Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bula Fiji Airways!

Fiji Airways have started a twice weekly Nadi-Wellington-Nadi service. These flights are scheduled for Thursday and Sunday afternoons, and last Thursday were the first flights in and out.

This afternoon I was at the airport in time to catch the arrival then departure of the second flight. As with the first, Fijian Airways used a Boeing 737-800 series aircraft, in this case B737-808, DQ-FJN. I'm hoping they occasionally slot in the smaller B737-700 on a weekend, but we'll see.

As for the flight timings, I usually much prefer an afternoon departure when I go on holiday, so these flights would be very convenient for me. Two days a week might be a bit awkward, although Fiji Airways also flies into Auckland and Christchurch, so no drama getting home when I want to. Maybe I will try them out one day - Fiji for 1.5 weeks anyone??

Pictures are of the arrival and then the departure.

Boeing 737-808, DQ-FJN, operated by Fiji Airways

Boeing 737-808, DQ-FJN, operated by Fiji Airways

Sounds like a sewer pipe dashing :-P

Four pictures of interest today start with a Sounds Air Cessna C208B Grand Caravan, ZK-SAW. This is the newest Grand Caravan in the Sounds Air fleet and has yet to get the Sounds Air livery applied.

Cessna C208B Grand Caravan, ZK-SAW, operated by Sounds Air

Next up is an aircraft type which is on the way out. Major changes at Air Freight NZ and Airwork will see their Convairs and Metroliners sold off [or scrapped], to be replaced with a number of Boeing 737-400's. Click here for further details from the MRC Aviation blog. These aircraft were sometimes known as the "San Antonio Sewer Pipe" in recognition of where they were built and the shape of the fuselage... :-)

In these pictures we have Fairchild SA227-AC Metroliner, ZK-NSS, taxying in at Wellington. This is operated as an air ambulance, although it seems its time is up shortly also.

Fairchild SA227-AC Metroliner, ZK_NSS, operated by Airwork Flight Operations

Fairchild SA227-AC Metroliner, ZK_NSS, operated by Airwork Flight Operations

Lastly  Air Nelson/ Air NZ Bombardier DHC8-311, ZK-NEW. It's obviously not that new now, as it has been on the register from October 2007. As mentioned in an earlier post, there are a few more of these arriving later this year in the form of competition from Jetstar/ Qantas.

Bombardier DHC8-311, ZK-NEW, operated by Air Nelson/ Air NZ

Friday, June 26, 2015

Metflight Now Available to Recreational Pilots!

I have just returned from a CAA AvKiwi seminar, and one of the comments made was that the excellent Metflight GA product is again available to recreational pilots at no charge!

The website address is:

Logging on for holders of a valid Part 61 licence is by using your Part 61 licence number and the Initial Grant Date ["Issued" date on older style licences] of that licence [printed on the bottom right of the licence]. For Part 149 certificate holders, contact your organisation for details of how to log on.

This is a great safety bonus for recreational pilots, and is something that all pilots should use, especially when venturing away from your home airport :-)

Login example for Part 61 licence holders is:

Start of Fiji Airways' flights between Nadi and Wellington

Last Thursday was the start of Fiji Airways' newly scheduled flights between Wellington and Nadi. At this stage, there are two return flights a week on Thursdays and Sundays, utilising Boeing B737 aircraft. This brings the number of airports Fiji Airways utilise sin NZ to three - Auckland, Christchurch and now Wellington.

The first flight was conducted by Boeing 737-8X2, DQ-FJG, as shown below, awaiting departure of runway 16.

Boeing 737-8X2, DQ-FJG, operated by Fiji Airways

Thanks to Raynesh for the photo!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Yet another youtube cat video!

This is not my usual type of post...

Doing the rounds of the 'net is this rather funny cat video which I'm sure most of you will enjoy.

It does highlight some important stuff [like always going a thorough pre-flight that is relevant to your aircraft type], it's great that the cat does not appear to have received anything more than a big surprise, and it's perhaps fortunate for all that it didn't dig its claws in and rip the wing...

Anyway, here it is! I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jetstar DHC-8 livery

Following on from my previous post, I have tracked down a computer-generated livery for the Jetstar-branded DHC-8's. This was sourced from the Jetstar Newsroom website [linked below].

Sourced from:

DHC-8, Eastern Australia Airline and Jetstar

The big news [although not at all surprising] is that a Jetstar Airways-branded regional service is to start in New Zealand from December 2015.

I say "Jetstar Airways-branded" as it will be another Qantas group company that operates the flights. This company is Eastern Australia Airline, which is part of the Qantas Group, operating under the "Qantaslink" brand in Australia. Eastern Australia Airline has a number of "spare" Bombardier DHC-8-300 aircraft [they same model as Air Nelson/ Air NZ uses]. I assume they also have the crews to operate the aircraft, at least in the short term.

Initially there will be 5 aircraft operating between regional centres, plus [and this is an assumption] Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The reason for this assumption is that, if true, it enables Jetstar's regional passengers to more easily link with the "main trunk" along with trans-Tasman and beyond services.

Timing is everything, and that holds true here. Things are getting better for Qantas group after a few tough years, they have spare aircraft, maybe spare crews, a domestic competitor [Air NZ] which is pulling out of some regions, and a launch at the Christmas rush period.

Initially, it appears that crews may be based in Auckland, although there is also rumour of a Wellington base being set up, along with the possibility of hangerage [maybe even a light maintenance base? We'll have to wait to see about that one].

Interestingly, Jetstar does not operate turbo-prop services across Australia. Is this a case of "wait and see, Australia"?? Perhaps Jetstar are using this as a trial of what could eventually roll out across Australia? Could Jetstar replace some of the Qantaslink branding in Australia? [yes, this is a long shot and only a possibility rather than being likely from what I have heard]

We will have to wait for many of the details, but here are a couple of questions which are bouncing around in my head for now:

  • What regional centres will they operate into and how will they link into the main trunk and international routes?
  • How will they crew the flights long-term? NZ contracts or Australian contracts?
  • Will they set up a base in Wellington?
  • Is this a pre-cursor to the Jetstar brand being used for turbo-prop services within Australia?
If you know more, feel free to leave a comment, or send me an email!

Anyway, here is a picture of the only DHC-8 operator in NZ at the moment... we will be seeing a few more of these later this year, but with a livery looking a little more like the A320 in the background!

Bombardier DHC-8-311, ZK-NES, operated by Air Nelson/ Air NZ. Type soon to be operated under the Jetstar brand

A few random shots from Wellington today

Here are a few random shots of aircraft from Wellington today. Being a Sunday, it was a bit quieter today, but plenty of sunshine [certainly a lot nicer than yesterday!] and it wasn't too windy either.

First up is a picture of Piper PA38-112, ZK-TAW, which is operated by Wellington Aero Club. In this unusual shot, the aircraft is entering the Airport Hold on the western side of the airport.

Piper PA38-112, ZK-TAW, operated by Wellington Aero Club
 Next up is one of Sounds Air's Caravans, Cessna C208, ZK-PDM.

Cessna C208, ZK-PDM, operated by Sounds Air
Getting on to the larger aircraft, we have a Boeing 737-838, ZK-ZQF, which is operated by Jetconnect [owned by Qantas]. On the taxiway is an Air NZ operated Airbus A320-232, ZK-OXH.

Boeing 737-838, ZK-ZQF, operated by Jetconnect/ Qantas
Jetstar has been in the news this week, with the announcement of Jetstar's first entry into turbo-prop operations due to start in December. To be fair, it's not Jetstar itself, but Eastern Australia Airline's DHC8-300's which will be operating the services, but branded as Jetstar.

The DHC-8's are not here yet, so for now, here is a picture of one of their Airbus A320-232's, VH-VGY.

Airbus A320-232, VH-VGY, operated by Jetstar Airways
 Last up is an Air NZ operated Airbus A320-232, ZK-OXH.

Airbus A320-232, ZK-OXH, operated by Air NZ

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Air Nelson, Sounds Air and Jetstar?

What a weird day! Unusually, the weather has been rubbish over most of the North Island, except in Wellington. That's not to say that it has been nice here... it's just not as bad at the rest of the North Island. The South Island was probably the pick of the bunch weather wise though...

Photos include an Air Nelson/ Air NZ Bombardier DHC-8-311, ZK-NFB landing, a Sounds Air Pilatus PC-12/45, ZK-PLS parked up, and a screen shot from the Metservice website of the rain radar.

Bombardier DHC-8-311, ZK-NFB, operated by Air Nelson/ Air NZ

Pilatus PC-12/45, ZK-PLS, operated by Sounds Air

Rain radar image (c) Metservice
The big news of the week however is the announcement that Jetstar is starting up some regional routes using some spare Eastern Australia Airlines [QANTAS Link] Bombardier DHC-3-300 aircraft! These services will be managed and branded as Jetstar and are due to start in December 2015. As one wag suggested, you can now get your bags lost in the regions :-)

Initially it looks like 4 regional airports will be served with the 5 aircraft, although this seems to exclude Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. I strongly suspect that these three main centres will be included as it will allow regional passengers to book a Jetstar/ Qantas ticket from home to wherever they are heading - ie: they will operate as feeder routes to Jetstar's and Qantas' other routes.

One rumour [I must stress, it is only rumour at this stage] which has surfaced is the possibility of an operations base at Wellington airport, including the possibility of a "light" maintenance facility. I have just this evening asked Jetstar for comment and I'm awaiting their response. It is a credible [even if eventually false] rumour - Wellington is a central location and Jetstar will almost certainly be cycling a lot of their fleet through Wellington on a regular basis and they will need somewhere to do at least light maintenance - I guess the heavy stuff will still be performed outside NZ unless they use Air Nelson's facilities???

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Beautiful weather and high tides

It has been yet another beautiful winter's day in Wellington! Cool, but not too cold, not very windy [just a gentle cross wind] and clear skies. I didn't get to go flying myself, although plenty of others did.

Like many airports in New Zealand, Wellington airport is on the coast and there have been some unusually high tides over the past few days. For today, these tides created some decent sized waves getting into the carpark at Lyall Bay and other places.

Anyway, on to the photos. First up is ATR-GIE ATR72-212A, ZK-MCO, operated by Mount Cook Airline/ Air NZ. As you can see, the crosswind is not too strong.

ATR-GIE ATR72-212A, ZK-MCO, operated by Mount Cook Airline/ Air NZ
Next up is one of many pictures of waves hitting the carpark wall in Lyall Bay. I especially like the high resolution version of this image in which you can clearly see sand and other stuff suspended in the water!
Waves at Lyall Bay
 Last up is a distant shot of an Air NZ Airbus A320-232 disappearing into the afternoon... probably off to Christchurch.
Airbus A320-232, operated by Air NZ

Sunday, June 07, 2015

More night flying

Today was one of those spectacular mid winter days we get in Wellington [aside from the fact that winter has only just started here in New Zealand].

Cool with a very gentle breeze, little or no cloud and great visibility. The perfect night to go flying. Oh yeah, there's no moon, and so it's really, really dark out there.

Rhys, Glenn and I got ready, jumped into Cessna 172S, ZK-CEO, and after a short 30 minute delay [at the suggestion of ATC due traffic reasons], we got started and were soon on our way.

First up was a flight over the Wellington CBD, then we joined left hand downwind for runway 34. Those of you who know Wellington will realise that on a really dark night, heading downwind for 34, you quickly run out of ground lighting and it gets really dark.

This is little different than being right hand downwind over the harbour entrance and having to hold for a couple of minutes... very very dark. Instruments are very very useful! This was one of the few nights when there was little outline of the hills visible, so a little eerie... Despite all of this, my turns were fine and my four landings for the evening were actually pretty good [if I do say so myself!]. Smooth, nicely controlled, and no unexpected arrivals with the surface :-)

Anyway, photography at night is not easy at the best of times. Rhys made a good job of the following panoramic photo [hand held on a smartphone, no less!], so I thought I would share it. Thanks Rhys...

NZWN Western Apron before our flight. Yes, it was that dark. Very much that dark. Fun times were about to ensue!
So much fun in so little time... no wonder I am tired tonight! :-)

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Pilatus PC12 and a Bell 206B

There was no flying for me today - I was going to go night flying, but the weather went downhill mid afternoon which put paid to that. Maybe tomorrow!

The first of two visiting aircraft is a Pilatus PC12/47E, VH-PID. This aircraft has been on loan to Sounds Air, apparently for crew training purposes. I guess it'll be going home to Australia soon with the recent arrival of Sounds Air's third PC12.

Pilatus PC12/47E, VH-PID, registered to S.K.N. & R.J. Kibble Pty Ltd of a Toowoomba City, Queensland, Australia address

Next up is a Bell208B, ZK-IBM, which is operated by Kapiti Heliworx of Paraparaumu. The logo on the side is pretty cool, with the "X" being swirling blades...
Bell 208B, ZK-IBM, operated by Kapiti Heliworx, of a Paraparaumu address

Monday, June 01, 2015

A quick visit to Whanganui

I had a quick visit to Whanganui over the past weekend. There was no planned aircraft spotting, but I did get to see a Kawasaki BK117 B2, ZK-IPT, operated by Search and Rescue Services of a Taupo address.

Kawasaki BK117 B2, ZK-IPT, operated by Search and Rescue Services