The first two Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighters to be permanently based in Australia have finally arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown, touching down earlier today.
The aircraft are the ninth and tenth jets to be delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The first eight are currently flying with the U.S. Air Force’s 61st Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base Arizona, as part of the international F-35 training school. The RAAF has 72 F-35As on order and it has a further 28 aircraft options. The two aircraft had been delivered to the RAAF at Luke in September and October respectively, and were delivered to Williamtown via Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii and RAAF Base Amberley, south-east of Brisbane.
The pair were flown by the commanding officer of No. 3 Squadron, Wing Commander Darren Clare and Squadron Leader Red Borrman, and they conducted a flypast of the surrounding Newcastle and Shoal Bay area, accompanied by four F-18 Hornets. No. 3 Squadron is the first Australian F-35 squadron.
VIDEO: A look at the RAAF F-35's conducting a flypast along the New South Wales Hunter Coast in December 2018. Credit: RAAF
KC-135's '62-3518' and '64-14837', which are from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 72nd Air Refueling Squadron, 434th Air Refueling Wing, based at Grissom Air Reserve Base in Indiana arrived in Sydney earlier in this week from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Arriving as LULU23 and LULU24 respectively, they were the first of the aforementioned type to touch down on NSW soil, in just under 9 years. However, the welcomed visit didn't go according to plan.
One of the KC-135R's were damaged on Tuesday during a ground-handling incident. A tug, under operation by Qantas, was pushing the KC-135R aircraft from its parking bay, when one of the tanker’s nose landing gear doors was damaged by the tug. According to a source familiar with the incident, the incident fractured the KC-135R’s rear nose landing gear door, and thus, its planned mission has now been canceled.
The second KC-135R, which had earlier been pushed back in preparation for takeoff, was also subsequently towed back by a replacement tug.
Their role was to provide tanker support for a pair of B-52 bombers, of call signs ADIOS01 and ADIOS02, which were conducting a Global Strike Command mission along Australia’s Eastern coastline on the same day as the incident.
While the damage to the KC-135R did not appear to be serious, its inability to take off to support the B-52s meant the bombers had to amend their initial plan to directly return to Guam after their training mission. The bombers instead diverted to Darwin.
After his week long visit in the US and his new found bromanship with President Trump came to an end President Emmanuel Macron of France jetted off to Sydney for a bilateral visit to Australia. The French brought with them a large delegation of people and aircraft. First of which was A340-200 F-RAJB Which arrived from Singapore via New Caledonia. It arrived on the 30th April shortly after 9:30pm touching down on Runway 16R as CTM21 and Taxiing via Golf to the GA area. The following evening President Macron arrived from Singapore on Airbus A330-200 F-RARF as CTM1. This was followed some 30 minutes later by Falcon 7X F-RAFA as CTM5. President Macron spent 3 days in Sydney talking with Prime Minister Turnbull and visiting landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. The French contingency departed on the 3rd of May starting with the A330 F-RARF as CTM1 followed closely by F-FAFA as CTM5. Finally A340-200 F-RAJB Departed Taxiing on Golf around 30 minutes after CTM 1 had departed. President Macrons aircraft opted to depart on the smaller Runway 34R whilst the A340 and F7X departed off 34L
The AESEAN Special Summit was held in Sydney for 2018, which is the first time the leaders have met in Australia. Political leaders from Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand all attended the special summit. Security was increased as the leaders and delegates of the countries arrived in full force with Sydney hosting its largest diplomatic event since APEC in 2007. The first leader to arrive was Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, on the morning of the 16th March, whom was onboard The Kingdom of Cambodia A320 'B-6738'. He was followed by Vietnamese President xxx on a charted Vietnam Airlines 787-9 VNxxx. The next arrival was the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah later that evening who was piloting his new luxury 747-8i BBJ V8-BKH into Sydney. His landing was not a perfect 10/10 however as the aircraft seemingly was too high and approached much of the final approach with a downward flare touching down on Runway 16R well after the Runway 25/07 intersection. Following these arrivals the rest of the leaders arrived later that night which included Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on board A340-500 HS-TYV, Malaysian Prime Minister xxxx on board A319 9M-NAA, Indonesian President Joko Widodo on board 737-800 A-001. The leaders of Myanmar and Singapore also arrived during the course of the day on board private charters. The leaders stayed in Sydney for two nights during which they had diplomatic meetings and attended social events in Sydney. The leaders then departed on Sunday afternoon which concluded the summit
The newest product from Airbus, the A350-1000 prototype demonstrator 'F-WLXV' sporting the Airbus carbon livery touched down in Sydney shortly after 10pm on the 10th February as AIB358 from Bangkok. This new age aircraft, not yet in service is currently touring the world, showcasing its qualities to airlines and potential buyers. Airbus is especially reaching out to Qantas who has set a challenge to major manufactures Airbus and Boeing to design an aircraft with a range long enough to be able to fly from the east coast of Australia to London direct as well as from the east coast of Australia to New York. Airbus believes the A350-1000 can be the aircraft to perform this historical flight with a number of minor modification's and seating arrangements. The A350 was parked at the Qantas Jetbase on Monday 12th February where it gave a select few Qantas staff the opportunity to see the aircraft up close and tour the flight deck. It then departed at noon for a short demonstrator flight where it performed a flyover of Sydney Harbour before returning back to Sydney Airport. The A350-1000 F-WLXV later taxied out and departed for Auckland as AIB359 continuing its world tour.
After almost 2 years since the A350 debuted with Qatar Airways, Sydney have finally had their first commercial service with China Airlines touching down on Runway 34L with A350-900 B-18909 operating as CAL55 from Taipai. This is not the first visit of the A350 with the demonstrator aircraft visiting during the A350 world tour in 2014 and most recently this year with Singapore Airlines diverting from Melbourne due to storms. The long range medium sized widebody is the Boeing 787s main competition with airlines moving away from the supersized aircraft such as the 747 and A380 as these twin engine airliners have ETOPS certification allowing them to travel large distances across oceans on only two engines. The Airbus A350-900 replaces the similar sized Airbus A330-300 on China Airlines twice daily flights from Taipai. China Airlines is not set to be the only A350 operator in Sydney as Thai Airways are expected to be replacing their 747s with A350s on the Sydney routes from as early as 2019.
UPS have swapped their aging MD-11F's with a mix of 747 freighter aircraft in Sydney including the new 747-8F. The news is sad for tri hole lovers with UPS being 1 of only 10 operators worldwide who still fly these classic freighters. The move leaves FedEx as the only operator of the MD-11 to Sydney and Australia. The UPS 747 fleet currently consists of 3 new age 747-8Fs and 13 747-400Fs in which two of are ex passenger variants that have been converted for freight usage. UPS is not a new operator of the 747 to Sydney, having previously flown the classic 747-100Fs and -200Fs to Sydney up until 2004, where the older 747s were phased out.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier touched down into Sydney from Perth aboard German Air Force A340-300 16+01 on the 4th November. A430-300 16+01 touched down on Runway 16R just before 6pm and taxied via Golf to the general aviation area where he and his wife were escorted by motorcade. His visit to the states capital was short lived however as he departed to Wellington the following day, less than 24 hours after arriving in Sydney. Due to the size of the Runway at Wellington, Luftwaffe A340-300 16+01 was forced to ferry to Auckland whilst Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender traveled to Wellington aboard a Virgin Australia 737.
Qantas have taken delivery of their first 787-9 Dreamliner appropriately named 'Great Southern Land' with registration VH-ZNA. Flight QF7879 Arrived this morning on Runway 16L at Sydney airport just before 7am after a low level flyover the Sydney CBD. 'Great Southern Land' then made its way to Hangar 96 where it was received a water cannon salute thanks to Airservices Australia and was greeted by Qantas staff and media in what celebrates the first new Boeing widebody delivery since the 747 for Qantas. VH-ZNA is scheduled to operate domestic services between now and December until Qantas takes delivery of its second Dreamliner, and begins international services to LA from Melbourne.
President of Niger Issoufou Mahamadou made an historic visit to Sydney and Australia marking the first visit from a President of Niger to Australia. During his Australian visit, President Mahamadou visited Perth and Canberra before touching down in Sydney on 13th October. As well as being the first President of Niger to visit Australia, Mahamadou is the first African leader to visit Australia since President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma visited Brisbane during the G20 leaders summit in 2014. President Mahamadou traveled on Boeing 737-700BBJ 5U-GRN named "Mont Greboun" after Niger's largest mountain. President Mahamadou departed Sydney two days later.
All supplies of aviation fuel to Auckland Airport have been cut off, after a digger trying to extract kauri tree logs cut an oil pipeline on Thursday. The pipe, which provides Jet A1 to the Airport has since cancelled over 30 International and Domestic flights with more to come. Airlines have been advised to bring extra reserve fuel, in order so they can refuel at other airports. To kick off the diversions into Sydney as a result of the burst pipe was Air China's B-5191, a 787-9 which is a first visit to the country, for the aircraft operated by CA. We can expect to see other diversions over the next 10-14 days whilst they are working on restoring the fuel supply.
United States Air Force recently deployed C-5M Super Galaxy 87-0032 to Rockhampton to pick up some military vessels from Exercise Talisman Saber. The C-5 however experienced some Hydraulic issues with the front nose gear which forced it to ferry down to RAAF Base Richmond where it will await parts from the weekly USAF C-17 flight. The C-5 is expected to stay in Richmond for most of this week and head back up to Rockhampton before continuing on to Travis Air Base in the United States. It has been almost 6 years since the last C-5 Galaxy was in Richmond. The last being USAF C-5B 87-0034 which arrived in November of 2011.
Korean Air have become to first operators to showcase the newer stretched version of the Boeing 747 in Sydney and Australia. KE121 touched down on Runway 34L a little after 6am and departed roughly 2 and half hours later. HL7642 had the honors of the inaugural service which will operate daily up until October 25 where the 747-8i will be replaced with the Airbus A380 which has been operating seasonal services to Sydney the last 2 years in replacement of the older 747-400. This however is not the first visit of the newer 747-8, Cathay Pacific Cargo have been operating regular twice weekly freight runs into Sydney with the slightly smaller 747-8F since 2012 with freight charters from Atlas Air and Polar Air also operating one off services of the 747-8F. The 747-8 Intercontinental is the worlds longest airliner stretching to 76 meters long and was Boeings responce to the Airbus A380 'Superjumbo' which surpassed the 747 as the biggest airliner in the sky. Korean Air have recently taken delivery of what could be the final 747-8i with the US Air Force still expected to take delivery of two 747-8i set to be the replacements of Air Force One.
After being denied a water salute, VH-OJM 'City of Gosford' made her final departure from Australia today, heading off to San Francisco as QF73. Before being ferried to Mojave, otherwise known as the 'Airplane Graveyard', where she will most likely be scrapped, or put into long term storage before she finds another owner. She has been in service for Qantas for 26 Years, and before her departure today, OJM had logged 117,310 hours and had recorded 13,753 landings, a record and a milestone for a Qantas aircraft. Farewell VH-OJM, Queen of the Skies, you will be missed.
Honeywell's “Power of Connected” world tour has touched down in Canberra from Melbourne as apart of the Australian leg of the journey, "The Connected Aircraft" flew and tested the capabilities of Honeywell’s in flight internet hardware; JetWave, which is based on the Inmarsat Global Xpress network, the two test Australian flights took focus on the Bass Strait, Victorian Peninsula and crossed into the NSW & the ACT. N757HW is also utilising several never seen before state of the art on board technologies, namely consisting of; "Go Direct Maintenance", which allows pilots to monitor any issues with the aircraft and to ensure that ground time can be minimised before the aircraft is forced to be go for extended maintenance. "Connected Radar" receives and collects radar and weather data from on board radar systems enabling pilots to avoid weather patterns and redirect their flight courses accordingly. "Go Direct Flight Preview" enables pilots to receive a highly accurate 3D representation of runways and terrain around them increasing understanding of the route course. Finally "Aspire 300" delivers the latest technology to the cockpit, with extended and improved safety and voice services to improve overall safety.
4 United States Air Force C-17As arrived at RAAF Base Richmond on Thursday 13th July. The Globemasters departing from Alaska dropped over 300 paratroopers at Shoalwater Bay training area participating in exercise Tailsman Saber (see Exercise Talisman Saber kicks off ). The C-17s then tracked south and arrived at RAAF Base Richmond shortly after 1:10pm. The first two C-17s 10-0214 and 07-7181 were both based at Charleston Air Force Base touching down on Runway 10 closely followed by 08-9187 and 08-9182 which are both C-17s based at McChord Air Force Base. All four C-17s departed Richmond 15th July and headed North up the east coast of Australia conducting low fly by's in Queensland before eventually turning back and returning to Richmond.
Exercise Talisman Sabre has kicked off in Australia, and is the premier Australia‑United States bilateral exercise. Over 33,000 military personnel will participate in the bilateral military exercise between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the United States Military. The exercise, which is centered on mid-intensity, high-end warfighting, will consist of force preparation activities, special forces activities, amphibious landings, parachuting, land force manoeuvres, urban operations, air operations, maritime operations and live firing. Sydney saw the commencement of the exercise with four MV-22B Osprey Helicopters landing into Sydney, picking up media and VIP's from USS Bonhomme Richard, a 257m Wasp Class Amphibious Assault Ship, for the official commencement. The whole exercise is set to feature 21 ships, and more than 200 Joint Aircraft.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defence James Mattis touched down in Sydney at 1930 on the Fourth of June, to participate in the 2017 Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations hosted by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne. Tillerson, Mattis and their counterparts will discuss the full range of U.S-Australian cooperation on bilateral, regional, and global issues, including anti-terrorism talks. Five Aircraft were used in the convoy which arrived from Singapore, including 74-0787 USAF E-4B, 09-9205 USAF C-17, 98-0002 USAF C-32, 01-0041 USAF C-40 and 01-0015 USAF C-40. 74-0787 E-4B and 09-9205 C-17 left Sydney at 2200 on the Fifth of June, back to the U.S. Meanwhile, both the C-40's left on the Sixth of June carrying the Secretary of State and Defence to Wellington, continuing talks with New Zealand officials.
Sydney Airport kindly hosted an airside tour on Saturday 30th April. Tickets started at $100 per person with all sales going directly to NSW Kids in Need Foundation, a charity that supports over 100 different organisations which help make a difference to children in need across NSW. The tour began at 11:30am where all participants were given a mock boarding pass and voucher kindly gifted from Sydney Airport. Participants boarded 3 airside buses from Gate 47. The buses drove along side taxiway Bravo as it headed north towards the Qantas Jetbase. Here participants were able to see the huge Qantas maintenance hangers up close as well as having a great view of arriving aircraft on 16R. The buses then crossed the main Runway onto the International side which saw a variety of different carriers from a vast amount of locations world wide. The buses then proceeded South along Taxiway Alpha all the way to the end of Runway 34L. After crossing 34L The buses stopped at the Aviation fire station located between the two north south runways. This gave people the opportunity to wander around and take some photos of the nearby taxiing aircraft. As the tour drew to a close Sydney Airport Fire department put on one final treat as they extinguished a burning aircraft during a drill. The tour concluded where it began back at Gate 47. It was an enjoyable experience for all participants and gifted a fantastic airside opportunity whilst being able to support such a fantastic cause.
US Vice President Mike Pence touched down on Australian soil last Sunday 21st April. He arrived aboard USAF C-32A 98-0002 call sign SAM014 wheels down on Runway 34L shortly after 9:30pm. Followed closely was the arrival of C-32A 99-0004 SAM078 which served as Pence's backup aircraft. Pence was welcomed to Sydney by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce who met him upon arrival. Vice President Pence was in Sydney finishing off a 10 day Asia Pacific tour that included such countries as South Korea, Japan and Indonesia. Pence's first day primarily consisted of talks and meetings with Australian leaders and strengthening the ties between the two countries following the Inauguration of US President Donald Trump. Pence however spent his final day in Australia touring Sydney Harbour with his family and visiting the famous Taronga Zoo. Pence departed Monday 24th April on Runway 25 at 8am under the same call sign headed for Hawaii.
The first ever commercial A350 touched down in Sydney on the 8th of April as SQ207 which had diverted from Melbourne due to ongoing heavy thunderstorms. 9V-SMF which is also Airbus' 10,000th aircraft, arrived into Sydney at 1810, later departing back to Melbourne at 1930 continuing the operation of SQ207. A memorable moment, even with the added insult of daylight having come to an end, spotters braved the darkness of the night to capture this rare beauty. One of the best looking airliners in the skies. With no airlines having announced any regular A350 services into Sydney as of yet, we are hopeful that either CX or SQ will announce following on from their respective starts in MEL and BNE.
The final ever scheduled Air New Zealand 767 flight arrived Sydney on Friday afternoon operating as NZ105 and left back to Auckland later that night as NZ108. ZK-NCI had the honour of operating the flight, which is a 22 Year old airframe. They will certainly be missed from the skies of Sydney. Air New Zealand first purchased the 767 in 1985 and the aircraft has since proved its worth serving as the work horse on flights primarily across the Tasman. But after 30 years of service all good things must come to an end. The 767 is sadly being phased out for newer and more efficient airframes which improve payload like the 787 and A330-200 which also provide better passenger amenities and comfort. The 767 was Boeing's first widebody twinjet and is one of their best selling aircraft of all time with over 1000 airframes delivered. Goodbye 767 you will be missed.
Vietnam Airlines today have added an extra service to Australia deploying their 787-9 Dreamliner on flights from Hanoi to Sydney. This is Vietnam Airlines second service to the state capital arriving down under every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday under the very appropriate flight number VN787 departing the Vietnamese capital at 11:55pm and touching down in Sydney the following day at 12:15pm. The reciprocal flight Departs Sydney at 2:15pm as VN786 arriving back into Hanoi at 8:55pm local time.
Oneworld partner Japan Airlines have recently changed their equipment from a 777-300ER to a 787-9 on the Sydney to Narita route. In what is considered an 'upgrade' for passenger comfort, it is certainly a downgrade in passenger numbers. Even though the change is not permanent, JAL have said that they will sub equipment on the route accordingly to passenger numbers, so this could see the 777's back in the Australian Summer. JAL is now the tenth dreamliner operator into Sydney, and they codeshare on their route with Qantas.
Premier of China Li Keqiang arrived in Canberra on 22nd March a few minutes after 11pm. Premier Keqiang was visiting the nations capital amidst talks with Australia's own Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on trade, economics and protectionism. He traveled on specially configured Air China 747-400 B-2447, one of two 747s in the Air China fleet equipped for flying government VIPs. Keqiang arrived in Canberra callsign "Air China 2" and used the same callsign when he departed for Sydney on Friday afternoon. B-2447 was wheels up at 3:10pm and arrived into Sydney on Runway 25, right on 3:45pm. Keqiang was met with a crowd of supporters shortly after he touched down. On Saturday 25th March he attended an AFL Match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Later that day he also met with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian where the pair primarily discussed trade. He departed the following morning at around 11:30am on the 26th March headed to Auckland under the same callsign "Air China 2" He is set to conclude his week long visit in Wellington before jetting off back to Beijing. Air China 737-800 B-1761 was used as a support plane during the Premiers visit transiting Darwin on its way to New Zealand before arriving on Sydney on the 28th March.