31 May 2010

Piston Single Engine IFR Operators

Form the previous post on Stewart Island Flights I made the following comment, "Until that time South East Air was only one of two New Zealand operators who operated at night in a single engine piston aircraft, the other being Air Napier on their Napier-Wairoa-Gisborne courier service." The source for this was the CAA Vector magazine...

However as Bruce Gavin has pointed out there have been other single-piston IFR freight or courier operators. Bruce writes,

Motor Holdings Aviation Ltd of Dunedin operated SEIFR Dunedin-Christchurch night air freight circa 1983 with C.206 ZK-EKJ and then C.210 ZK-210 ZK-TWA.

Other possiblities:
Bay Air Aviation of Rotorua operated Rotorua-Auckland circa 1993-96 with Cessna R172K ZK-FGF and on occasion Piper PA-28-181 ZK-ESK or one of the Rotorua Aero Club's Cessna 172s.

There were also the turbine Cessna 208s of Skyferry/Soundsair, Rex Aviation (NZ) Ltd/Ansett Air Freight and Rawson Aviation Ltd which were single engine night freight.


Have there been any other SEIFR piston operators out there that you pilots, ATC folk or plane spotters know of???

Please search the memory banks and post a comment or email me at westland831@gmail.com

30 May 2010

NZ's Southern Most Airline: Part 4 - Stewart Island Flights


This is the final part of a four part series on New Zealand's southern most airline. The first part was on Stewart Island Air Services (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/04/nzs-southern-most-airline-pt-1-stewart.html) and the second and third parts were on Southern Air (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/nzs-southern-most-airline-part-2.html; http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/nzs-southern-most-airline-part-3.html).

South East Air was established by Raymond Hector and Bill Moffatt in 1993 using Cessna 185E ZK-JEM for beach operations to Stewart Island's west coast beaches, Codfish Island for the Department of Conservation and general New Zealand wide charter flights. South East Air Ltd bought Southern Air 1997 Ltd in April 2000, which now operates as Stewart Island Flights.


South East Air Ltd's Cessna 185, ZK-JEM on beach work. Photos : Raymond Hector Collection

South East Air started an IFR post run from Invercargill to Dunedin and return on the 4th June 1996 using a Piper PA32 Cherokee 6 ZK-DBC. This aircraft was used for nine months until it was replaced by ZK-RTS which the company bought and flew in from Australia in January 1996. The last NZ Post flight by South East Air, from Invercargill to Dunedin and return, was flown by George Cuthill in ZK-RTS on the 9th October 2009. After that NZ Post vans took over the mail delivery. Until that time South East Air was only one of two New Zealand operators who operated at night in a single engine piston aircraft, the other being Air Napier on their Napier-Wairoa-Gisborne courier service.

Piper Pa32 Cherokee 6, ZK-RTS, normally used for the NZ Post service to Dunedin is also seen here on beach work. Photos : Raymond Hector Collection


Stewart Island Flights continue to operate two Britten Norman Islanders, ZK-FWZ and ZK-FXE, one Cessna 185, ZK-JEM and two Piper Cherokee 6's, ZK-DIV and ZK-RTS to maintain the daily three return scheduled flights to and from Stewart Island's township and the west coast beaches. The company also continues to be available for air ambulance work to Stewart Island. South East Air Ltd is the parent company and holder of the Air Operator Certificate, under which Stewart Island Flights and Invercargill Aircraft Maintenance are operated.

Above, my one and only photo of one of Stewart Island Flights' aircraft... BN Islander ZK-FWZ on a very wet Invercargill day, 26 July 2006. Photo : S Lowe. Below, a far better day as BN Islander ZK-FXE overflies Stewart Island. Photo : Raymond Hector Collection
Stewart Island Flights continues and retains the total commitment to provide a friendly, efficient air service to Stewart Island that was first seen in Stewart Island Air Services operation and carried on by Southern Air. For 32 years these companies have been always been there for the Stewart Island community as well as providing easy tourist access to one of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations. Long may the service continue.


Islander on the beach. Photo : Raymond Hector Collection

A big thanks to Raymond Hector for his help on this post and for the great photos from his collection.

29 May 2010

Great Barrier Trislander Report


The following is the TAIC summary of the report detailing the loss of the engine assembly in Great Barrier Airlines' BN Trislander, ZK-LOU, last year. The full report is available on the TAIC site. It is pleasing to see that Great Barrier Airlines comes out of the report quite well...

Investigation 09-004
Report 09-004, Britten Norman BN2A-Mk III Trislander, ZK-LOU loss of engine propeller assembly, near Claris, Great Barrier Island, 5 July 2009
Shortly after take-off at approximately 1305 on 5 July 2009, the right engine propeller assembly of ZK-LOU, a 3-engine Trislander, separated from the engine crankshaft and struck the side of the aeroplane. Nobody was seriously injured, but the aeroplane fuselage was extensively damaged and a passenger door was removed, leaving a large opening adjacent to some passengers.
Undetected corrosion of the propeller flange had led to extensive cracking and its eventual failure. Safety issues identified included the need for detailed checking of overseas component records to ensure their reported in-service hours were accurate and for periodic crack checking of propeller flanges for corrosion damage. A safety recommendation regarding component record-checking was made to the Director of Civil Aviation, and the Civil Aviation Authority issued a Continuing Airworthiness Notice regarding inspections of crankshaft flanges for corrosion.

The report includes this section on damage to the aircraft...

The right engine crankshaft flange that attached to the propeller hub had fractured through lightening holes in the flange. The complete propeller assembly had released from the fractured crankshaft flange and struck the side of the fuselage adjacent to the engine, substantially damaging the fuselage. The fuselage skin had been penetrated in places and a passenger window Perspex had shattered, but nobody was seated in that passenger row. Immediately behind the window the propeller assembly struck a passenger door next to which a passenger had been seated. The door hinges were damaged and the door fell from the aeroplane, leaving a large hole in the side of the fuselage by the passenger (see Figure 2).

No part of the propeller assembly entered the cabin, but the cabin interior lining and insulation were damaged and pushed inwards onto some of the passengers (see Figure 3).

The abstract talks about extensive damage while this doesn't seem to talk of much major damage at all. This raises the question, what has happened to ZK-LOU? And an even bigger question... when is ZK-LGF going to fly?
ZK-LOU in happier days... at Auckland on 10 October 2008. Photo : S Lowe

flyDirect's plane arrives home???


Arriving back in Wellington yesterday was Vincent Aviation's DHC Dash 8 ZK-VAC after a flight across the Tasman from Sydney via Lord Howe Island and Auckland. It is expected it will the aircraft used for flyDirect's services from Wellington and Christchurch to Wanaka. The company is being set up with local businesses to promote Wanaka as a destination. Until midnight Monday 31 May they are offering flyDirect return flights and 2 nights’ accommodation ex Christchurch only $149 and ex Wellington only $199. PLUS buy two adult 3-day ski passes and we’ll throw in a FREE Jucy rental car for up to FIVE DAYS. and a very good special is still. The catch is, you can't buy air tickets alone!

28 May 2010

Air Freight's Convairs - End of a Colour Scheme


The familiar red, white and blue colour scheme of Air Freight (NZ) Ltd's Convairs has finally disappeared sometime over the last twelve months. ZK-KFH was the last Convair to be repainted in the quite plane white colour scheme, which despite its blandness, actually suits the Convairs and makes them look quite sharp. The red white and blue colour scheme has been on the Convairs since Air Freight NZ started in 1989, thought the logo on the tail has been simplified over the years. Meanwhile, every night these old and faithful work horses truck up and down the country between Auckland and Christchurch.
ZK-FTA sporting the original colour scheme and logo at Auckland on 30 January 1992. Photo : S Lowe

ZK-KFH in the old colour scheme (above) at Auckland on 23 June 2009 and repainted in the new scheme (below) at Auckland on 15 May 2010




27 May 2010

Post Update - Eagle's Service to Taumarunui on the Main Trunk Line


I have been given one correction on my post on Eagle Air operating to Taumarunui...
http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/taumarunui-on-main-trunk-line.html

The Eagle timetable number 19 of 1 October 1978 (has Baron photos) NO MENTION OF TAUMARUNUI.

The Eagle timetable number 20 of 1 April 1979 (has Chieftain photos) HAS HAMILTON TO NEW PLYMOUTH VIA TAUMARUNUI non scheduled service.

The Eagle timetable number 21 which has no effective date (has Chieftain photos) HAS HAMILTON TO NEW PLYMOUTH VIA TAUMARUNUI non scheduled service, SAME TIMES AS ABOVE.

The Eagle timetable number 22 which has no effective date (has Bandeirante photos) HAS HAMILTON TO NEW PLYMOUTH BUT NO MENTION OF TAUMARANUI.


Thanks to Bruce Gavin for this... It would still be interesting to hear a little more of this brief Eagle Air service.

Post Updates - Associated Airlines


I have been given one correction on my post on Associated Airlines... http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/associated-air-paraparaumus-friendly.html

On 20 November 1995 Associated Airlines once again began operating a daily return each weekday between Paraparaumu and Auckland in their own name using their Cessna 421 Golden Eagle. Until then they had been flying the route twice-weekly on contract to Air Nelson.

I had the start date as January 1996.

The original post has been corrected...

However I would still like to know, if anyone has this information,
  • The date Metroliners were withdrawn from Papaparaumu
  • Details of the Air Nelson Paraparaumu-Auckland Cessna 421 service.
Please write a comment or e-mail me at westland831@gmail.com  

26 May 2010

Taumarunui on the Main Trunk Line


Following on from the post about timetables http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/pdf-timetables-new-way-to-get-your-air.html over the next little while I will post some interesting little historical snippets from various companys' timetables...

Taumarunui was apparently "immortalised" about being on the main trunk line by Pete Cape's folk song. (http://folksong.org.nz/taumarunui/index.html) however there was a time when it also had a non-scheduled air service operated by Eagle Air to and from both Hamilton and New Plymouth that was operated, as required, as part of the Hamilton-New Plymouth route. Unfortunately the Eagle Air timetable of it is undated so I have no idea when the service started, ended or if it operated very often. I would be surprised if the service would not have been a real winner.

As an aside, Taumarunui also had a railcar service to and from New Plymouth that connected with the north and south bound express trains/railcars from Auckland to Wellington that went through Whangamomona. The line recently experienced sever damage after a derailment and Kiwirail has moth balled it pending a decision on its fate.





If you know anything more about the air service to Taumarunui please drop me a line at westland831@gmail.com

25 May 2010

Fleet Changes for Soundsair and Air Discovery



A couple of fleets changes have appeared on the NZ Civil Aircraft register...

Soundsair Grand Caravan ZK-SAA has been registered to Kakadu Air Services Pty Ltd of Darwin, Australia. Apparently it is with them on a three month lease... see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/soundsair-tasman-sojourn.html

Cessna 172 ZK-MDR which was operating with FlightHauraki has now been registered to Air Discovery... see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/waiheke-discovery.html

24 May 2010

Great Barrier Airlines Report Released


This is a reporting of an incident report... though the reports headline doesn't make it clear. Once again a case of newspapers over-reacting????

Source : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10645744

23 May 2010 - Plane makes emergency landing
A passenger plane owned by a troubled airline was forced to make an emergency landing after power loss in one of its engines. The twin-engine Partenavia P68B, belonging to Great Barrier Airlines, got into trouble about three minutes after taking off from the Island's Claris Airfield on November 4. A Civil Aviation Authority report says the right-hand engine "suddenly lost power, then surged back up again" before another loss 10 to 15 seconds later. As the power continued to surge, extra power was selected for the left engine, while the right idled. The aircraft returned to the airfield for an "uneventful landing", the report says. A maintenance investigation discovered the fuel line to the engine pump was in contact with heat from the engine exhaust. The heating may have caused vapour to develop in the fuel line. The report says this was the second time the aircraft had experienced such a problem. The incident is the latest in a string of troubles suffered by the airline dating back to 1998 when the entire fleet was grounded by former CAA director Kevin Ward for "critical deficiencies", including flying aircraft with known defects. Last July, terrified passengers watched as a propeller came off their aircraft mid-air. And in September, a Piper Cherokee 6 crashed into a swamp moments after take-off from Claris. The CAA and Transport Accident Investigation Commission are still investigating. The airline did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Associated Air - First Flights for Air Nelson


When Air New Zealand announced the withdrawal of Friendship services from Westport and Hokitika and the withdrawal of the midday flight to Timaru Air Nelson had only a limited time to source and bring into service its first two Metroliners. In the event, the timeline proved to be too tight and it was Associated Air's Cessna 402 ZK-DSB that flew the first Air Nelson flight to Hokitika, and then, later in the day the first Air Nelson flight to Timaru.

The West Coast Times on the 31st of October 1988 reported, "Landing 35 minutes late, the Cessna 402 twin turbo-prop aircraft piloted by Keith Jenkins turned out to be chartered from Associated Air of Paraparaumu. Mr Jenkins said the flight was uneventful apart from strong headwinds all the way."
The first Air Nelson flight to Hokitika. Cessna 402 ZK-DSB at Hokitika on 31 October 1988. Photo : West Coast Times

The Timaru Herald reported the following day, "The Richard Pearse Airport turned on a stormy welcome for the first of the Air Nelson flights between Christchurch and Timaru yesterday afternoon. Winds gusting to over 50 knots made the landing of the Cessna 402 twin-engined aircraft a bit bumpy, but not dangerous, for pilot Peter Walding, of Nelson. Mr Walding said several years experience in "windy" Wellington meant the conditions at Levels, though unexpected, were well within his experience. The Cessna had been hired by Air Nelson from Associated Air as the plane which was to do the run, a 19-passenger Metroliner III, had not been cleared by the 'Ministry of Transport civil aviation division. Only one passenger took the Christchurch to Timaru flight but four people waited to catch the flight back to Christchurch, all of whom were connecting with other Air New Zealand schedules."

Associated Air aircraft continued to be chartered by Air Nelson until the Metroliners came into service and they were often used as backups for the Piper Navajo and Chieftain fleet.

Cessna 402B ZK-DSB at Westport on an Air Nelson service on 23 January 1990. Photo : S Lowe

22 May 2010

PDF Timetables - A great way to advertise an air service and preserve a company's history


Congratulations to Soundsair which is the latest airline to put a smart looking PDF version of their timetable on their website...

http://www.soundsair.com/pdf/Sounds-Air-Timetables.pdf

For an airline enthusiast/historian the timetables of old were a must have and over the years many have been lifted from the check in counters of airports all over New Zealand. Certainly I have been one of these, but in one of those fits of madness, I had a purge of my things and a number of old ones including Capital Air Services, old Eagle Air, Air Central, Air North and so on went out with the rubbish. Nowdays I am always on the look out for old NZ airline timetables to add to the collection.

Sadly, with the cost of producing a printed timetable and the fact that they change so often many airlines no longer produce them. With the loss of the timetable comes the loss of a valuable resource of not only where and when someone can hope to see a company's aircraft, but also the loss of the historical resource of when services started and ended.

Increasingly however airlines have been putting their timetables on the net. One can ask for timetables on specific routes for a week long period on the Air New Zealand website, but there is no way to download a copy of the whole schedule. (Oh for the days of the full domestic timetable issued two or three times a year).

The most consistent of the regional airlines in putting their timetable on the web is Sunair http://www.sunair.co.nz/. They have been doing for it years... though I lament not saving some of the earlier additions. The only problem with Sunair's schedules is that it often bears no resemblence to what flies... they are just so flexible in suiting timetables to customer needs and making best use of their aircraft.

Salt Air http://www.saltair.co.nz/tt_winter.pdf and Golden Bay Air http://www.goldenbayair.co.nz/ always have niceley presented PDF files of their timetables, though Golden Bay Air don't fly through the winter and their new timetable is not expected to be on line until June.

Looking at the other NZ regional operators...

Air Chathams timetable is very simple to find but it is not in an easy format to download and save a copy... http://www.airchathams.co.nz/

Air Discovery's only scheduled service at present is to Motiti Island and the timetable just forms part of the Flight Service section of their website... http://www.airdiscovery.co.nz/tauranga/Flight-Services/motiti-island.html

Air Napier http://www.airnapier.co.nz/services.htm even though it runs a scheduled service between Napier Wairoa and Gisborne doesn't give a timetable.

air2there's timetable is not the easiest to find... It is found under the information tab http://www.air2there.com/Timetable.aspx. It is possible to see the timetable in one screen but again it is not coducive to saving a copy in a good format.

The timetables for Fly My Sky http://www.flymysky.co.nz/timetable-fares/, FlyDirect http://flydirect.co.nz/schedule.htm, Remote Adventures http://remoteadventures.co.nz/02-flights.html (Not operating a schedule over winter) and Stewart Island Flights http://www.southernair.co.nz/sections/theflight/schedule are easy to find on their sites, and a cut and paste saves a reasonable copy.

The most disappointing of all the regional operator is Great Barrier Airlines which doesn't even list a timetable.

Finally, if you are ever tempted to throw out those old timetables, drop me a line at westland831@gmail.com

air2there Increase in Services


In doing the post on timetables (above) I noted air2there have increased their services between Blenheim and Wellington to three a day (only 2 on Saturday) though with one of the southbound flights going via Paraparaumu. They have also added a second flight between Paraparaumu and Nelson each Friday.


air2there's Cessna Grand Caravan ZK-MYH at Nelson on 17 April 2009. I had just flown on it from Paraparaumu.... a great trip. Photo : S Lowe

20 May 2010

Q300 Emergency Landing at PMR


20 May 2010 - Another emergency declared
In the second emergency to be declared in as many days, airport emergency services were on alert again this afternoon for an Air New Zealand Q300. The crew called for a local 'standby' alert after experiencing electrical problems at around 2:15pm today. Airport operations manager Roy Bodell said the aircraft with 39 passengers onboard landed without further incident and emergency services were able to be stood down quite quickly.

Levy for Stewart Island Flights' Passengers?

There has been debate for some time about departure taxesat various New Zealand airports... It seems the next to have something similar will be Stewart Island. Understandably Stewart Island Flights are not too happy...


27 April 2010 - Stewart Is levy step closer

Source : Dan Hutchinson, http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/3625152/Stewart-Is-levy-step-closer

Stewart Island will have a visitors' levy imposed by the end of the year if a new law is approved. However, one of the two companies expected to collect the levy opposes it. Invercargill MP Eric Roy introduced a member's bill into Parliament on Thursday that would give the Southland District Council the power to charge visitors to Stewart Island. Mr Roy said a fee of about $5 would be charged to each visitor to the island via the ferry service (Stewart Island Experience) or Stewart Island Flights. Stewart Island Flights managing director Raymond Hector said the company was opposed to the idea. He said the company would be expected to administer the scheme and pay the GST on the extra $5 with no reimbursement. The fee will be used to help pay for infrastructure on the island that is used by visitors. The cost of things like toilets, walking tracks and other amenities is currently paid for by fewer than 400 locals. Council chief executive Dave Adamson said there was some leeway in the legislation to use part of the levy to cover the administration costs. He said passing the levy into law was necessary to ensure it was a cost that was added evenly to both transport providers. About 40,000 people visit the island each year and the levy should raise about $160,000, shaving hundreds of dollars off the rates bill of each resident. Residents, property and business owners on the island would be exempt from the charge. The Southland District Council (Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy) Empowering Act 2010 would enable the council to impose fees via contract arrangements with the transport operators. "We have a captive situation here where people either come by boats or aeroplanes," Mr Roy said. He said he had been working with the community on the issue since 1994 and most people supported it. It was not proposed to compensate the transport operators for collecting the levy although they would earn interest off the money before it was due to be passed on.

19 May 2010

Soundsair Tasman Sojourn Explained


Thanks to the comment left on the earlier post the following seems to explain the departure of Soundsair's Caravan ZK-SAA's departure for Australia. Given it seems to be staying NZ registered it looks as if SAA will back after her Aussie holiday

Source : http://afap.org.au/html/s02_article/article_view.asp?id=98&nav_cat_id=127&nav_top_id=73

30 APRIL 2010

C208b

Due to increased demand Kakadu Air Services are looking for an additional C208B/twin driver to assist our growing Darwin base.

Minimum required:

300+hrs C208
1000+hrs Total
Preferred:

C310 and C402 endorsed
Ga8 or 200 series time
MECIR
NZ and Aus Licence
The successful candidate will work closely with our Senior Base Pilot Darwin to establish our Darwin scenic routes. Due to use of ZK registered aircraft the ability to hold or held a NZ CAA and Australian licence would be advantageous. Pay as per award, start mid May.

NZ's Northern Most Airline... Air Kaitaia




In December 2000, Air Kaitaia, a subsidiary of Mountain Air, commenced a six month trial of a Monday to Friday air service between Kaitaia and Auckland using a Piper Aztec. Two flights were offered each day, leaving Auckland at 5.00am and 4.30pm. The return services left Kaitaia at 7.00am and 6.00pm. In June 2001 the NZ Herald noted that the trial of the service had been extended. The report also noted that a larger Britten-Norman Islander was used when demand warranted and, because of the lack of runway lights at Kaitaia, the arrival or the morning flight in Kaitaia had to be delayed until after dawn. The service was not a great success, however, and in October 2003 the company conceded defeat. The managing director, Keith McKenzie told the NZ Herald the service “was never enough to pay the bills. The company had persisted for as long as it was able to, but maintaining the service, even after reducing it from five days a week to two, became too much of a financial burden. With losses into six figures, and no sign of improvement on the horizon, the decision to pull the plug had been taken, albeit with real reluctance.”






Piper Aztec ZK-PIW with Air Kaitaia's markings at Auckland on 30 November 2000

18 May 2010

Soundsair Tasman Sojourn


Noted going through Auckland today was Soundsair's C208 Grand Caravan ZK-SAA which headed off to Norfolk and Lord Howe. Tomorrow it is apparently going to Coolangatta. I wonder what it is up to? Any theories or inside knowledge out there?

Sunair's Version of the Napier Incident

The NZ Herald carried a far different story to what the Hawkes Bay Today newspaper reported... this article has the Sunair version...
Source : http://www.hawkesbaytoday.co.nz/local/news/lead-story-plane-nose-dives-in-hb/3914275/

A standard training flight turned into a runway drama at Hawke's Bay Airport last night when a "misunderstanding" between a senior commercial pilot and a trainee saw their Piper Aztec aircraft go nose down. The aircraft, operated by Tauranga-based Sunair Aviation, was on a night-training programme with just the two pilots aboard. Today, the airline's chief executive officer, Dan Power, said early reports it was a passenger flight with one passenger aboard were incorrect. The senior pilot is understood to be Napier-based, while the trainee was from Hamilton. Mr Power said the night flight had been going well and there had been no technical problems before the "bit of a mishap". He described it as "a misunderstanding between the two pilots" which led to a mishandling of the front-nose wheel. The twin-engined aircraft was landing just before 9pm when the incident happened. Mr Power said the pilots had reacted quickly to bring the aircraft to a halt and were uninjured. Emergency services raced to the airport and closed the stretch of runway. The aircraft was checked for leaking fuel and fluids and found to be all clear. It was removed by Flightcare engineers last night and was being assessed at their workshop this morning. Mr Power described the damage as minor and expected the aircraft to be out of action for two to three weeks. He said Sunair operated nine of the twin-engined aircraft so scheduled passenger services would not be affected by the incident. The pilots were scheduled to meet with company officials for a debriefing today. The police had referred the incident to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Sunair Ouch!



Source : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10645722

Three people escaped injury last night after the nose wheel on this small plane failed to come down - forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing at Hawkes Bay Airport. Emergency services responded just after 9pm to calls saying a plane had crashed. However, when police, fire and ambulance staff arrived, they found that no one had been injured. A man who saw the plane minutes before the crash-landing said it appeared the front wheel had collapsed. "The aircraft kept circling for a long time, so it looked like something was going to happen." A fire crew remained at the scene for about two hours as a safety precaution. Police spokesman Inspector Paul Jermy said the incident "certainly would have been frightening" for the people on board the plane.

Bird Strike at NPL

14 May 2009

Source : http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/3695893/Birdstrike-brings-plane-to-stop

An Air New Zealand plane leaving New Plymouth airport had to abort the flight after hitting birds as it set to take off yesterday. The Auckland-bound plane hit the birds while powering down the runway just before 7am. "We were told a truck was going to get rid of the birds, but then when we went down the runway we felt the plane power down and the plane came to a halt," passenger Phil Pearson said. "Then my wife noticed the dead birds on the runway and we figured out what happened." After hitting the birds, thought to be a flock of gulls, the plane was then grounded for most of the morning while an aircraft engineer inspected it for damage. Passengers had to either find alternative flights, or wait for the plane to be fixed if they could not sort something out. Mr Pearson could not find a new flight in time so missed his connecting plane to Sydney. "It's a bit frustrating, I'm supposed to be at work today," he said. "But we weren't quick enough up to the counter." Other passengers were worse off, however, as some had missed connecting flights with other airlines and could not get refunds, Mr Pearson said. "Some of them could lose a lot of money from this." An Air New Zealand spokesman said bird strike was a very rare event, but one that meant the plane had to be checked extensively. The birds could have damaged the body or the propellers, he said. Dead birds had been cleared off the runway immediately. It was thought only three or four birds had been killed in the accident.

17 May 2010

Widgeons - Their Service to Stewart Island




Following on the piece about Southern Air, for those interested in Widegons and the air service to Stewart Island a nice piece can be found in the June 2006 of the Stewart Island News...







16 May 2010

NZ's Southern Most Airline: Part 3 - Southern Air 1991-2000

This is the 3rd part of a four part series on New Zealand's southern most airline. The first part was on Stewart Island Air Services (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/04/nzs-southern-most-airline-pt-1-stewart.html) and the second part was on Southern Air up to 1990 (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/nzs-southern-most-airline-part-2.html).

In 1991 fleet replacements saw two Islanders ZK-FXE and ZK-FWZ being sourced from New Caledonia to replace ZK-FFL and ZK-FGR which were withdrawn from use.

Reflecting its previous New Caledonian owner, Air Moorea, ZK-FWZ, is seen at Invercargill on 2 July 1993. Photo : S Lowe

The Islander was, as it still is, the perfect aircraft for the Stewart Island run along with being versatile enough for other uses. In 1991, Barry Rhodes, Southern Air's sales and promotions manager told NZ Wings, "The Islander is just what's required. It's economical and versatile, and we can take the seats out and convert it for freight within a few minutes. Perhaps 10 percent of revenue comes from Stewart Islanders, another eight percent tradesmen and business people with the remainder being tourists, both domestic and international, and freight. We carry anything and everything." While the Stewart Island schedule was the mainstay of the operation the Islanders were also to be found on beaches picking up or dropping off fishermen, hunters, or trampers, on air ambulance flights to Taieri, Christchurch, or even Auckland, as well as servicing the lighthouse at Dog Island. The early 1990s saw the start of fish and live crayfish flights starting from the Island. To facilitate this an IFR approach was established for flights into Stewart Island.

BN Islander ZK-FGR on an air ambulance flight to Taieri, 27 September 1991. Photo : S Lowe



The early 1990s saw Southern Air buy the Post Office/depot to serve as a terminal for the waiting passengers. Southern Air bought its own vans to collect and drop passengers at Ryans Creek. Southern Air also bought the South Seas Hotel.


The Depot after its purchase in 1995 : Photo J Kean Collection


The 1992 Southern Air team... Barry Rhodes, Annie Stinger, Philip Kean, Anne Rowley, Keith Smith, Kerry Smith, Michelle, Tony Stewart, Robin Andrews and Murray Donald

The 1996 team - Steve Philips, Robin Andrews, Craig Miller, Jeff Slater, Nathan Helms, Philip Kean, Bill Moffat

In 1997 Southern Air was bought by Allan Aitcheson, and the company was renamed Southern Air (1997) Ltd, the third incarnation of the operation. At this stage the company used two Islanders, ZK-FXE and ZK-FWZ as well as a Cessna 172P, ZK-DNP, and a Cessna 177RG, ZK-DXS.

Cessna 172 ZK-DNP (above) at Ryans Creek and Cessna 177RG ZK-DXS at Dougboy with long time manager of Southern Air, Phil Kean. Both Photos : J Kean Collection


Southern Air restarted flights between Invercargill and Dunedin in 1997. Above, BN Islander ZK-FXE advertises the new service at Invercargill on 4 January 1997. Photo : B Kerr Collection. Below, newly painted but without titles ZK-FXE on the service at Dunedin on 15 September 1997. Photo : S Lowe


Cessna 402 ZK-VAC was registered to Southern Air on 2 April 1998 for the scheduled flights between Invercargill and Dunedin that had restarted in 1997. It was also to be used for air ambulance work, the company having gained air ambulance accreditation from the Aviation Industry Association and also. The aircraft was also modified with a Robertson short-takeoff and landing STOL kit so it could also operate into Ryans Creek. The Dunedin service once again did not prosper and was discontinued in July 1998. It was decided to keep the Cessna 402 and use it to supplement the Islander to Stewart Island when needed. Sadly, this aircraft was to be at the centre of Southern Air’s blackest day.

On the 19th of August 1998 ZK-VAC had a double engine failure on a flight from Stewart Island to Invercargill. A mayday call was made just before five o'clock that evening. The pilot, Robin Andrews, successfully managed to ditch the plane in Foveaux Strait 2.5 nm west of Bluff and he and the nine passengers successfully escaped the aircraft. The aircraft stayed afloat for some minutes after the landing. The pilot, realising that he and three passengers did not have life jackets entered the aircraft to find some to no avail. Due to some confusion as to the exact crash site, it took over an hour for rescuers to reach the spot and in that time five people, including the pilot, died from hypothermia in the wintery cold waters of Foveaux Strait. The aircraft was recovered and while the accident report suggested the cause may have been fuel exhaustion no conclusive cause was ever established.

The Southern Air fleet in 1998 including the ill-fated Cessna 402, ZK-VAC. It was repainted subsequent to this photo into full Southern Air colours but I have never seen a colout photo of this. Photo : J Kean Collection

Despite this tragic setback the company continued as it still does today in its fourth incarnation “Stewart Island Flights.” A big thanks to Jordan Kean for his help on this piece and for the great photos from his collection... One of the dangers of posting a piece like this is making mistakes or having omissions. For historical accuracy could you please write a comment or e-mail me (westland831@gmail.com) with any errors or omissions.

The final and briefest instalment of this series will be on Stewart Island Flights. don't know a lot about this company. If you are able to help with details please email me at the address above.

A beach pick up at Colac Bay sometime around 2000. Photo : J Kean Collection