South Australia FIFO boosted

AIR South has expanded its charter fleet and pilot numbers to boost the fly-in, fly-out services to South Australia’s Cooper-Eromanga Basin, one of Australia’s most productive onshore oil provinces and mining centres.

Anthony Barich

A newly acquired Embraer Brasilia 120 arrived at the company’s Adelaide Airport terminal this week and a second aircraft will be delivered early next year.

South Australian-owned AE Charter Services, which operates Air South and its sister charter operator, Rossair, have added seven operating staff to take the total pilot and cabin crew complement to 23.

The Embraer Brasilia 120 is a 30-seater aircraft and will be among the largest aircraft of its type available for charter based at the airport, with the aircraft type used extensively globally by major operators including Skywest, which currently operates 44 of the type throughout the US.

A twin-prop, the Embraer Brasilia can up to 100km/h faster than any other similar aircraft, such as the SAAB 340 currently used for regular regional passenger transport in Australia by other airlines.

It is also ideally suited to service regional airports such as Coober Pedy, Whyalla, Moomba, Kingscote, Port Lincoln, Alice Springs, Broken Hill and even further afield.

With a maximum flying range fully laden of 800km, the new acquisitions are capable of flying routes from Adelaide into eastern WA, the Northern Territory, far west Queensland, western NSW and well into regional Victoria.

With the acquisition of the two Embraer Brasilias, Air South and Rossair Charter – already the only South Australian air charter operators owning and operating aircraft with more than 10-seat capacity – will have the largest fleet of charter aircraft in South Australia, with a total of 12 aircraft available for charter from 2015.

The combined and expanded fleet of aircraft consists of five Cessna 441 Conquests (9-seater), three Beechcraft 1900D (19-seater), a Beechcraft King Air (9-seater) and a Cessna 404 Titan (freight specific), and when in service, the two 30-seat Embraer Brasilias.

Rossair Charter and Air South regularly fly from Adelaide to most SA regional centres as well as more difficult to reach locations across the outback, and in particular, the oil and gas-rich production and exploration footprints of the Cooper-Eromanga Basin.

The new Air South aircraft will be piloted by a captain and a first officer, and the crew will include a cabin attendant.

It is the only aircraft of its size to feature an auxiliary power unit (APU) able to deliver on-board air conditioning while stationary on the tarmac or taxiing, giving comfort to passengers in areas that face extreme temperature variations.

South Australia’s Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the two new aircraft would enable more fly-in, fly-out services to the state’s Cooper-Eromanga basins and mining centres.

The nine-seater Cessna Conquest and King Air are able to fly into more remote locations such as Butlers and Innamincka, with gravel airstrips and shorter runways, getting FIFO personnel closer to mine sites without incurring extra travel time from some of the larger sealed airstrips further from the mine.

The 600km/h Beechcraft 1900D is bigger, seating up to 19 passengers and requires two crew, enabling organisations to move larger numbers of personnel into and out of remote locations .

These aircraft are able to fly into Ballera and Moomba with flying times comparable to large jetliners over short journeys.

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