31 July 2021

Back on the market

 Embraer Bandeirante ZK-ERU is back on the market...  


There is an interesting comment, 

Yes I know it would be good for it to go to a museum but none want it I have already been down that path.

I find it sad that the museums don't recognise the significance of this particular aircraft... It was the introduction of the Bandeirante (and this is the first) and later Metroliner that really transformed regional air travel in New Zealand. 

Two examples - Gisborne had two Friendship flights to Auckland each day... one via Tauranga. Tauranga had two flights to Auckland. When Eagle put the Bandeirantes in the number of flights went up to as many as 10 a day. It was this move that got people flying and was the impetus for Tauranga-Auckland and Gisborne-Auckland routes becoming s busy.

This is a pioneer aircraft (Bandeirante literally means pioneer) and it deserves to be restored. The Bandeirante has a lot more connection to Tauranga than the de Havilland Heron... Classic Flyers really need to think twice about taking it!

29 July 2021

ERU has got to be preserved...

On Trade Me today for $5000 was ex Eagle Air Embraer Bandeirante ZK-ERU. 

This aircraft is a real part of NZ aviation history and marked the beginning of commuter travel to regional centres. It's history can be found here...

A good one for Classic Flyers or MOTAT at only $ 5000 buy now.


28 July 2021

Sunair Expansion?


Interesting little piece on the Sunair Facebook page...

Great things are coming to Sunair in the form of a new flight schedule. Keep your eyes peeled in the next couple of weeks for this. HINT: There might be a new destination being added soon...🤫

Any thoughts of where???

Milford Opportunities?

The Queenstown-Milford Sound flight is considered one of the most spectacular flights in the world. It's days, however, might be over the the release of a proposal by Milford Opportunities, a multi-agency group charged with looking at the future of Milford Sound... In terms of flights into Milford Sound this is what it says...

Reorganising Milford Sound Piopiotahi to remove conflict, such as cruise ships and the airstrip.

Cruise ships are seen as incongruous with the beautiful natural setting as sometimes they block key views and release pollution. The runway is not in a sustainable condition as it partially floods in high spring tides and that will worsen with sea level rise. Groundwater is undermining the runway foundation and the runway takes up a large area of the flat area in the sound, for flights that are for only a small number of visitors. 

The removal of the runway will enable the creation of an outstanding reveal of Mitre Peak and the sound and the ability to link Deepwater Basin and Freshwater Basin with new walkways and vantage points – places to experience the wairua of the place.

The full report and more information can be found here... https://www.milfordopportunities.nz/

Photo : A Murphy

Some more details from the final report... https://www.milfordopportunities.nz/assets/Projects/210503-MOP-Masterplan-FINAL-85.pdf

• Phase out fixed wing airplane flights and the aerodrome to repurpose and reconnect place, enabling improved access to a range of services and attractions.

• Mayor Boult has a view that developments in aircraft technology will bring logic to the retention of the Milford air strip and he does not support the Governance Group’s view of closure. 

Removal of the aerodrome runway for fixed wing flights will allow for spatial optimisation of Milford Sound Piopiotahi. Its removal will improve the visitor experience, reduce environmental impacts and avoid costly runway maintenance and upgrades, while having only a minor impact on visitation. This will free up additional space for other uses, such as a realigned road entry, bus terminal, publicly accessible view shafts/observation points and greater walking track connectivity across the Cleddau Delta. The use of helicopters would remain, with helipads being relocated to the south east along Pembroke Drive. Helicopter approach will be designed to minimise noise and disruption to ground visitors.

Redeveloping the runway is the biggest opportunity in Milford Sound Piopiotahi, seeking to re-inhabit large areas of lowland delta landscape and improve public access to a host of new experiences. A large-scale regenerative landscape approach is proposed, reminiscent of the former braids of the Cleddau River that originally ran through the existing runway alignment. It is intended to reconnect those visiting Milford Sound.


Prior to Covid-19, the approximately five percent of visitors who arrived by air to the Milford Aerodrome were split roughly 75 percent on fixed wing and 25 percent on rotary wing aircraft. The Masterplan recommends that fixed wing aviation should be discontinued and the runway removed. Helicopter access would be retained and relocated closer to other operational areas nearer to Deepwater Basin. This recommendation is based on a combination of issues, including:

• Several operational and safety challenges due to its location in a mountainous area. In addition, there are highly changeable meteorological conditions, which means it currently operates on only about 150 days of the year.

• It is in an environmentally sensitive area with the presence of threatened fauna, a high proportion of impermeable surfacing and is flood prone. The latter is an issue that will only get worse over time with climate change induced sea level rise. 

• The runway is slowly sinking and needs major reconstruction work to strengthen its foundations, which will be a costly exercise. 

• There is a poor landside visitor experience without normal airport terminal facilities. 

• There is a large area of restricted public access for runway and airside facilities that splits Milford Sound Piopiotahi into two, severing direct access between Freshwater and Deepwater Basins. 

The retention of helicopter access should more than adequately accommodate high-value, time-poor visitors, and address resilience issues, including the ability to evacuate people in the event of a natural disaster. The Masterplan proposes to retain the ability to have scenic overflights over Milford Sound Piopiotahi, noting that the flights themselves are a highlight of the current visitor experience. 

The aerodrome is close to its limits in passenger numbers and constrained by the number of days when it cannot operate. Land access will more than cover the loss of air access. Fixed wing aviation provides around 3.5 percent of current access with very limited scope for growth, while the ground-based access options through a combination of tour coach and hop on/hop off buses recommended in the Masterplan will provide for up to 185 percent of current demand. Parts of the existing aerodrome infrastructure could be repurposed for bus access to enhance the existing arrival experience at Milford Sound Piopiotahi, providing a direct viewpoint to Mitre Peak. 

The currently under-utilised Te Anau Airport has ample capacity to accommodate growth without the significant safety, cost and operational challenges of the Milford Aerodrome, which means there are additional options available to existing fixed wing aircraft operators to develop their business in the absence of landing at Milford Sound Piopiotahi. This would provide the opportunity for a different model of scenic flights and increase the utilisation of Te Anau Airport, including making it a more attractive proposition for some form of scheduled air service from Queenstown or elsewhere, and would drive significant economic benefits to Te Anau and the wider Te Rua-o-Te-Moko Fiordland National Park and Southland regions.


A new heliport will be located on raised ground off the existing staff accommodation at Cleddau Village. This responds to an opportunity to reduce the impact of noise on the visitor hub and more closely associate it with other commercial operating environments, such as the commercial marina. The direct, cross-spine pathway between the visitors hub and Deepwater Basin Node will also allow more convenient walking access to and from the heliport for visitors taking scenic flights. Pembroke Drive will be kept as a service road with opportunities for clear management between landside bus layby or staff parking and airside operational areas. Existing and supplementary landscape planting will visually break up the continuity of landing pads for a high amenity visitor arrival. The existing DOC service yard off Deepwater Basin Road will be adapted for emergency evacuation landings with utility sheds that could be reused for maintenance and storage for rotary operations with additional site capacity to relocate lightweight buildings from the existing aerodrome.

The Milford Sound Piopiotahi aerodrome is not in a sustainable condition. The runway floods at high spring tide, which will worsen as sea levels rise. Decaying trees within the foundation are weakening the tarmac, which is also becoming undermined by groundwater from the Cleddau River. The aerodrome also has restricted capacity due to length of the runway and cracked pavement. Approximately 300m of the runway is low lying and occasionally floods, which will only become worse due to global warming and sea level rise

More of Glentanner

Thanks to Aaron for these recent photos of Glentanner taken on 11 July 2021 with some photos of the Helicopter Line operations...

 Meanwhile, back 33-34 years ago Glentanner had scheduled ops...  33-34 years ago! I am getting old!

In the orignal New Zealand star colour scheme are ZK-NEZ (above) at Glentanner on 17 April 1988 and ZK-NEY (below), again at Glentanner, on 19 September 1987. Photos : S Lowe

27 July 2021

Westport Update ✈

From the Sounds Air Facebook page...

Our thoughts are with the Westport Community as they work through the impact of the recent weather system that's caused extensive flooding and impacted many lives in the region. Unfortunately the flooding has also caused electrical damage to the Westport Airport runway lighting system, deeming it inoperable. Sounds Air will not be able to operate flights outside of daylight hours for the foreseeable future (estimated 8 weeks). This disrupts both the standard 0610 WSZ-WLG and 1755 WLG-WSZ services, Monday - Sunday. We are actively working through the impacts of this and accommodating customers on alternative services. We will be in contact to all those passengers effected. Thanks for your understanding and co-operation!


26 July 2021

Remember these days?

Over the last months I have picked up some old slides...

Air New Zealand Fokker F27-100 Friendship ZK-BXH at Auckland 

Avcorp Commuter's Cessna 402 ZK-DSG and Cessna 404 Titan ZK-TAT on the ramp at Nelson 

Mount Cook Airlines' BN Islander ZK-MCD at Auckland. Mount Cook's Islanders were used for services to Kerikeri, Great Barrier Island and Rotorua.

What might have been, Skybus Vickers Viscount ZK-SKY at Auckland. I have a large envelope of newspaper clippings to scan before I write the history of Skybus.


25 July 2021

Sad Sight #2

Thanks to Jarden Svensson for these pics of the Mount Cook airports. Once upon a time both these airports received scheduled air services.

Mount Cook airport had scheduled services using Mount Cook Airlines' Douglas DC-3s, Hawker Siddeley 748s, DHC Twin Otters (usually used for backup or small loads), Fokker Friendships and ATR 72s operating through here. 

Glentanner Airport had scheduled services using Newmans Air DHC Dash 7s and Ansett Newmans/Ansett New Zealand DHC Dash 8s operating through here. For those not familiar with Glentanner the sealed runway is at the far end of the grass strip running at 90 degrees to it

Thanks again Jarden... I'm always looking for content to keep the interest up on the blog.

Sad Sight #1

Thanks to Richard Currie for this sad photo of ex Fly My Sky BN Islander ZK-PIY. Richard writes, PIY tucked into a corner outside Fieldair’s hangar at AKL this morning,  minus an engine… EVO & PIZ still parked on the grass at Dennis Thompson Ardmore today,  don’t know where SFK is hiding..

I wonder where they will end of going

BN Islander ZK-PIY at Auckland on 25 July 2021

 Thanks again Richard... I'm always looking for content to keep the interest up on the blog.

23 July 2021

Not Quite A Quarter of a Century on the Chathams Run


Today marks the last day of Air Chathams' scheduled passenger operations with Convair 580 aircraft. Today Convair 580 ZK-CIB, Air Chathams' first Convair, flew its final scheduled passenger service, 3C 512, from the Chathams Islands to Wellington and the return 3C 521 to the Chatham Islands. The Convair flew the last return service from the Chathams to Auckland on Thursday, the 22nd of July 2021 and the last return service from the Chathams to Christchurch on Tuesday, the 20th of July 2021.

These flights also marked the end of Convair 580s operating scheduled passenger services in the world.

ZK-CIB on her final day of scheduled passenger operations at Wellington on 23 July 2021. Photos : Wellington International Airport 

A final Auckland-Wellington-Chathams and return charter flight is planned as the final passenger operation on the weekend of the 13th and 15th of August.

Air Chatham’s first General Dynamics Allison Convair 440/580, ZK-CIB (c/n 327A), began services to the Chathams almost 25 years ago on the 29th of July 1996. ZK-CIB flew from Wellington to the Chathams with 13 passengers and 3 tonnes of freight and returned the next day with 5 tonnes of freight and 7 passengers. 

ZK-CIB was configured as a combi meaning it could easily change from an all freight configuration, with a total capacity of 6.3 tonnes, to an all passenger configuration with a capacity for 39 passengers though the normal mixed passenger/freight configuration was with a capacity for 19 passengers and 4 tonnes or freight.  

Despite its age the Convair with its Allison turboprops gave the aircraft an impressive cruising speed of 285 knots at a normal operating altitude of 22,000 feet. It also offered the advantage of being able to carry a commercial payload to the Chathams of 5.1 tonnes eastbound and 6.1 back to New Zealand with all the refuelling being done on the mainland. 

ZK-CIB has quite a history as detailed below;

ZK-CIB/3     General Dynamics Allison Convair 440/580                      c/n 327A

N8420H       00/00/1953      Convair, San Diego, California

                                             Built as Convair 340-38 with c/n 96

                     30/07/1953      Union Producing Co, Shreveport, Louisiana

                                             Badly damaged by fire at Shreveport. Louisiana

                                             Registration cancelled

N8444H       00/00/1956      General Dynamics Corporation

                     00/00/1956      Rebuilt as Convair 440-42 with c/n 327A

                     00/06/1956      Union Producing Corporation, Shreveport, Louisiana

                     12/03/1966      North Central Airlines Inc, Minneapolis, Minnesota

                     00/05/1969      Converted to Convair 580

                     01/05/1969      North Central Airlines Inc, Minneapolis, Minnesota

                     01/07/1979      Republic Airlines Inc, Minneapolis, Minnesota

                     14/12/1983      Jay-Dee Aircraft Supply Inc, Santa Monica, California

                     00/12/1983      Coastal Air...leased

                     00/05/1988      Registration cancelled

TG-MYM     00/00/1988      Aeroquetal, Guatemala City, Guatemala

                     00/00/1989      Withdrawn from use - stored Tucson, Arizona

                     00/00/1992      Registration cancelled

N8444H       01/04/1992      Jay-Dee Aircraft Supply Inc, Valencia, California

                     00/05/1992      Delivered to Kelowna, Edmonton, Alberta

                     00/05/1994      Registration cancelled

C-FCIB        26/07/1995      Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter Ltd, Edmonton, Alberta

                     07/06/1996      Registration cancelled

ZK-CIB        10/06/1996      Air Transport (Chatham Islands) Ltd, Chatham Islands

                     29/07/1996      Entered service flying Wellington-Chatham Islands

                     02/08/1996      Air Chathams Ltd, Chatham Islands


Air Chatham's flagship, Convair 580 ZK-CIB at Chatham on 20 April 2014

ZK-CIB's front office

ZK-CIB's cabin waiting for its passengers... Notice the absence of overhead lockers... this means the rear bulkhead can easily be moved up and down the cabin as passenger and freight demands dictate. In the front right sealed plastic tubs of fish to be flown to the mainland.

On the flight down to the Chathams on 15 April 2014 the Convair was in a full 39-seat passenger configuration - note the seats on the left hand side of the cargo door. The large door is ideal for this combi operation.

Repainted and with new script, Air Chathams' Convair 580 ZK-CIB departs Wellington for the Chatham Islands on 26 July 2017

Today, however, is not the end of ZK-CIB's service. Dan Burt, Air Chathams' Head of Marketing  tells me, CIB will be doing freight flights for a few weeks here and there though July, August and September.

More on Air Chathams and their Convair operations can be found here :

22 July 2021

Fourth Caravan for Barrier Air

Barrier Air have announced their fourth ‘Cessna Grand Caravan’ is incoming to their base at Auckland Airport next month in time for the busy season!!!! The post on the company's Facebook page says, "We can’t show a full photo yet until we get our livery and logos on it but here is a snippet of what the interior looks like!  (see their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/greatbarrierairlines/). This super low time aircraft is immaculate and only has 1800 hours on it and is identical to our other three aircraft! The Cessna Grand Caravan has been the making of Barrier Air. These Jet turbine Aircraft with 14 seats are perfect for what we do! 

The airline also has a great competition going on... 

Any guesses on what the new rego is going to be? 

Here is a clue:  SDB (Bravo) SDC (Charlie) SDD (Delta) are the regos of our exisiting fleet! Next comes...SD_?

Put your answer in the comments of this post and make sure you like our page and be into win your choice of two return seats to Great Barrier Island, Kaitaia or Whitianga!*

*Completion closes Monday 26th July at 1800. 

To enter you need to go to their Facebook page... https://www.facebook.com/greatbarrierairlines/

The airline has started advertising its new Whitianga service in the Mercury Bay Informer

Cessnas at Milford...

More from our intrepid aviator at Milford Sound on 11 July 2021

Six Cessna Caravans on the tarmac at Milford Sound... True South's ZK-SLA, Glenorchy Air's ZK-MMZ, Air Milford's ZK-SKA, and Milford Sound Flights' ZK-MCL, ZK-MCI and ZK-MSF

Glenorchy Air's Cessna 206 ZK-JTK

And their Cessna 208 Grand Caravan EX ZK-MMZ

Milford Sound Flights' Cessna 208 Grand Caravans ZK-MCL (left) ZK-MSF (at rear) and ZK-MCI

Cessna 208 Grand Caravan ZK-MCL

Air Milford's Cessna 208 Caravan ZK-SKA

True South's Cessna 208 Grand Caravan ZK-SLA 

Air Chathams' Helicopter Mystery


One thing I have wondered about in regards to Air Chathams is what is the story of Hughes 300 ZK-HIS which is registered to the company? Yesterday Richard kindly sent a photo of it and that spurred me to do something...

Hughes 300 ZK-HIS at Ardmore on 22 July 2021

Dan Burt, head of marketing for Air Chathams, tells me, ZK-HIS is owned by the company but its not operated by us or on our Op Spec. Mystery solved!

21 July 2021

Airvans at Milford...

Thanks to our southern flyer who caught four Gippsland Airvans from four different operators at Milford Sound on 11 July 2021. The photos have convinced me that I need to do a day's plane spotting at Milford again!

Glenorchy Air's ZK-JRR

Milford Sounds Flights' ZK-MCZ

Southern Alp Air's ZK-MLF

True South's ZK-SLW