19 January 2018

LGC flies again

Ex Great Barrier Airlines' BN Trislander ZK-LGC is flying again having been cancelled from the register in June 2016...

ZK-LGC at North Shore on 12 March 2013

It is now flying for Roraima Airways in Guyana, South America as 8R-GRE. Photo by Gerry Gouveia on the ‎Britten-Norman Aircraft Preservation Society Facebook page

18 January 2018

Westport Last Weekend

Thanks to Jarden who sent these pics of Sounds Air's Pilatus PC12 and the Westport terminal taken on Sunday the 14th of January 2018

Watching 6

Getting closer...

17 January 2018

16 January 2018

West Coast Last Week

From a plane spotting perspective it was a pretty disappointing trip to home country last week... Lousy weather elsewhere in the country, then lousy weather on the Coast meant there were no visitors. And what with family obligations I didn't get much time to check all the heliports...
However I did bike the West Coast Wilderness Trail which I can really recommend

Bombardier Q300 ZK-NEP taxis into Hokitika on 8 January 2018
Bombardier Q300 ZK-NEF taxis into Hokitika on 12 January 2018
Aerospatiale Squirrel ZK-HDQ was about to do a couple of flights from its pad on the Whataroa River on 12 January 2018
Air Safaris' Gippsland Airvan at Franz Josef on 12 January 2018
Mountain Helicopters' Hughes 500E ZK-HCC was off on a Glacier flight from Fox Glacier on 12 January 2018
 Mountain Helicopter's stablemate Aerospatiale Squirrel ZK-HYO at Fox Glacier also on 12 January 2018
The following day I caught Skydive Fox's Fletcher ZK-DJE on short finals at Fox Glacier

14 January 2018

Watching 4 - Diverted

Second Saab Arrives

Arriving into Auckland last evening was Air Chathams' second Saab 340. N357GU is a B model and it too was sourced in Guam flying to New Zealand via Honiara. 

Air Kaikoura and it's Parikawa life line.

The Kaikoura Aero Club was established in 1983 offering training and air charter. 

A couple of the Kaikoura Aero Club's Cessna A150 Aerobats... ZK-DJP at Kaikoura on 12 September 1985
and ZK-DJW at Kaikoura on 14 May 1988

In the early 1990s the potential of whale watching flights was recognised and in 1993 the Kaikoura Aero Club established Air Tours Kaikoura which used the club's Piper PA28 Cherokee 180 ZK-DGM and Cessna U206G Stationair ZK-KAI. The Air Tours Kaikoura operation was soon taken over by local businessman Rodney Harmon. 

The Kaikoura Aero Club's initial whale watching operation was Air Tours Kaikoura.
Piper PA28 Cherokee 180 ZK-DGM at Kaikoura on 21 December 1993

With the closure of Air Tours Kaikoura in 1999 the Kaikoura Aero Club resumed its own whale watching flights in the early 2000s under the name Air Kaikoura.

Following the earthquake on the 14th of November 2016 Kiakoura was cut off from the rest of the country and Air Kaikoura began operating shuttle flights north to Blenheim's Omaka aerodrome and south to Rangiora.

From the 4th of December 2016 Air Kaikoura started operating a regular shuttle service between Kaikoura and Parikawa using Piper PA28 Cherokee 180 ZK-DUQ and Piper PA32 Cherokee 6 ZK-DOP. Parikawa is locality north of the Clarence River with a long airstrip. The shuttle flights enabled locals from this area to access Kaikoura while others drove from Blenheim, left their cars at Parikawa then flew around the slips. Such flights enabled people to easily do day trips to Kaikoura or Blenheim.

Air Kaikoura's Piper Cherokee 6 ZK-DOP at Kaikoura on 4 January 2018

Piper Cherokee 180 ZK-DUQ at Kaikoura on 23 February 2017

The location of Parikawa airfield north of Clarence

To assist with this work the Club bought Cessna 172 ZK-JCT. The 15-minute flight replaced what would have been a 40-minute drive if the road was open. The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance saw the importance of the service and supplied a 'terminal', or portacabin, and portaloo for travellers. 

Cessna 172 ZK-JCT gets airborne from Parikawa

Speaking on the Parikawa service Air Kaikōura's manager, Murray Hamilton, said We’re providing a lifeline for people to get between Clarence and Kaikōura. The new service was important as it helped the northern end of the district to feel connected with their own community, and was particularly busy on a Monday and Friday with people getting to Kaikoura to work for the week. Clients included hospital staff, insurance companies and even 20 people heading from Clarence to Christchurch for a Bruce Springsteen concert. "It's really important that they feel more connected to the Kaikoura community. Parikawa is particularly busy Mondays and Fridays running at least four flights on these days. Other days flights are on demand. "It's been great for our relationships with the local community from a club perspective...we have even had more people wanting to learn to fly."  By the end of April 2017 Air Kaikoura had operated a 175 flights into Parikawa. During the winter the service was put on a temporary hold due to flooding on the Parikawa airstrip. Kaikoura Helicopter Services introduced a replacement for the route for the weeks the airstrip was closed.

The Parikawa plane - Cessna 172 ZK-JCT at Kaikoura on 4 January 2018

By the time State Highway 1 re-opened in mid-December 2017 Air Kaikoura had flown the Parikawa loop service close to 600 times with locals, businesspeople and tourists using the service that operated up to 15 times a day.

Another feature of the Air Kaikoura operation was the addition of the Aeropro Eurofox A240 ZK-TUG to the fleet and this aircraft is used for pilot training and back country flying.

Aeropro Eurofox A240 ZK-TUG at Kaikoura on 4 January 2018
Also, following the earthquake Air Kaikoura have worked closely with Ridge Air of Blenheim. This involved working on multiple charter contracts with Ridge Air as well as coming to  an agreement to start Multi-Engine Training, Multi-Engine Instrument Ratings and charter work. 

Air Kaikoura is currently looking to build new facilities at Kaikoura Airport. I asked Murray Hamilton whether Air Kaikoura would be interested in starting an air service to Wellington. He said, "Others have tried and failed and we are busy enough with our whale watching flights. Adding a twin to the fleet brings its own problems and a scheduled service doesn't guarantee the numbers we carry on our whale watching flights." From my observation I have never seen Kaikoura as busy as when I drove through on the 4th, an observation shared by the locals. With a booming tourist industry Air Kaikoura's future looks bright. 

To find out more about Air Kaikoura's operation see : https://www.airkaikoura.co.nz/ 

13 January 2018

2nd Saab on the way...

Air Chathams' second new Saab 340, N357GU is enroute to Auckland... It flew Guam-Honiara yesterday and is expected to arrive in Auckland this evening.

12 January 2018

11 January 2018

Amazing photos...

During the week I was sent some amazing colour photos of Sunderland operations connected to the Chatham Island service. Ross McLeod writes - The attached photos which may be of some interest to you and your colleagues were taken by my father, Frank McLeod throughout the years 1958, 1959 and 1960 when we lived at Owenga where Dad was sole teacher."

The photos can be found at -

09 January 2018

Air Chathams Update

Today was an exciting day for Air Chathams as the first of two Saab 340 additions to the fleet arrived in Auckland. Saab 340A N135GU arrived into Auckland on its delivery flight from Guam via Honiara in the Solomon Islands. Noel Jones captured its arrival...

This follows Air Chathams' expansion last year when it put two Convair 580 freighters into service and purchased Airwork's Metro 23s... So just what is Air Chathams using the Convairs and Metro 23s for??? Air Chathams' Duane Emeny has given me a few answers... 

Regarding Convairs... we have ZK-KFL based on the Chathams providing freight support for seafood exports on the Chathams over the busy Summer season. It will then return to Auckland. Going forward we will continue to support Freightways where requested and we have been approached for possible freight contracts in Australia.

KFL at the Chathams on the 8th of February 2017

Metro ZK-POF is currently supporting passenger services and ZK-POE requires numerous calendar inspections prior to our application to be placed on Ops Specs.

Air Chathams' Metro 23 ZK-POF on on arrival on a charter to Tauranga on the 7th of January 2017

It is shaping up to be an exciting year for Air Chathams.

A big thanks to Duane for the info and to Noel, Bruce and Pete for the photos! Such help gives the blog life!

The rise of the Phoenix

Great news on the Sunair Facebook page... I for one look forward to Sunair getting airborne again soon and being able once again to access their services from Gisborne to Hamilton...

Sunair would like to wish you all the very best for 2018. We are expecting to be operating shortly and will announce this by relisting our website and 0800 number. Until then we appreciate your patience and loyalty to Sunair. If you wish to contact us (07) 575 7799 or email info@sunair.co.nz. Best wishes, Dan and Bev

A few days earlier I received a really interesting email from a reputable pilot who was able to step up the ladder because of the experience that he gained with Sunair.

Many very respected names across General Aviation in the north island are pulling together to help out this reputable airline, in various rolls across the company to help get it back airborne. Our pilot writes,

Sunair, and the Powers, have had support from all quarters outside of our esteemed regulator and will be flying within 8 weeks. CAA have seemingly united the industry against it, and I think we will see that from Sunair, who yet again live to breathe another day. 

Sunair is a respected airline, and does a job for up and coming pilots (along with other 3rd level operators BA, FMS, Sounds, Air2There, Stewart Island Flights) to get them real world, commercial SPIFR experience that no amount of instructing background can give - deadlines, passengers, all weather MCTOW flying that is experience that cannot be understated. The skills that those companies named give to younger pilots at the beginning of their career is invaluable to aviation in NZ as a whole. 

The Powers have given many a lifeline to pilots since the mid 1980’s, and I think in the next little while we shall see that repaid twice fold. They have moved many thousands of passengers safely, continually being doubted from other sectors of the industry that many not have a full and clear understanding of Sunair’s modus operandi.

There are not too many airlines in this country, founded in the 1980’s, under the same directorship that still operate in the current environment and it is a testament to the Powers hard work and determination. 

The story of Sunair shall continue, and I for one am happy and relieved it is. 

From what I have heard Sunair have suffered a real raw deal and the concept of CAA working with this operator (and others) to ensure public safety has been lost. It always has to be a partnership. CAA may come to rue their approach to this and other operators.

I am also aware that at times people have on this blog and other forums have vented their spleens on various operators and their so called limitations, but often they forget these are small operators and trying to survive in a difficult and complex industry. They also forget that many pilots flying international routes today need the experience they gained in our small operators. If anyone wants to vent their spleen with their own agendas on individuals I would prefer people email me on westland831@gmail.com rather than putting comments that are offensive to the people concerned.

08 January 2018

Exciting Arrivals...

I had an email from Duane Emeny from Air Chathams today with exciting news!

All going to plan we should have two Saabs arriving tomorrow evening with US registrations and no markings. Just in case you wanted to let your friends on the airport hill know :-)

Congratulations to Duane and the Air Chats team and we look forward to seeing how you deploy them!

A look back at the past blog headers - 2017