4 January 2014 (UPDATED: 6 January 2014)
WA’s two police helicopters (VH-WAH / POLAIR 61 MBB-Kawasaki BK-117 and VH-WPX / POLAIR 62 Eurocopter AS365N3+ Dauphin 2), which were grounded since 3 January 2015, have now returned to flying.
The Police Air Wing’s Chief Pilot and Deputy Chief Pilot suddenly resigned, and this also left only two of the five pilot positions filled. As the Police Air Wing Air Operator’s Certificate was held by the Chief Pilot, his resignation potentially meant that under air safety laws, the helicopters could not fly. The helicopters were therefore voluntarily grounded to clarify the situation with CASA, but could do urgent missions if required.
WA Police held urgent discussions with CASA on finding a way to get the helicopters back into operation, and CASA granted approval for the helicopters to fly under a private licence which covers them for surveillance operations.
If the grounding had been for an extended period, fixed wing aircraft, such as the GippsAero GA-8 Airvan (VH-WPF) would have been needed to provide air patrols and support for ground-based Police. The Airvan is not a well-equipped as the helicopters and does not have a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret for night searches. However, WA Police indicated that they already do this whenever the helicopters are unavailable and if necessary, they would hire another helicopter.
Rescue flights are not a primary function of the Police helicopters, so rescue missions could be undertaken by other helicopters, such as the Department of Fire and Emergency Services/RAC Rescue Bell 412EP VH-EWA.
The WA Police admitted that they have had difficulty trying to find suitably-qualified helicopter pilots, with one position vacant for some time, but deny that there are any staff problems within the Air Wing.
26 December 2014 © David Eyre (UPDATED 28 December 2014)
Official ‘final’ Qantas 767 visit to Perth
The Boeing 767 seemed to defy attempts to retire it from the Qantas fleet, as a number of flights were made after the officially announced ‘final’ flight.
On 17 November 2014, VH-OGL operated flight QF651 from Brisbane. The aircraft parked on Bay 15 at Terminal 4 and Qantas crews posed in front of the aircraft for what they thought was the final flight.
One Qantas worker didn’t believe this was the final Qantas 767 visit to Perth. She said “They have said that before, but the 767s are still operating.” She went away to check and another staff member confirmed it. She lamented “That’s so sad! I love the 767s! They have done such a wonderful job.” A few more Qantas staff paused at the window for a ‘last look’ at the 767 parked outside, before resuming their duties.
VH-OGL pushed back for departure as QF718 to Canberra and Qantas staff announced on the PA system that this was the final 767 service from Perth and that there would be a water cannon salute by the airport fire crews. Things didn’t quite go to plan, as only one of the fire trucks activated its water cannon as the aircraft taxied out to runway 21 and took off.
More ‘final’ flights
However, it wasn’t the final Qantas 767 flight:
- VH-OGM was substituted on the QF475 service from Melbourne on 24 November 2014 and arrived in Perth at 2.37pm, after an Airbus A330 reportedly suffered a lightning strike and couldn’t operate the service. VH-OGM departed back to Melbourne at 3.48pm as QF476.
- VH-OGO arrived at Perth as QF653 from Melbourne at 11:14pm on 24 November. Departed at 1.03pm on 25 November back to Melbourne as QF476.
- VH-OGU arrived at Perth as QF653 from Melbourne at 10.32pm on 30 November. Departed at 3.25pm on 1 December to Sydney as QF566.
- VH-OGU arrived at Perth as QF569 from Sydney at 6.34pm on 3 December. Departed at 7.26am on 4 December as QF576 back to Sydney.
- VH-OGM arrived at Perth as QF653 from Melbourne at 9:18pm on 21 December 2014. Departed 10.00am on 22 December as QF576 to Sydney.
- FINAL QANTAS 767 flight to/from Perth: VH-OGM arrived at Perth as QF569 from Sydney at 7:17pm on 22 December 2014. Departed at 7:50am on 23 December 2014 as QF576 to Sydney.
The very last Qantas 767 services
The final Qantas 767 international service was flown by VH-OGU from Honolulu to Sydney on 13 September 2014.
Qantas’ final Boeing 767 service will operate from Melbourne to Sydney on December 27 as the 5pm QF452 flight, which as a tribute has been renumbered as flight QF767, arriving in Sydney at 6.25pm to a water cannon salute.
The final flight was originally supposed to be QF490, and a large number of aviation enthusiasts had booked that flight to be on the 767’s final revenue service with Qantas. Qantas kindly allowed QF490 passengers to rebook onto ‘QF767′ at no charge.
On 27 December 2014, the final day of Qantas 767 services, there were four aircraft operating. VH-OGL operating Sydney-Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney; VH-OGO Sydney-Brisbane; VH-OGM Melbourne-Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney; VH-OGU Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane.
The final 767 passenger revenue flight was QF452 which was renumbered as ‘QF767′ on this occasion. VH-OGL, flown by Captain Mike Galvin and First Officer Kirrily Zupp, departed Melbourne at 5:59pm with 254 passengers (mostly aviation enthusiasts) and landed Sydney at 6:57pm, after making a number of orbits over Sydney CBD and Harbour.
Qantas 767 retirement
The 767s are being retired nine months earlier than originally planned, as part of the ‘Qantas transformation program’ to stem mounting losses.
Qantas’ 767s were refurbished only two years ago at a cost of millions of dollars, with leather seats in business class and iPads for use as inflight entertainment via the ‘Q Streaming’ WiFi system. The Qantas 767s were quite popular with passengers as it had a comfortable 2-3-2 configuration, which made it quicker to board and exit, with seats that were comfortably wide. Unfortunately, the 767’s increasing maintenance costs and higher fuel consumption with a need to reduce the number of different types in the fleet led to the withdrawal of the type from passenger services. The airline still has a 767-300F freighter, which will continue in service between Sydney and Auckland.
Qantas originally ordered up to 115 Boeing 787 Dreamliners for delivery between 2008 and 2020 to replace the 767s and A330s, and develop new international routes. However, Qantas Group management instead decided to divert the initial 787s to Jetstar, and return Jetstar’s leased A330-200s back to Qantas as 767 replacements.
19 December 2014 © David Eyre
AAWA has again compiled a list of fire fighting and support aircraft in Western Australia for the 2014 /2015 Summer bush fire season (Oct 2014 – Apr 2015). This is located under the Aviation Lists section of our website.
Photos of fire fighting aircraft will be added under the Aircraft Photos section.
16 December 2014
Emirates has today formally announced the planned introduction of the Airbus A380 on services between Dubai and Perth, with the aircraft replacing Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on the evening EK420/421 service from 1 May 2015.
The EK424/425 early morning service and midday EK422/423 service will continue to use a mix of Boeing 777-200LR and 777-300ER aircraft.
The A380 will provide an additional 1,834 seats on the route each week, less than 12 months since Qantas ceased providing regular international services from Perth.
The A380 is popular with passengers, who prefer its quieter and more spacious interior. The A380 has a 10-abreast seating configuration as used in the Boeing 777, but the 777 is narrower, making it somewhat less comfortable. The A380 features private first class suites, fully flat beds for business class (compared to the angled lie-flat seats in the Boeing 777), inflight showers and a bar (for first and business class passengers).
EK420 departs Dubai at 2:55am local time, arriving at Perth by 5:35pm. It then departs Perth as EK421 at 10:10pm, arriving in Dubai at 5:25am the following morning.
Perth Airport’s runway and taxiways have been capable of taking A380s for a number of years. Emirates had been waiting for progress on Perth Airport’s $700 million redevelopment program, including the construction of A380-capable dual split-level aerobridges, upgrades to the arrival and departure facilities and a new Emirates Lounge.
The first of the A380 aerobridges was constructed at Bay 51, at the southern end of Terminal 1 (International). It was planned to be completed in June 2013, but delays during construction and technical issues postponed its opening until December 2013. A second A380 aerobridge is also being constructed on the new Virgin Australia International/Domestic Pier, which is currently under construction for completion in January 2015.
Emirates is also building a new, much larger lounge at Perth, located under Emirates’ current lounge. Construction will start in January 2015, for completion by 31 May 2015.
The first A380 to visit Perth was a special promotional (non-revenue) flight by Qantas’ A380 VH-OQA on 14 October 2008. A number of A380s have visited since then, but only because of medical emergency diversions – six from Emirates (A6-EDE, A6-EDA, A6-EEH, A6-EEO, A6-EDP and A6-EEU) and two from Qantas (VH-OQB and VH-OQG). These aircraft were all headed to or from Eastern States cities.
Media reports in June 2013 stated that the start date was to be March 2014, and air traffic slot allocations showed a start date of 29 March 2014. However, Emirates made no official announcement at that time. Emirates crews were being advised of a potential 1 July 2014 start date, but this too did not eventuate, even when the midday EK422/423 service was temporarily suspended due to runway works at Dubai.
Emirates has 56 A380s in service, with another 84 on order. The airline is pushing Airbus to develop new versions of the aircraft, with newer, more fuel efficient engines, as well as a larger version.
15 December 2014
Advanced Cockpit Flight Training (ACFT) ceased flight training operations on 24 November 2014 and administrators were appointed effective from 15 December 2014.
The following notice was placed on the ACFT website:
To all ACFT students and customers:
Most of you will be aware that ACFT was closed temporarily on November 24th as a result of an ongoing legal dispute that has resulted in the failure a substantial training contract. On legal advice we cannot comment on the dispute at this time, other than to restate our sincere apologies to those students affected, and we can confirm that we are no longer able to provide any flight training to those students.
We confirm that for the immediate future flight training operations at ACFT will continue to be suspended, and we are unlikely to be able to offer services for the remainder of 2014 and until further notice. The organisation is undergoing a restructure and we hope to be making an announcement in the coming weeks as to the longer term future of ACFT.
To Our Retail Students:
Since November 24th we have been working towards a solution for you to be able to continue your flight training. We understand that most students would prefer to remain with their instructors, and you may have already discussed with your instructor how you would prefer to continue your flight training. As a result of a kind offer from Thunderbird Aero Service, several of our instructors including Trent, Christian and Duane have accepted the invitation to conduct flight training for retail students through Thunderbird to provide an ongoing service to ACFT’s retail students. For those of you who were training on the DA-20, DA-40 or Seminole, there will be no change. For those training on a different aircraft type, please coordinate with your instructor regarding your preferred aircraft type, and we will do our best to see that your needs are met.
For those that would like continue their flight training under this arrangement, please feel free to contact either your flight instructor, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Thunderbird directly on 9417 7377 or email email@example.com ACFT will ensure the timely transfer of all student records to allow your training to continue without further delay.
We wish you all the best for your flight training, and for a Merry Christmas and Happy and prosperous 2015.
7 September 2014 (UPDATED 10 December 2014)
Scoot Airlines is to replace the current Boeing 777-200ER aircraft used on Singapore – Perth services from 1 February 2015 (subject to change) with a daily Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner service.
Scoot commenced its Singapore – Perth services in December 2013, using a fleet of six Boeing 777-200ER from parent company Singapore Airlines (SIA).
Perth will be the inaugural route for the Scoot 787s.
20 Boeing 787-9s were originally ordered by SIA, but SIA later decided to transfer the 787s to Scoot, which has now split the order into 10 Boeing 787-8s and ten of the larger Boeing 787-9s.
Scoot will take delivery of Boeing 787-9s from November 2014. The Scoot 787s were originally scheduled from 29 March 2015, then it was brought forward to 1 January 2015, delayed it to 16 January 2015, and again to 1 February 2015.
The first of the smaller 787-8 Dreamliners will be delivered in mid-2015. The current Boeing 777-200ER fleet with then be retired and Scoot will become an all-787 operator.
Schedule will be as follows:
- TZ008 Depart Singapore 1310 – Arrive Perth 1815
- TZ007 Depart Perth 1910 – Arrive Singapore 0010 +1 (the following day).
TIME LAPSE VIDEO: Scoot’s first Boeing 787 being built:
3 December 2014 – Copyright © David Eyre
Seaplane trial on Swan River
Catalina Airlines Mack McCormack, an ex-SAS trooper and WA Entrepreneur of the Year, believes that his seaplane business could be a boost for tourism. The airline wants to fly passengers to Rottnest, the Abrolhos islands (off Geraldton), Mandurah, Margaret River region (Busselton) and other sightseeing, diving and snorkelling destinations, and the idea is to save tourists from having to drive hours to get there.
In preparation for commercial operations, Catalina Airlines conducted a test flight to and from the Swan River today, using Cessna 208 Caravan amphibious floatplane VH-OPH. Today’s flight was the first since the seaplane operations area had marker buoys added. Catalina Adventures owner Mack McCormack was aboard and the aircraft was flown by an experienced former Qantas pilot, Lynden Williams. A previous test flight had been conducted on 18 October 2013.
A support boat checked the landing area for marine and bird life and other watercraft before take-off and landing, and advised the pilot by radio that it was clear.
VH-OPH departed Jandakot Airport and landed on the river in perfect conditions at 9:26am. Checks were made to ensure that the support boat had adequate clearance below the wing and support strut of the aircraft. Pilot Lynden Williams then had to get back into the air to meet air traffic slot times and the aircraft started up again and took off at 9:59am. It flew to Rottnest Island Airport (on land) before later returning to Jandakot.
The site allocated on the Swan River for the seaplane operations is in an area marked with buoys, running in an east-west direction on Melville Water west of Mill Point Road, South Perth. It is sandwiched between the south side of the South Perth PWC Freestyling Area (jet-ski area), and north side of Milyu Marine Park and Nature Reserve.
The test flight followed two years of battling to obtain approvals from various regulators, including the CASA, the Swan River Trust, Department of Transport, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Department of Environment Regulation, Department of Aboriginal Affairs, City of Perth and others.
Red Tape and Green Tape
In 2012, Mack McCormack applied to operate seaplanes from the sheltered South Perth side of the river, opposite Perth city. Earlier commercial seaplane operations had been based there in the 1980s.
However, local Liberal MP John McGrath opposed the location, concerned about potential collisions with amateur yachts. Mr McGrath suggested a site near the Old Swan Brewery on the Crawley side of the Narrows, so plans were changed accordingly.
The Swan River Trust were concerned about the aircraft hitting dolphins and seabirds, so they asked the airline to do environmental studies, but there had been no recorded aircraft/dolphin collisions anywhere in the world. By December 2012, the Swan River Trust wrote to Mr McCormack, stating that there were “no major issues” with the planned operations.
In October 2013, a year after the original application was lodged, the Trust ordered Mr McCormack to reapply for permission to land seaplanes on the river, because the proposed landing site had been shifted from east to west of the Narrows Bridge and regulators would need to assess the “new” location.
Before approving a test flight on the river, the Trust wanted a separate application and data on seaplane noise. The first test flight landed on the river on 18 October 2013, and regulators measured noise levels, which were 12 decibels below those recommended by the then Department of Environment and Conservation. In late November 2013, the Trust gave conditional approval to commence a 12-month trial of commercial seaplane operations, but required Catalina Airlines to submit additional operational information details and obtain approvals from all other relevant authorities before flights start.
Mr Cormack says that the slow and bureaucratic approval process has delayed his operation by two years and cost him millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Commercial operations approvals
Approval has been granted for a 12-month trial period, using an 11-passenger Cessna 208 Caravan seaplane for a maximum of eight flights per day (16 movements), between 8am and 5.30pm seven days a week. Catalina Adventures intend to start the 12-month trial from February 2015, subject to final approval from CASA.
Following the 12-month trial, the Swan River Trust will assess the environmental and community impacts of the operation before making any decisions on the long-term use of the river by commercial seaplanes. The Swan River Trust may consider extending the seaplane trial by another six months, to allow for the operation to run over two peak periods, if continuation of the trial will not impact on the community, wildlife or waterway.
The Swan River Trust stated that “The proximity of the seaplane landing area to Milyu Marine Park and Nature Reserve was one of the major considerations for the Trust, as this area has been set aside as a refuge for migratory wading birds protected under international agreements.”
“In an effort to protect birdlife, the seaplanes and support vessel are not permitted to enter the Milyu Marine Park and an exclusion/ no fly zone has been established 300 metres from the shore to minimise shadowing and disturbance of birds in the area.
“Restricting the seaplanes from flying close to the Como foreshore will also greatly reduce any noise impacts on nearby residences.”
In order to generate the most lift and shorten the take-off or landing run, aircraft usually fly against the wind. However, under the conditions imposed by the regulators, the aircraft must land from west to east (from the centre of Melville Water towards South Perth), and take off in the opposite direction. This may cause difficulties if wind conditions are unfavourable. The aircraft will be required to divert to Jandakot and bus the passengers to Barrack Street Jetty.
In accordance with conditions imposed by the Swan River Trust, the aircraft moors at a yellow buoy more than 300 metres offshore, with a boat carrying passengers between the aircraft and shore. The seaplane cannot be left moored on the river overnight and must be washed down, refuelled and maintained at Jandakot or Perth Airports.
If the conditions of approval are breached or the seaplane operations impact upon wildlife, the operation may be cancelled immediately.
Planned destinations for the seaplane
- Rottnest Snorkelling – 12 minutes flight from Perth
- Sightseeing Flight – From Perth down the Swan River, over Fremantle and Rottnest and back again. 30 minutes round trip
- Diving Safari – HMAS Swan / Cape Dive (Cape Naturaliste)
- Margaret River
Update on Grumman G-111 Albatross VH-NMO
Mack McCormack advised AAWA that Grumman Albatross will fly to Tocumwal on the NSW/Victoria border in February or March 2015, to have its 100-hourly maintenance work completed, before returning to Jandakot.
Mr McCormack would like to be able to use the 24-seat Albatross on the Swan River seaplane operation, but approval has only been granted for the smaller Cessna Caravan seaplane.
As the Albatross is a larger aircraft with different noise characteristics, it would require a review of the approval conditions, and it would also and be required to be moored further away from the shore.
AAWA wishes to thank Catalina Airlines for kindly providing access to photograph the trial flight.
28 November 2014 – David Eyre
Virgin Australia Regional Airlines will cut the number of flights between Perth and Albany, Busselton, Esperance and Ravensthorpe from 5 December 2014.
The carrier will eliminate 11 out of the current 40 flights per week, a move which has been criticised as a blow to business and tourism.
The new schedule reduce Albany services from 20 flights per week to 15 and Esperance flights from 18 to 13 per week.
These routes are regulated by the WA Department of Transport, to ensure their commercial viability.
Industry associations have noted that at the end of the consultation regarding the proposed service reductions, the State Government said that they did not support it, but have now reversed the decision.
Transport Minister Dean Nalder said that the department had ensured that the service reductions were not as severe as Virgin had originally planned.
The City of Albany said it would support a reduction in the number of flights only if the overall passenger numbers remained the same, such as switching some flights to Fokker 100 jet aircraft, instead of Fokker 50 turboprops.
25 November 2014
QantasLink is to withdraw the Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 from Western Australia from 29 March 2015.
The company announced the changes as a result of changes to their network and schedule to better match capacity with demand, as well as increasing aircraft utilisation.
All QantasLink services out of Perth will be operated by either QantasLink Boeing 717s or Network Aviation Fokker 100s (Network is owned by Qantas Group). Network Fokker 100s are already being used on weekend services to Geraldton, in place of the QantasLink Q400s.
The new schedule will be published around 4 December 2014, with the network changes coming into effect on 29 March 2015.
Dash 8-Q400 services began with Perth – Geraldton and Perth – Learmonth services from 21 November 2011. Two aircraft are based at Perth, VH-LQD and VH-LQG. The original plan was for three or four aircraft to be based here.