VH-NHY Fokker 100 (MSN 11467) of QantasLink at Townsville Airport - July 2015. Formerly PR-OAQ with Avianca Brasil, and prior to that N1455K with American Airlines. This aircraft was recently acquired by Qantas for operation with Network Aviation, and is the first to be painted in the QantasLink livery. Photo © Qantas

VH-NHY Fokker 100 (MSN 11467) of QantasLink at Townsville Airport – 30 July 2015.
Formerly PR-OAQ with Avianca Brasil, and prior to that N1455K with American Airlines. This aircraft was recently acquired by Qantas for operation with Network Aviation, and is the first to be painted in the QantasLink livery.
Photo © Qantas

31 July 2015 © David Eyre

Qantas Group today announced that Network Aviation would now operate under the QantasLink brand, and revealed the first Fokker 100 to carry the QantasLink livery, VH-NHY, which was just delivered to the airline the previous day.

Network’s fleet of 14 Fokker 100s will be repainted in the QantasLink livery and aircrew will wear Qantas uniforms, but they will continue to operate under Network Aviation’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC). The rebranding is intended to provide a consistent brand across WA.

For most of its life, Network operated charter operations only. With a downturn in the resources industry and less demand for both RPT and FIFO flights, Qantas also saw an opportunity to use the smaller Fokker 100s to replace other QantasLink aircraft on RPT routes.

Cobham Aviation will continue to operate Boeing 717s under the QantasLink branding.

In late May 2014, the Network Fokker 100s replaced some QantasLink Boeing 717 services on the Perth-Learmonth route, and later replaced Dash 8Q-400 services on the Perth-Geraldton route.

Network Aviation history

  • 1998: Network Aviation formed by Lindsay Evans (formerly General Manager at Skippers Aviation), with two aircraft – a Cessna 310, VH-TFP, and a Cessna 441 Conquest, VH-NAX.
  • 18 March 1999: Network acquired its first Beech Super King Air 200, VH-XDB. In 2003, acquired another King Air 200, VH-SGT.
  • 10 February 2000: Network Aviation took delivery of their first Embraer 120ER Brasilia, VH-NIF (later reregistered VH-NHY). It later acquired six more.
  • 19 February 2008: Network Aviation took delivery of their first Fokker 100 jet, VH-NHO. Another two were purchased, one of which was broken up for spare parts.
  • 13 December 2010: Qantas announced that it had acquired Network Aviation, in order to capitalise on  the significant growth in the resources industry FIFO (Fly In Fly Out) charter market in Western Australia and elsewhere in Australia. At the time, Network had two Fokker 100 and six Embraer Brasilia aircraft in service, and 150 staff.
  • 17 February 2011: Qantas confirmed a major expansion of Network Aviation, announcing that they would purchase ten additional Fokker 100 aircraft.
  • July 2011: Qantas hired Hugh Davin away from Skywest to join Network Aviation. Davin had over 40-years aviation industry experience and is highly-regarded within the mining industry. He significantly boosted  resources industry charter work when he worked at National Jet (later Cobham) and later at Skywest.
  • 24 December 2011: Network Aviation took delivery of VH-NHG, the first of a batch of ten used Fokker 100 aircraft to be acquired by the airline.
  • Late 2013: Network Aviation began withdrawing the Embraer 120 Brasilia from its fleet.
  • Late May 2014: Qantas announced that Network Aviation was to operate RPT (Regular Public Transport) services on behalf of Qantas, following Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approval. Network operated three flights per week with its 100-seat Fokker 100s on the Perth-Learmonth route, formerly operated by QantasLink with 125-seat Boeing 717s. Qantas was reducing routes and capacity in Western Australia due to reducing passenger demand, brought on by a slowdown in the resources industry. Network F100s have “A Qantas Group airline” titles added.
  • 31 July 2014: Last Embraer 120 Brasilia service for Network Aviation, by VH-NHC from Degrussa to Perth.
  • March 2015: Network Aviation took over Perth-Geraldton and some Perth-Learmonth services, replacing QantasLink’s Bombardier Dash 8Q-400s, which were withdrawn from WA.
  • 17 April 2015: Qantas announce the acquisition of two additional Fokker 100s for Network Aviation: VH-NHY and VH-NHC.
  • 30 July 2015: Fokker 100 VH-NHY delivered to Perth, in QantasLink livery.
  • 31 July 2015: Qantas Group announce that Network Aviation is to operate under QantasLink brand. The company has 340 staff.

VH-NHY history:

Fokker 100 VH-NHY (MSN 11467) was formerly operated by American Airlines as N1455K from 1993 to 2004 and later by Avianca Brasil as PR-OAQ from 2007 to May 2015.

On 18 May 2015, still registered as PR-OAQ, it departed Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, arriving at Seletar, Singapore on 22 May 2015 for maintenance by Fokker Services Asia (FSA).

It was registered on 23 June 2015 as VH-NHY to Qantas (owner) and Network Aviation (operator).

On 15 July 2015, it flew Seletar – Juanda (Indonesia) – Darwin – Townsville, where it was repainted by Flying Colours Aviation into the QantasLink livery.

On 30 July 2015, it was rolled out of the paintshop and delivered the same day Townsville – Alice Springs -Perth, arriving on a stormy night.

VH-EWA “RAC Rescue” Bell 412EP (MSN 36312) of the Department of Fire & Emergency Services (operated by CHC Helicopters) at Jandakot Airport – 27 June 2015.

VH-EWA / RESCUE 651 / “RAC Rescue” Bell 412EP (MSN 36312) of the Department of Fire & Emergency Services (operated by CHC Helicopters) at Jandakot Airport – 27 June 2015.
Photo © Matt Hayes.

15 August 2013 (UPDATED 27 July 2015) © David Eyre

Second rescue helicopter ‘RESCUE 652′ to be based at Bunbury Airport

On 10 June 2015, the Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis announced that Western Australia’s second rescue helicopter will be based at Bunbury Airport, in a new facility which is about to be built.

The City of Bunbury has contributed land and initial land clearing works, as well as building fences and access roads.

The tender process for the second helicopter started in 2013, and it will enter service in early 2016, using the callsign ‘RESCUE 652′. RESCUE 652 will cover the South West, Great Southern, Peel and Wheatbelt areas of Western Australia, providing the Jandakot-based helicopter, RESCUE 651, with more time to servce Perth, the Wheatbelt, Mid-West and Gascoyne regions. Together, the two helicopters will cover 95 per cent of the population of Western Australia.

The current Perth-based rescue helicopter, Bell 412EP VH-EWA, has already changed its callsign from ‘RESCUE 65′ to ‘RESCUE 651′.

Service in high demand

WA currently has only one dedicated civilian rescue helicopter, Bell 412EP VH-EWA ‘RESCUE 651′, also known as the “RAC Rescue helicopter”, which is based at Jandakot Airport.

The helicopter is managed by the WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), partly funded by the WA State Government, with RAC as the main sponsor and CHC Helicopters providing the helicopter and flight crew.

RESCUE 651 completed over 600 rescue missions across WA during the 2013/2014 financial year, but some rescue requests could not be attended, as the helicopter was already tasked on other rescue flights.

The South West of WA has seen rapidly increasing demand for the rescue helicopter, from its increasing population and an increasing number of tourists visiting the area, especially at Christmas and other holiday periods. This leads to more car accidents and more of a need to service the South West with greater search and rescue capabilities,” he said.

The Minister first confirmed on 15 August 2013 that a second rescue helicopter would be acquired, using $15.3 million of funding from the Royalties for Regions program. The latest statement now says that the State Government has allocated $29.95 million from the Royalties for Regions program over four years to establish the service.

As reported on AviationWA on 5 February 2013, the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC) was lobbying the political parties in the lead up to the 2013 State Election, to acquire a second rescue helicopter for the South West of Western Australia.

 

 

VH-EBH Airbus A330-203 (MSN 892) of Qantas, named 'Hunter Valley' at Perth Airport – Fri 5 September 2014. QF775 from Melbourne, landing on runway 03 at 8:12am. Photo © David Eyre

VH-EBH Airbus A330-203 (MSN 892) of Qantas, named ‘Hunter Valley’ at Perth Airport – Fri 5 September 2014.
QF775 from Melbourne, landing on runway 03 at 8:12am.
Photo © David Eyre

A39-005 Airbus KC-30A (A330-203MRTT) (MSN 1183) of 33 Squadron, RAAF, based at Amberley, QLD, at Perth Airport - 12 May 2015.

A39-005 Airbus KC-30A (A330-203MRTT) (MSN 1183) of 33 Squadron, RAAF, based at Amberley, QLD, at Perth Airport – 12 May 2015.
Lining up ready for a runway 03 departure at 11:02 am.
Photo © Keith Anderson.

Copyright © David Eyre –  1 July 2015

The RAAF is purchasing two ex-Qantas Airbus A330-200 aircraft, VH-EBH (MSN 892) and VH-EBI (MSN 898), from lessor CIT Aerospace by the end of 2015, for conversion to KC-30A multi-role tanker transports (MRTT) at a total cost of $408 million. Airbus says an MRTT conversion takes 10-12 months.

VH-EBH was withdrawn from Qantas service and will be returned to CIT on 21 July 2015, whilst VH-EBI will be withdrawn in September and returned to CIT on 20 November 2015. VH-EBH was delivered to Qantas in January 2008, and VH-EBI the following month.

The conversion will take 10-12 months per aircraft and will be performed by Airbus Defence and Space at Getafe, Spain, for delivery to the RAAF in 2018.

This is the first time an in-service A330-200 has been converted to an MRTT, and it involves installation of underwing hose and drogue refuelling pods, a refuelling boom and cameras under the rear fuselage, as well as other military equipment. The RAAF’s five other KC-30As were all acquired new  and were purchased with similar specification and engines to Qantas A330s, for ease of maintenance.

The departure of VH-EBH and EBI leaves Qantas with 25 A330s: 15 A330-200s and 10 A330-300s.

USS Bonhomme Richard arriving at Fremantle - 25 June 2015

USS Bonhomme Richard arriving at Fremantle – 25 June 2015
Photo © Keith Anderson.

25 June 2015 © Keith Anderson.

The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) docked in Fremantle Harbour at around 9:00 am this morning. The liberty visit is associated with the training exercise Talisman Sabre 2015, to be held over approximately 20 days in early- to mid-July 2015.

The USS Bonhomme Richard is the command ship for Expeditionary Strike Group Seven, forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan. It carried a total of 25 aircraft: 22 assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) comprising of MV-22B Osprey, CH-53E Super Stallions, AV-8B Harrier II; and three MH-60S Seahawks of the US Navy. AH-1W Sea Cobras and UH-1y Hueys are also usually carried, but for this cruise they were embarked aboard the USS Green Bay.

USS Green Bay (LPD-20), a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, was the first of its class to visit Fremantle.  It was designed to deliver a fully equipped battalion of 800 marines. It entered port this morning with 4 AH-1W Sea Cobras and 3 UH-1Y Venoms of the 31st MEU on the deck.

The third ship to enter the harbour this morning was USS Preble (DDG-88) an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. She carries two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters of the US Navy.

AviationWA visited USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6). We have compiled a special article and photo page featuring photos of the arrival and departure of the ships, aerial photos and photos taken aboard.

Perth Airport taxiways  - 27 June 2015. The new taxways are shown in blue. © Airservices Australia

Perth Airport taxiways – 27 June 2015. The new taxways are shown in blue. © Airservices Australia

27 June 2015 © David Eyre

Perth Airport today opened the recently lengthened Taxiway Charlie.

Taxiway Charlie is located to the east of and parallel with runway 03/21. It was extended at the south end, and now joins to the threshold of runway 03 via a new taxiway ‘Charlie 11’.

Previously, taxiway C ended about one-third of the distance from the threshold of runway 03, requiring some aircraft to either take off at the intersection of Taxiway L or cross the runway on taxiway Lima to then proceed down the western side of the runway on taxiway Alpha to the south end for take-off. This caused some delays and safety issues, as aircraft had to cross the active runway.

The extension of taxiway Charlie will reduce taxying time by 20 per cent.

Spectators at the Perth Airport Viewing Area will be a little disappointed that less aircraft will taxy immediately in front of the viewing area, but it provides some different viewing angles for aircraft photography.

Existing taxiways are to be renamed as follows:

  • ‘Taxiway Kilo’ will be renamed ‘Taxiway Alpha 7’.
  • ‘Taxiway Lima 1’ will be renamed ‘Taxiway Alpha 9’.
  • ‘Taxiway Lima 2’ will be renamed ‘Taxiway Charlie 9’.
  • ‘Taxiway Mike’ will be renamed ‘TaxiwayAlpha 11’.

 

VH-XZP Boeing 737-838(W) (MSN 44577) of Qantas at Perth Airport – 26 June 2015

VH-XZP Boeing 737-838(W) (MSN 44577) of Qantas at Perth Airport – 26 June 2015
Qantas resumed services on the Perth – Singapore route on 26 June with retro roo Boeing 737-838 VH-XZP operating the 5 times per week QF71- QF72 rotation.” Regular Qantas services between Perth and Singapore were terminated on 11 May 2014, though some seasonal services operated during the 2014 July school holidays.
Photo © Allan Tilley.

VH-XZP Boeing 737-838(W) (MSN 44577) of Qantas at Perth Airport – 26 June 2015

VH-XZP Boeing 737-838(W) (MSN 44577) of Qantas at Perth Airport – 26 June 2015
Qantas resumed services on the Perth – Singapore route on 26 June with retro roo Boeing 737-838 VH-XZP operating the 5 times per week QF71- QF72 rotation.” Regular Qantas services between Perth and Singapore were terminated on 11 May 2014, though some seasonal services operated during the 2014 July school holidays.
Photo © Allan Tilley.

26 June 2015 – Copyright © David Eyre

Qantas resumed regularly scheduled Qantas international flights from Perth, with the departure today of flight QF71 to Singapore, operated by Boeing 737-800 VH-XZP ‘James Strong’, which has the special ‘Retro Roo’ livery.

QF71 departed with a full passenger load just after midday and the aircraft was given a water cannon salute by fire crews as it taxied out.

Qantas had ceased operating regular international flights from Perth on 11 May 2014, with the final Perth-Singapore-Perth service operated by Airbus A330-200 VH-EBI. The route had been controversially dropped due to “under-performing”. A temporary Singapore service with A330s operated during July 2014.

QF71/72 operates five times per week using 168-seat Boeing 737-800s, but if demand increases, then it could be up scaled to an A330. The departs Perth at midday and arrives in Singapore at 5.20pm, with the return flight departing Singapore at 6.25pm, arriving into Perth at 11.40pm.

Singapore is the second largest source of foreign visitors to Perth. About 80,000 Singapore visitors travelled to WA between September 2013 and September 2014, spending a total of $193 million around the state.

More than 50 flights per week operate between Perth and Singapore. Singapore Airlines, Scoot and Jetstar Asia also operate on the route.

  • 9V-OJD Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (MSN 37115/308) named 'Big Yella Fella' of Scoot, over Henley Brook, north of Perth - Thu 4 June 2015. First visit to Perth by 9V-OJD. Flight TZ8 from Singapore seen at 5:20pm just after sunset, at 2,800 feet on descent, joining the approach to Perth Airport's runway 21. Photo © David Eyre
    9V-OJD Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (MSN 37115/308) named 'Big Yella Fella' of Scoot, over Henley Brook, north of Perth - Thu 4 June 2015. First visit to Perth by 9V-OJD. Flight TZ8 from Singapore seen at 5:20pm just after sunset, at 2,800 feet on descent, joining the approach to Perth Airport's runway 21. Photo © David Eyre

20 June 2015 – copyright © David Eyre

The State Government has announced that Busselton Regional Airport is to have its terminal and runway upgraded under a $59.7 million project.

Busselton Regional Airport is currently limited to CASA Code 3C aircraft on intrastate flights, such as the Fokker 100s of Virgin Australia taking mine workers to iron ore mines in the Pilbara region.

Under the project, it will be upgraded to take Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft (CASA Code 4C), which will enable direct interstate aviation services.

Additional land is to be purchased to enable the runway to be extended and widened. The terminal and car park will also be expanded. Construction is expected to start in early 2017, with completion by mid-2018.

The Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett also announced that consideration would be given to a new name for the airport, given its increased importance for the whole Margaret River region. The name will be chosen by the public, with the list of suggestions including Margaret River Airport, Busselton-Margaret River Airport, Capes-Margaret River Airport, Cape Naturaliste Airport and Vasse Airport.

It is expected that the airport upgrade will help generate tourism and jobs, as well as boosting air freight capacity and enabling larger aircraft to be used on FIFO flights. The Premier also hopes that the upgrade will make international flights possible in the late 2020s.

The Government will include some financial incentives to attract Qantas and Virgin to operate services to Busselton from the Eastern States.

9M-MTA Airbus A330-323X (MSN 1209) and 9M-MXG Boeing 737-8H6 (MSN 40134/3873) of Malaysia Airlines, at Perth Airport – Sun 28 December 2014. Two Malaysia Airlines aircraft together at Perth. 9M-MTA has just parked at Bay 53 after arriving as flight MH125 from Kuala Lumpur at 3:02pm. Behind is 9M-MXG, taxying out for departure as flight MH120 to Kota Kinabalu. Photo © David Eyre

9M-MTA Airbus A330-323X (MSN 1209) and 9M-MXG Boeing 737-8H6 (MSN 40134/3873) of Malaysia Airlines, at Perth Airport – Sun 28 December 2014.
Two Malaysia Airlines aircraft together at Perth. 9M-MTA has just parked at Bay 53 after arriving as flight MH125 from Kuala Lumpur at 3:02pm. Behind is 9M-MXG, taxying out for departure as flight MH120 to Kota Kinabalu.
Photo © David Eyre

27 May 2015 Copyright © David Eyre

Malaysia Airlines is to undergo a complete revamp, as it is restructured into a new company.

The airline has not made a profit since 2008 and in the three years to 2013, losses totalled $1.3 billion. Part of this was due to strong competition from low-cost airlines, such as AirAsia, but Malaysia Airlines was also hampered by high operating costs caused by overstaffing, union disputes, and government interference. It then suffered two tragedies, with the disappearance of MH370 in March 2014 and the shootdown of MH17 in July 2014, which shook customer confidence.  Following this, the airline was withdrawn from the stock market and taken over by Khazanah Nasional, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, which announced a $1.8 billion restructuring plan.

Christoph Mueller, the newly-appointed German CEO, is the airline’s first foreign CEO and he had previously led restructures at Ireland’s Aer Lingus, Belgium’s Sabena and Germany’s Lufthansa. He said that “It’s not a continuation of the old company in a new disguise, everything is new.” The revamp will transform Malaysia Airlines into a new “start-up” airline.

Mueller has advised staff that the airline will have to undergo a difficult and painful restructure, with the possibility of up to 8,000 job cuts from the 20,000 employees. Starting today, all 20,000 staff will be sent termination letters, but two-thirds of these workers will also receive a second letter offering them the chance to be rehired under new employment conditions.  Union members have threatened a strike after the termination letters are issued. The staff who are not re-employed will receive compensation payments and will be released in phases. Several airlines, including Korean Airlines and Qatar Airways, recently conducted recruitment roadshows in Malaysia, hoping to attract flight crews from Malaysia Airlines.

Key changes reportedly include:

  • Rebranding: possible new name, livery and uniforms.
  • Routes review: It is expected that the airline will withdraw from a number of European and Middle Eastern routes, to focus on routes in the South East Asia region
  • Fleet changes: The fleet will be smaller and used more efficiently. Mueller confirmed that the airline has been trying to find buyers for two of its Airbus A380 aircraft, but he expects to keep a number of the aircraft types it currently has, including the Airbus A330s, Boeing 737-800s and Boeing 777-200s.
  • New company: Assets and liabilities are being transferred to a new company, Malaysia Airlines Bhd, which is due to start operating by September 2015.
  • Staff cuts: Up to 8,000 job losses and remaining staff offered a job with new employment conditions.
  • Supplier contracts renegotiated on better terms

 

 

HB-VXA Pilatus PC-24 prototype (MSN P01) taking off on its first flight at Buochs Airport, Stans, Switzerland - Mon 11 May 2015. Photo © Pilatus

HB-VXA Pilatus PC-24 prototype (MSN P01) taking off on its first flight at Buochs Airport, Stans, Switzerland – Mon 11 May 2015. Photo © Pilatus

15 May 2015 © David Eyre

The donation by Rio Tinto will go to the RFDS Aero Medical Fund, to fund their new PC-24 jets, a flight simulator and a new RFDS base in Broome.

As reported in AviationWA on 22 May 2014, the RFDS ordered three Pilatus PC24 planes plus one option for $12.4 million each.

Compared to the RFDS’s current Pilatus PC-12 turboprops, the new PC-24s travel twice as far, in half the time.

Since 2009, Rio Tinto has funded VH-RIO, the Hawker 800XP ‘Life Flight’ jet, which had evacuated almost 1500 patients, mostly from the Kimberley and Pilbara regions. The Hawker 800XP can carry two critically ill patients at a time, each with their own doctor and nurse team. The new PC24 jets will be able to take three stretcher patients at the same time. Unlike most other jets, the PC-24s can also operate from dirt airstrips and be flown by a single pilot.

Rio Tinto has donated a total of $22.5 million to the RFDS over the last decade.

The PC-24 made a successful first flight earlier this week on 11 May 2015, at Buochs Airport, Stans, Switzerland. The aircraft is due to be certified for service in 2017, and the first two years of production is already sold out. Below is video footage by Pilatus of the first flight :