Date: Tues, 18 November 2009
Route(s): Brisbane (BNE
) – Canberra (CBR
), Canberra (CBR
) – Sydney (SYD
Airline: Virgin Blue
Aircraft: E-190 and E-170
My appreciation for the cute little E-jets from Brazil increases all the time. Fast, sleek and super comfy, my last few E-170 flights have been great. I can’t get enough of the E-170 and the purpose of my short day trip from Brisbane to the nation’s capital, Canberra, then onto Sydney, and finally back to Brisbane, was to ride both the E-190 (my first) and also E-170 operated by Virgin Blue. This trip report covers the first part of the journey, from Brisbane to Canberra. The second part, which I will post separately, covers the Canberra - Sydney sector.
The day dawned hot, very hot. Although it was only mid November, the weather in South Eastern Australia had been incredibly warm for the time of year. Today was going to be no different. Brisbane was expecting a 35 C day (95 F) with lots of blue sky and sunshine. My much needed short trip to Australia was for a number of reasons, but it also gave me a chance to thaw out, and dry out from the dreadful English autumn weather I left behind in London.
An early rise for my trip to Brisbane domestic Airport (BNE
) meant I was at the airport in good time for my 915am flight to Canberra. In fact, I managed to get about 2 hours spotting time before the boarding call was made. Sunrise at this time of the year is early, so by 7am, the light was incredibly bright, and perfectly good for pics.
Some scenes from BNE
, with Qantas and Virgin Blue aircraft getting ready for their domestic departures. Qantas has a number of B767-300s departing early in the am operating services to Sydney, Perth and I recall one of these at Gate 22, VH
-OGO was heading to Darwin, with a flying time at just over 4 hours, whilst not much for the 767, but long enough for a domestic sector.
-OGO being prepared for service to Darwin
View of the Qantas domestic gates
One of the remaining QF
fleet of classic 737s being prepared for its next service at 7am, local time.
One of the newer Qantaslink Dash 8 400s, VH
-QOT, arriving from a destination in regional Queensland.
Some action over at the Virgin Blue gates.
-ZPI ready for another domestic hop.
A couple of BNE
departures from Runway01
-VQJ of Jetstar launches into the Brisbane sky
A few international arrivals also making their presence known at this time of the morning.
Nice to see ZK
-NCJ now with winglets
After roaming up and down the concourse, I plonked myself down for a coffee and breakfast at one of the numerous café places. This one had a view overlooking my gate, so I stayed there for a bit, eagerly awaiting the arrival of my E-190 which would operate DJ1212 to Canberra. Just over 40 mins before the scheduled departure time of 915am, my little E-jet turned up from Rockhampton and parked at Gate 40.
"Jilla Blue" would be operating the flight to Canberra.
We were called for boarding not long after, and although it looked to be a fairly full flight, I was lucky to have the seat next to me vacant for the 1.5 flight south. Some views from the nice big window. First impressions were good. Consistent with all my other E-170 experiences, the cabin interior was immaculate, spacious and comfortable. Seat pitch was also good. Embraer has certainly created an incredibly spacious interior. The E-190 is noticably larger on the outside, but it felt pretty much the same as the E-170 inside - a bit like being on any of the Airbus narrowbodies I suppose - you can't really tell that much from the inside.
Doors were closed and we pushed back from the gate on time. The safety instruction was then given by the 3 cabin crew, all of whom looked great and were friendly and relaxed – just what you would expect from Virgin Blue (I have flown with them from the first month they started operations in 2000). I had a quick peek at the inflight magazine whilst waiting to push back, which was celebrating 100 editions of “Voyeur”. Well done Virgin Blue!
Departures today from BNE
were off Runway 01. This meant a nice taxi down toward the International Terminal. Although I was on the wrong side of the aircraft to see anything at the IT
, we were 3rd in line for departure – behind another Virgin Blue aircraft and a Qantas 737-800. A short hold as a China Airlines A330-300 arrived from Taipei, and it was our turn to depart.
Our turn - ready to go !
Passing the GA
freight apron - only a few aircraft on the ground that morning.
Our departure and climb out was smooth and I had some great views as we left Brisbane behind, climbing out over Moreton Bay, and then banking to the right for a gradual turn and then a more southerly heading.
Passing over the cross runway at BNE
Passing over the south eastern suburbs of Brisbane with Stradbroke Island in the distance
Meal service onboard consisted of the usual BOB – here is the cover. Great to see DJ
are promoting the aircraft type. I did not buy anything, having stuffed my face earlier in the morning.
Our routing today was unclear as we hit clouds some 20 mins into the flight. Our flight time down to Canberra was scheduled for 1 hour 30 mins, which I guess took us mostly inland over South Eastern Australia, although about 40 mins out of CBR
, I was surprised to see the coastline! I wondered whether we had been routed outside of the Sydney area to avoid congestion with arriving and departing aircraft from that airport, but soon enough we were heading back inland.
About mid way through the flight, the cockpit crew made a short annoucement welcoming everyone onboard and told us what the weather and conditions were going to be like in Canberra for our arrival. Sunny skies and a high of 26 degrees were forecast. Excellent!
Some descent pictures into CBR
. The landscape was looking very dry in parts, not uncommon at this time of the year. Not much in the way of urbanisation down there. It's pretty much all farm land with the odd small town. I love looking out of the window at the landscapes in Australia. It's such an incredibly diverse, ancient land.
Touchdown into Canberra was smooth and after rolling off the end of the runway, a short backtrack to the gate, and the trip was over.
Welcome to Canberra - where there's lots of airport construction going on to improve the existing terminal facilities. The captain was right - it was a glorious day in Canberra.
I was in Canberra for a couple of hours before heading to Sydney. Canberra has become quite a hub for the E-jets of Virgin Blue. When I was there, I counted 3 or maybe 4 E-jets coming and going. I also managed to get some pics of "Jilla Blue" pushing back and heading back up to Brisbane.
Of course you could not be Australia's capital city without seeing at least one Qantas aircraft! Here is a delayed B737-400 flight inbound from Melbourne.
This is where Part 1 ends. My positive feelings about the E-jets were only cemented after this experience. The flight was excellent in every respect. Virgin have really done well to incorporate these jets into their fleet. I wish them continued success. My next flight, on "Little Miss Sunshine Coast" to Sydney will feature in Part 2. Hope you enjoyed the report. Any comments are of course welcome.