31 July 2018

Remember the Viscounts...

Thanks to Gary from California who has contributed these two February 1973 photos of NAC Vickers Viscount ZK-BRD, one during boarding on the tarmac at Christchurch and another cruising past Timaru enroute to Invercargill.  

35 years on 66 seat turbo-props fly between Christchurch and Invercargill, albeit of another generation... Sadly I never got to fly on a Viscount

27 July 2018

Great Kapiti Support

Nearly 2000 seats on Air Chathams have already been booked between Paraparaumu and Auckland ahead of its launch next month - a strong indication of the support Kapiti has for the regional airline. Air Chathams’ founder Craig Emeny and Duane Emeny, General Manager, will be speaking at the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce’s Business Lunch on the 9th of August about their plans for the district. Heather Hutchings, Chair of the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce, wants the business communities from Horowhenua through to Porirua to give the airline a warm welcome. “Air Chathams is a fast-growing regional airline, known for its exceptional customer service, convenience and competitive fares. The flights from Kapiti are incredibly business-friendly, with 36 frequent flights to and from Auckland each week. “The recent Colmar Brunton research commissioned by the Kāpiti Coast District Council revealed there is significant untapped potential in Horowhenua and Porirua for travellers. They found in the last 12 months:
  1. More than 44,000 trips to and from Auckland originating from the Kapiti Coast flew via Wellington
  2. More than 11,000 trips to and from Auckland originating from Horowhenua flew via Wellington
  3. More than 85,000 trips to and from Auckland originating from Porirua flew via Wellington
Duane Emeny, General Manager of Air Chathams, is excited by the prospects of operating from Kāpiti. “Initial bookings are trending positively with the first seats sold within minutes of the Kapiti to Auckland service announcement. The airline has sold just under 2000 seats already with another three weeks until launch on August 20. It gives us real confidence that Kapiti residents, and those abroad, are aware of our good reputation and booking seats early with Air Chathams' new Kapiti service". The large number of early bookings is also an indication of the strength of Kapiti’s economy. “Our economy is outperforming the Wellington regions. Last year we grew by 2.7% compared to 2.2% across the wider region. Infrastructure like these daily flights will be vital in shaping our economy - particularly alongside the opportunities major developments like Transmission Gully offer” says Heather Hutchings, Chair of the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce. Wayne Maxwell, Kāpiti Coast District Council CEO, will also speak about the coast’s fantastic economic prospects at the business lunch which will be held at Southwards on the 9th of August at 12 pm. Every person attending the lunch has a chance to win a return flight to Auckland on Air Chathams. The Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce exists to advance the economy by creating wealth and employment and solve local business issues by providing a collective voice for business in Kāpiti. Over 300 members in Kāpiti belong to the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce to stay connected, network and gain knowledge and support from our local membership.

Press Release: Kapiti Coast Chamber Of Commerce

23 July 2018

A Glimpse of the Future

As posted earlier in the week Whakatane received its first Air Chathams' Saab 340 flights over the weekend with ZK-KRA operating Air Chathams' flight 3C 826 from Auckland to Whakatane on Saturday 21 July 2018. This is the first of what Air Chathams and the Whakatane District Council hope will be a regular sight on peak services to Whakatane. The Saab returned to Auckland on Sunday 22 July 2018 as flight 3C 833. 

Thanks to Mark Stout for allowing me to use his photos

The first Saab 340 flight into Whakatane on a scheduled service, ZK-KRA on 21 July 2018

Earlier the day Mark caught Air Chathams' Metro 23 ZK-POF departing Whakatane for Auckland

Sunair's Whangarei Developments

Northlanders aspiring to become airline pilots need not go far with the opening of a fully-fledged flying school in Whangārei. Tauranga-based domestic carrier Sunair is obtaining the necessary regulatory approval for the school, to be based at the old aero club in Onerahi, where the company already has an office. Sunair has a contract with the Northland District Health Board to fly medical personnel from Whangārei to Kaitaia and back every day. Based on public demand, its six-seater planes also operate between Whangārei, Great Barrier Island, Hamilton and Tauranga. Director Bev Power said the company hoped to have the flight training school in Whangārei up and running in four to six weeks. "The only flight training school at present for the people of Northland is in Auckland. We felt there was a possibility for something like that in Northland. We've got flight instructors and have done a bit of research around high schools, and the feedback we've received is people are keen," she said. The school will offer private as well as commercial pilots' courses. Sunair has a similar school based at the Tauranga Aero Club which high school students attend to get a head start in flying. Power said two flight instructors were in Whangārei and the company had the ability to send more if needed. Sunair will use its four-seater Cessna 172 planes in the new flight training school which will initially cater for 10 people. There was such a massive shortage of pilots worldwide that airlines were training people in the field, Power said. "When we started the company, we could hold pilots for two to four years abut now they are gone in one year. The shortage of pilots is due to an expansion of airlines. "Qatar Airways, for example, is adding something like 30 places to its fleet every year and then you see the number of airlines flying to and from Asia, particularly China these days." Power said there was an investment in becoming an airline pilot but the rewards were great. The estimated cost of obtaining a private pilot licence with Sunair would be about $12,000 and there may be additional fees for medicals, exams and Civil Aviation Authority charges. The cost includes about 60 hours of flying time. To advance to a commercial pilot licence with an additional 140 hours' flight time, the approximate cost is $28,000. Each course will take three months for a full-time student to finish. "While, with full time study, each licence may take as little as three months, it is suggested that it can take around two years to gain all the qualifications to be ready for an airline to snaffle you up," Power said. People can register their interest in any of the courses by calling Sunair on 07 575 7799.

Source : https://www.nzherald.co.nz/northern-advocate/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503446&objectid=12088622

Meanwhile there seems to be little activity in regards to the airline. I noticed a post on their Sunair Facebook page about Hamilton-Gisborne services but then realised it was July 2017! The post needs to be unpinned from the top of their page. Meanwhile on three late running flights from Hamilton to Wellington an announcement has come over the PA for passengers travelling to Gisborne to go strait to gate number whatever... An expensive way to fly HLZ-GIS! 

20 July 2018

A Sounds Air Sort of Day

It was an early start this morning to catch Sounds Air flight S8 801 from Taupo to Wellington this morning with a 6.20am departure! YAWN!

On descent in Wellington 

My ride to Wellington, Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLX...
...with the flight from Westport parked in front of us, Pilatus PC12 ZK-PLT
In the afternoon Cessna Grand Caravan ZK-SAA was about to launch for Blenheim

And after it departed we boarded S8 812 back to Taupo in ZK-PLT

Departing Middle Earth and flying into the Murk
Over the Murk
And clearing skies for the descent into Taupo

Lake Rotongaio

And a sunnier day at Taupo than in Wellington
I'm looking forward to flying Sounds Air again in September... I took advantage of the recent specials and booked a seat to Nelson and back on the Dominion Post newspaper service.

Whakatane Saab Trial

Air Chathams advises that it will be utilising its SAAB 340A airliner to provide an introductory Auckland-Whakatāne scheduled flight service this weekend. The airline is waiting on the extension of Whakatāne Airport’s runway end safety areas from the current 90 metres to 240 metres before it can use the larger, faster and more comfortable SAAB on a regular basis for peak demand daily services. That work has now been given funding approval to proceed and the joint airport owners, the Whakatāne District Council and Ministry of Transport, have indicated that the work will be progressed as quickly as possible. The SAAB will fly the Auckland-Whakatāne scheduled service, arriving at 2.30 pm on Saturday, and will return to Auckland flying the Sunday morning service leaving at 9.30 am. Renowned for its reliability and performance, the SAAB 340 caters for up to 34 passengers (compared to 19 on the airline’s Metroliner lll aircraft), offers a flight attendant service (in addition to the pilot and co-pilot) and cruises at a rapid 470 km/hour (450 km/hr for the Metroliner). It’s roomy cabin and comfortable seats also offer a superior customer experience, while the availability of an on-board toilet ensures passengers won’t get ‘caught short’. Air Chathams General Manager Duane Emeny says the introductory service will allow passengers to experience the level of comfort the airline hopes to be offering on a regular basis before the end of 2018. “We know our regular fliers will appreciate the extra cabin comforts provided and look forward to the SAAB becoming a permanent feature, boosting capacity on our peak, daily scheduled services.”

15 July 2018

Tauranga Airliners...

I have hardly done any plane spotting but managed a few quick trips to Tauranga Airport last week... Mainly fairly boring stuff with very general aviation movements 

Bombardier Q300s ZK-NEB (above) and ZK-NES (below) last Sunday 

An airliner I would love to fly in... De Havilland Heron ZK-BBM on 9 July 2018

ATR 72-600 ZK-MVI arrived before the next down pour on 9 September 2018

A couple more Bombardier Q300s on 9 September 2018... ZK-NEU (above) and ZK-NEZ (below)

On 10 July one of the Motiti Island "airliners" Cessna 172 ZK-FII was in a nice sunny spot
ATR 72-600 ZK-MVK barrelled in
While the RNZAF's answer to an airliner, Hercules NZ7004 was in the circuit

13 July 2018

Barrier Air to relaunch North Shore flights

Barrier Air has announced on its Facebook page that it is intending to relaunch its flights between North Shore Airport and Great Barrier Island using its Cessna Grand Caravans. Barrier Air's Nick Pearson said the airline has been negotiating for some time with the Civil Aviation Authority to use the Caravans in and out of the North Shore Airport. The airline has one more check to complete and hopes to reluanch services in about six weeks. The airline hopes to have a North Shore schedule on its website in the next couple of weeks.

Barrier Air's two Cessna Grand Caravans, ZK-SDB and ZK-SDC

The news comes shortly after the announcement of the sale of the airline's Britten Norman Islander. Barrier Air now operates an all turbine fleet. 

Stunning Convair!

One to look out for... Air Chathams' Convair 580 ZK-KFL is being painted with a “Hopo” or “Toroa”, a Chatham Islands Albatross by Mr G... Graham 'Mr G' Hoete is a street artist from the Bay of Plenty who specialises in photorealism... ZK-KFL is a dedicated freighter that Air Chathams use on freight services in New Zealand and out to the Chathams

09 July 2018

Airport Work at the Chathams

At present a significant amount of work is being undertaken the Chathams' Tuuta Airport.

Work includes

  • apron repairs to secure areas of fuel damaged seal. 
  • sealing of the driveway and hangar frontages to secure damaged seal and overcome loose seal chip problems. 
  • establishment of a sealed road for Air Chathams Fuel Tanker to stop the transfer of mud and stones onto the apron. 
  • geotechnical test pits and pavement strength tests to gather data for design of the proposed runway extension. 
  • detailed grid survey of the entire airport property and runway for the design of the proposed runway extension. 
  • siting of equipment pads for the new solar lighting system. The current solar powered runway lights with a new aerodrome lighting system, an Avlite Solar system and will include the establishment of approach lights for both ends.

07 July 2018

Islanders flying the coop

Vanuatu's Unity Airlines has posted on the Britten-Norman Aircraft Preservation Society Facebook page that they have put o deposit on BN Islander ZK-FVD "and hope to get it back to Vanuatu before the Nose leg calendar times out. Engines are low time as are the props, it has about 27,750Hrs. on the air frame, so it knows how to fly by now!"

Below are some pictures of FVD in various colour schemes with Great Barrier Airlines and Barrier Air.

Meanwhile Dennis Thompson International has listed the three ex Mount Cook Airline BN Islanders ZK-DBV - 22,613 hrs, ZK-MCD - 22,778 hrs and ZK-MCE - 16,456 hrs for sale.