealand... Above, Air New Zealand's ZK-NBC at Christchurch on 2 February 1987 and below Qantas' VH-EAN on 28 February 1987. Photo : S Lowe

An exotic visitor to Christchurch was Skyworld's Boeing 707-323B N712PC. Photo taken on 6 February 1987 by S Lowe

Being used by Air New Zealand was Royal Brunei's Boeing 737-2M6 V8-UEB. It had a stint with LAN Chile after this photo was taken and the following year it returned to Air New Zealand as ZK-NAZ. There are small Air NZ titles behind the airstairs. Photo taken at Christchurch on 28 February 1987 by S Lowe
At Koromiko on the 6th of February 1987 was Skyferry's Cessna 208 Caravan ZK-SFA. Photo : S Lowe
While the next day Fieldair Freight's Douglas DC-3 was captured at Omaka. Photo taken on 7 February 1987 by S Lowe
A sad fate fo Safe Air's Bristol Freighter ZK-CAM. Photo taken at Woodbourne on 7 February 1987 by S Lowe

22 February 2012

Branded Chathams Pacific Convair

Wayne Grant sent these great pictures of Air Chathams' Convair ZK-CIF now sporting Chathams Pacific titles. The first "i" in Pacific sports the palm tree as in the logo above. Similar script is found on their DC-3, ZK-AWP (see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2011/01/a3-land-10-days-in-tonga.html). Photos taken at Auckland on 22 February 2012 by W Grant.

21 February 2012

What Level of Cancellation is Acceptable?

Eagle Air is working to reduce the number of flight cancellations at Blenheim airport, Air New Zealand says. A flight out of Blenheim to Wellington was cancelled on Sunday, affecting several people who had been in Blenheim for the wine and food festival at the weekend. Eagle Air is the Air NZ subsidiary that operates flights to Blenheim. Air New Zealand spokeswoman Tracey Palmer said the flight had been cancelled because of crew sickness. Eagle Air had cancelled 3.9 per cent of its scheduled services into and out of Blenheim during the past two months, because weather affecting the network around the country, higher-than-usual crew sickness and engineering requirements, she said. "This percentage is higher than we'd like and the Eagle Air team is working hard to reduce that." Aviation sources said there was a shortage of the Beechcraft 1900D planes that served Blenheim because five were out of action having their engines replaced. However, Ms Palmer said only one Beechcraft was on the ground for scheduled maintenance, which included planned engine replacement. It was expected to be back in service in a week. The engines on other planes had been also been replaced during the past few months. Pratt and Whitney, which makes the engines for the Beechcraft, announced yesterday at the Singapore Aviation Show that it had signed a 60+ Engine Fleet Enhancement Programme agreement with Air New Zealand, which would carry out a "new for old" engine exchange programme on all Pratt and Whitney engines in the airline's Beech 1900D and ATR72-500 planes. The engines go back to Pratt and Whitney in Canada. "For operators like Air New Zealand, a fleet enhancement programme is a cost-effective alternative to the option of overhauling high-time engines," a Pratt and Whitney spokesman said. There were benefits to the operator with such a replacement programme, including having a factory-fresh engine that featured the latest in technology and a standard new-engine warranty. Ms Palmer said Air NZ had a limited ability to do anything about the weather, but was working to boost key maintenance engineering ability during the day. Most Beechcraft maintenance is done in Hamilton at night. It had also adjusted the timings of some regional services as part of its regular scheduling programme.

19 February 2012

Gisborne's Aotearoa Airlines

Having returned from flying in Malay­sia Steve Stanaway and his wife Donna established Aotearoa Airlines Ltd in early 1997. Both had previous experience in the aviation industry: Steve as a Metroliner training captain for Eagle Air at Gisborne and Donna also having worked for Eagle Air and at Air New Zealand's travel centre. The company planned to establish twice-daily services to Napier and Hamilton from its Gisborne base. Before beginning operations market research indicated there was a demand for direct flights to Hamilton and that local business people wanted direct flights rather than having to transit and wait in Auckland for connecting flights.

Gisborne Herald, 17 January 1997

In preparation for the service Northern Commuter Airlines made their Piper Pa31-350 Chieftain, ZK-NCA (c/n 31-7405203), with the company using Christian Aviation's Air Operators Certificate. The aircraft was repainted and local business, Gisborne Aero Maintenance, was charged with looking after the aircraft’s maintenance requirements. Ardmore-based Christian Aviation, experienced Chieftain operators, not only provided the Air Operator’s Certificate, but were also engaged to help manage flight operations during the early stages of the company’s operations to ensure a quality service. Three other pilots were also employed. A check-in counter and reservations office was established at the Gisborne airport terminal.

Aotearoa Airlines' Piper Chieftain ZK-NCA at Hamilton on 16 April 1997.

Services between Gisborne and Hamilton began on the 10th of February 1997 with the inaugural service being flown by Captain Alex Blunt and First Officer Martin Wenzlick. The company offered two return services being each weekday, morning and evening, between the centres and the initial response to the service was positive and bookings were steady.

Gisborne Herald, 11 February 1997

Following the collapse of United Aviation that had operated the Napier Gisborne service a number of people requested Aotearoa Airlines to fill the gap. On the 28th of July 1997 Aotearoa Airlines responded to the need and offered two return flights each weekday to Napier. Timetables were altered to fit in the new service allowing customers to connect with the airline's existing Gisborne to Hamilton flights.

During the year an approach was made to the airline by the elders of the Ruatoria community seeking a regular air service to their area On the 4th of August 1997 Aotearoa Airlines introduced a morning and afternoon return service between Gisborne and Ruatoria on weekdays using Cessna U206C Stationair ZK-JCB (c/n U206-0922). Flights were scheduled to connect to Air New Zealand Link flights to and from Auckland and Wellington. Steve Stanaway told the Gisborne Herald his company was committed to the East Coast area and could see its tourists potential. “The airline sees this expansion as a positive development for both the Gisborne and Ruatoria communities, particularly in the build-up to the Year 2000.”

Aotearoa Airlines' timetable, effective 28 July 1997

Cessna 206 ZK-JCB which was used for the Ruatoria service. Photo taken at Hokitika on 27 August 1993.

On the 3rd of September 1997 the Gisborne Herald carried the news that Aotearoa Airlines had ceased operating due to several factors which made it unviable to continue. Steve Stanaway said “he made the decision to stop operations late last week due to load factors being uneconomic and high maintenance costs being unsustainable.”

People Included:
Louise Abbott - Traffic
Alex Blunt - Pilot
Ashley Coldham - Pilot
Mike Ellis - Pilot
Rhys James - Pilot
Darryl Robertson - Pilot
Donna Stanaway - Director
Steve Stanaway - Pilot, Director, General Manager
Katrina Tauroa - Traffic
Martin Wenzlick - Pilot

On 9 September 1997, a few days after the service ended the Chieftain was at Nelson.  

18 February 2012

Tauranga Airliners

Throughout Tauranga's Classic Flyer Air Show normal air service traffic continued... I was quite pleased to get a photo of each of the 'airline' operators flying into Tauranga

Eagle Air's All Black Beech 1900 ZK-EAK made a couple of visits. Photos taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

Air Nelson's Bombardier Q300 ZK-NEH off to Wellington. Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

Off on what is probably the shortest air route in New Zealand, Adventure Aviation's Cessna TU206A Stationair operating an Island Air flight to Motiti Island. It carries Adventure Aviation titles under the front window. Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe
The other operator to Motiti is Sunair - At last I got it there Cessna 172N Skyhawk ZK-TAB parked in a position to get a side on photo. It carries small Sunair titles on the engine cowl. Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

16 February 2012

Timaru Flight Changes

Air New Zealand has changed the timing of a mid-morning weekday flight into Timaru in a national review of flight schedules. The weekday flight that previously left Wellington at 9.05am now leaves at 10.10am. It arrives in Timaru at 11.25am – an hour later than the previous timetable. The return service departs at 11.45am, 35 minutes later than its previous 11.10am departure. The 6.45am week-day flight from Timaru to Wellington has also been rescheduled and will fly out at 6.50am from February 27. A spokesman said the timings of a number of regional services had been adjusted as part of a twice-yearly scheduling programme. The airline said schedule changes had been listed on the airline's website. Air New Zealand has added two flights to its Timaru schedule in the past 12 months. It flies out of Timaru 22 times a week. Aoraki Development Business and Tourism chief executive Wendy Smith said she would talk to Eagle Air if the change in schedule caused any issues. "The reality is the majority of business-related flights are the early flights. "The key for us is if we can get to Wellington." However, Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew says visiting MPs will now have to fly into Christchurch to complete their duties. "It's a difference of an hour, but it makes quite a difference putting an agenda together for a day. I'm certainly having to request other options for visiting MPs. It doesn't work for me."

15 February 2012

Tauranga Gliders

More from the Tauranga air show... this time a couple of "gliders" of the motorised variety...

Pipistrel Sinus, ZK-GIM... photos taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

Another Pipistrel Sinus, though this time with a tricycle undercarriage as opposed to being a tail dragger. ZK-GPI was taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

14 February 2012

UTA Douglas DC-6

John Wegg has sent this classic photo of UTA's Douglas DC-6, F-BHMR... his question is...

was this taken at Whenuapai???

Sport Aviation Association at Tauranga - Part 8

Aviat A-1C-180 ZK-TWA put on a great display. Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

Dyn' Aero MCRO1 Club ZK-WIK... the only aircraft in this post I photographed before. Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

Bede BD-5B was up and flying... the first time I've seen a Bede fly! Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

Vans RV-3 ZK-XRD flew down from Ardmore for the day. Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

Vans RV 12 ZK-YRV on its way to Whitianga. Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

Europa XS ZK-ZEB at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

13 February 2012

Sport Aviation Association at Tauranga - Part 7

Tecnam P2002 Sierra on the taxi... Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe
I am not sure if SST stands for Super Sonic Transport or not, however, Vans RV-8 ZK-SST certainly has loads of grunt. Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

Czech Aircraft Works Sportcruiser ZK-SXY was on static display. Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

Pazmany PL-2 ZK-TLP looking rather smart in the morning sun. Photo taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe

Tecnam P92 Echo ZK-TRD taken at Tauranga on 28 January 2012 by S Lowe