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WearyDrover
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Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Wed Sep 16, 2015 6:52 am

Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2



I had arrived in Ravensthorpe flying with Virgin Australia Regional. The route had been via Esperance on board a Fokker 50. I am indebted to my sister and brother-in-law for their kind permission to include some photos that they took as the aircraft approached and landed.




Airside view of the terminal which is basically a colorbond shed with some internal dividers for check-in, security and departure.




The incoming aircraft, VH-FND ”Shire of Shark Bay” banking to align with runway 06.




Lining up with the runway. East Mount Barren can be seen in the background.




Puffs of smoke as the wheels hit the tarmac.




Taxiing towards the terminal having landed ahead of schedule.








The cabin door is opened and the steps lowered for the CSO to alight, followed by the passengers.




Ravensthorpe hosts a wildflower and arts show each September and I happened to be down halfway through. The area has many species that are unique and the town has the largest herbarium outside of Perth.





My sister had made some “wildflowers” from bits of old farming equipment, cutting them to shape, welding together and applying several layers of primer and paint.





There was a display of quilt work by local residents.




A Vintage and Classical car show was also included. There were some old Fords, Chevrolet and a Morris Cowley on display. There were a number of newer models including a Buick Eight but I haven’t uploaded all photos taken.








Finally, some views of the town, including the post office run by my niece, the shire offices and the Palace Hotel.





For the return flight, once more I followed the suggestion to use mobile check-in. Soon enough the mobile boarding pass was ready, with seat 04G being allocated. In the morning my sister and brother-in-law would be taking me to the airport, along with an elderly neighbour who was about to go on holiday interstate.


A man may learn wisdom even from a foe - Aristophanes
 
WearyDrover
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Wed Sep 16, 2015 6:54 am

The only regular flights to/ from Ravensthorpe are operated by Virgin Australia Regional. The flight path is PER-EPR-RVT-PER and runs on Monday and Thursday mornings. The airport is located on Jerdacuttup Road and is equipped to service both commercial and recreational aircraft. It has two strips - 09/24 which is sealed and 14/32 which is gravel.



But of course Ravensthorpe Airport is not equipped to use new-fangled technology. On arrival at the airport it was necessary to obtain a printed boarding pass and this time I was allocated 04F. It seems at Esperance they clear all pre-assigned seats and reallocate them. Perhaps this helps to speed boarding in Ravensthorpe. Perhaps they want to rearrange passengers based on loadings. Noticing that the seat has changed, I queried it and the friendly check-in agent offered to change it for a window seat in another row. I received a new boarding pass with seat 06G assigned.




Oddly, the elderly neighbour travelling on the same flight was able to retain her pre-assigned seat, 05B. Perhaps because it was an aisle seat.


There was no rush to go through security with just three passengers joining the flight. Staff were present but access was still cordoned off. Besides, there was absolutely nothing to attract passengers to go airside: neither shops nor views. Landslide there is a coffee making machine but you need to get a pod from the counter in exchange for three dollars. Alternatively, bottled water is available for two dollars.



The incoming flight touched down and made its way to the stand. Now the cordon was removed and we could proceed through the scanner. No need to remove the tablet from the bag but liquids were required to be placed in a separate tray. Passengers were also required to undergo the explosives test. Meanwhile a number of passengers left the aircraft, ending their journey in Ravensthorpe. All photos of the activity on the apron were taken by my sister and brother-in-law who gave permission to include them in this report.





In the departures lounge there are some plastic seats, arranged like in s doctor’s surgery. The “jet bridge” is a covered walkway, enclosed by Colorbond sheeting and a two-part metal gate. Access is through a glass door. Our friendly check-in staff came to open it and reminded everybody (all three of us) to have our boarding passes ready.



Once checked we could walk across the apron to the waiting aircraft. The elderly neighbour was helped to the plane, guided up the steps and taken to her seat. Instead of being put in 05B, she was offered a seat two rows further back where no-one was sitting. She looked quite happy to end up in 07A, a window seat.






The return flight to Perth was operated by VH-FNB, appropriately named “Shire of Esperance”. First flown on 16 October, 1987 as PH-EXF, this aircraft entered into service with Air N.S.W. It also was previously configured as Y50 before being reconfigured to Y46 in December 1993. On today’s flight, the passenger load was about 32.




In the cabin were Zoe and Debbie, while up front was Capt. Lachlan Farquhar (I think but may have misheard.) The Captain welcomed passengers joining the flight and advised that a flight time of about one hour and twenty minutes was expected. Zoe followed by saying that a snack would be served during the flight. A few moments later the safety briefing was performed.




Final preparations and the door is closed.



The engines started up, first left then right and the aircraft began to move a few minutes before schedule. It taxied out to the runway, turned left and turned about to face Runway 24. The view from inside the aircraft.





The view from the ground.







”Shire of Esperance” picks up speed and moments later lifts into the air. View from the cabin …





… and from the ground.





Soon it is no more than a speck in the sky as it disappears beyond the Barrens Ranges, heading to Perth.




Shortly after take-off and once the seat belt sign had been extinguished, Zoe and Debbie commenced the snack run. This is what I was looking forward to.



Unfortunately, the offerings were identical to those on the outbound flight. This time I chose apple juice without ice to accompany the muesli bar.



The waste was collected and I spent some time looking around the cabin. The aircraft was certainly showing its age. Years of grime were apparent, along with scratches and stains.






The flight was smooth as we flew above the clouds. Every now and again there was a break in the cloud and the country below looked good after recent late rainfall. At 10:30 the Captain advised us that “we will shortly begin our descent into Perth from about twenty thousand feet.”


”The weather is partly cloudy with the slight chance of a shower, otherwise fine and 17° . We expect to have you deboarding about ten minutes early, at eleven o’clock.”





Some light turbulence as the aircraft descended over the Darling Escarpment and through some low clouds. The flight path took us over Midvale, Bellevue and across Kalamunda Road to touch down on Runway 24. A few minutes later the aircraft came to a full stop at the stand from which I had left a few days before.







A friendly farewell from the crew as I helped the elderly neighbour descend the steps. On the apron a wheelchair was waiting to assist and take her to meet her family in the arrivals area. We parted and I made my way to the taxi stand outside the terminal.




Overall impressions? Virgin Australia Regional provided a reasonable service. Both flights departed on time and were able to arrive early. The Captains made clear announcements that were informative. The cabin crew were friendly and welcoming. The in-flight meals will not win awards for excellence but for the sector lengths and time of day are adequate.


Passengers receiving email or SMS reminders to use check-in might as well ignore them as seat allocations are ignored and the regional airports are not equipped to use the technology. Manual boarding passes are still necessary.


The aircraft themselves have seen a lot of use and while they may be safe in flight, they do show signs of wear and a general grubbiness. Cleanliness does not seem to be a priority but the illuminated signs and cabin lights worked, the life vest was where it was meant to be.




Would I fly with Virgin Australia Regional again? Probably not on this route as there is no real time gain when you factor in getting to the airport early, the routing via Esperance and the distance from the town centre. Besides, it’s cheaper to drive. If the price were right, I might consider another route.


My previous trip reports:
Dance In A Wine Glass: The Bumpy Route To Dubai (by WearyDrover Aug 27 2015 in Trip Reports)
A Cabin For One: Emirates Boeing 777 To Hamburg (by WearyDrover Aug 29 2015 in Trip Reports)
Discover The World Of Flying: Hamburg Airport Days (by WearyDrover Aug 29 2015 in Trip Reports)
Departing Hamburg: We Can Bring Out The Good Stuff (by WearyDrover Aug 30 2015 in Trip Reports)
A380 Bar Closed:Cabin Crew Go To Your Seats (by WearyDrover Aug 31 2015 in Trip Reports)
Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 1 (by WearyDrover Sep 14 2015 in Trip Reports)



[Edited 2015-09-16 00:06:30]

[Edited 2015-09-16 00:20:40]
A man may learn wisdom even from a foe - Aristophanes
 
debonair
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:55 am

Nice TR, as always...

Quoting WearyDrover (Thread starter):
The aircraft themselves have seen a lot of use and while they may be safe in flight, they do show signs of wear and a general grubbiness.

True, the F50 cabin in your flyVLM TR looked much better in shape...
 
WearyDrover
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:03 am

Hi debonair.

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. The aircraft are used to the max during the day but still spend enough time on the ground for a little water and soap to be effective. But ...
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allrite
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Thu Sep 17, 2015 3:28 am

Great to read another of your reports from destinations that most (including me) will not have visited. Long time since I flew in a Fokker turboprop! Funny that the car beats it too when you factor everything in. I can't think of too many flights under the auspices of the large carriers where that happens, with the exception perhaps of Sydney to Canberra (perhaps...).
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zkncj
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:59 am

Great read, awesome to see some of VA more out the beaten track routes get featured.

Surely VA could atleast recover the seats on the F50s?
 
WearyDrover
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Sat Sep 19, 2015 12:07 am

Hi allrite.
Thanks for your comments. With regard to the comparison between driving or flying it becomes even more advantageous to drive if more than one traveller is flying. Added to that is the need for transport when you get there. On this particular route, many of the passengers are workers at the minesite and they are picked up by a company bus. Local residents may be eligible for rebates if they are travelling up to Perth for medical appointments or children travelling to and from High School, so that help.

Hi zkncj,
Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. It would be good if the seats were recovered. I am not sure what VA's medium to long term plan is for the F50. As we can see, there isn't any rush on repainting them in VA livery. That said, I do like the Skywest window sunburst livery.

Regards, Weary.

[Edited 2015-09-18 17:09:26]
A man may learn wisdom even from a foe - Aristophanes
 
zkncj
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Sun Sep 20, 2015 6:50 pm

Quoting WearyDrover (Reply 6):
Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. It would be good if the seats were recovered. I am not sure what VA's medium to long term plan is for the F50. As we can see, there isn't any rush on repainting them in VA livery. That said, I do like the Skywest window sunburst livery.

I'd say they must getting towards the end of there time with the VA fleet? aren't most of them build in the late 80s?
 
WearyDrover
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Tue Sep 22, 2015 6:02 am

Quoting zkncj (Reply 7):
I'd say they must getting towards the end of there time with the VA fleet?

Well the talk about town was that not all would be repainted as retirement was planned and they would be replaced by ATRs. Since late last year the number of flights in the south west has been significantly reduced, so I am not sure how urgent VA sees the replacement as being.
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QF175
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:22 am

Quoting WearyDrover (Reply 8):
Well the talk about town was that not all would be repainted as retirement was planned and they would be replaced by ATRs. Since late last year the number of flights in the south west has been significantly reduced, so I am not sure how urgent VA sees the replacement as being.

Thanks for the fantastic trip report WearyDrover.

I have only ever been to Esperance for the day but am really keen to go back, it's one of the many beautiful places in Western Australia and hasn't been overrun with development like some of the seaside towns on the east coast.

I have always enjoyed traveling on the Skywest / VARA Fokker 50s but they are indeed beginning to show their age.

Interestingly VARA today announced that it will cease flying to Esperance and Albany from February 2016 as the airline has decided not to tender for the routes as part of the WA Government subsidised air routes tender. No doubt the likes of Skippers or REX will be jumping at the chance to tender for the routes.

With the cessation of Esperance and Albany flights you have to wonder if this is the beginning of the end for the VARA F50s?

ABC News - Air Transport
 
WearyDrover
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:46 pm

Quoting QF175 (Reply 9):

Hi QF175.
Thanks for reading the report and I'm happy that you liked it. I guess that I am lucky to have flown the route when I did.

The announcement that VA has withdrawn from the tender process is disappointing but unsurprising. Last year that had sought further reductions in service and only the intervention of the State government prevented cutbacks on a larger scale.

It will be interesting to see who, if anyone steps in come February.
A man may learn wisdom even from a foe - Aristophanes
 
luv2fly
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:55 pm

What a great adventure you had! Thanks for sharing.
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WearyDrover
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Thu Oct 01, 2015 12:41 am

Hi luv2fly

Quoting luv2fly (Reply 11):

What a great adventure you had! Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Glad you liked it.
Weary
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VapourTrails
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Mon Oct 05, 2015 9:27 am

Hi, thank you. I loved the wildflower and arts show in addition to your trip report too. I thought the Fokker 50 was an old aircraft to have in a 201# fleet. Also, one of your photos is out of order perhaps, the chips and burger one..   

Cheers. =
 
WearyDrover
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:22 pm

Hi VapourTrails,

Glad that you liked the additional bits about the wildflower and arts show. It is one of the main events in Ravensthorpe, which is located in a scenic area. Nearby is the Fitzgerald River National Park which has been named a world biosphere and is listed as a world heritage area. About three quarters of the shire is still covered by native vegetation so it is a botanist's delight.

Quoting VapourTrails (Reply 13):
Also, one of your photos is out of order perhaps, the chips and burger one..

The burger was lunch a couple of days before, courtesy of Blooz Café in Ravensthorpe. I wouldn't have minded one on the flight but I suspect that I might not have been allowed to take the knife on board.  

[Edited 2015-10-06 05:32:48]
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VapourTrails
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Wed Oct 07, 2015 8:57 am

Hi Weary,

Thanks for the info and response. I will definitely visit Ravensthorpe if or when I am in that area of the country. I want to see the Western Australian wildflowers in some form, at least once!

Yeah, I think the knife gave it away for me, re the Blooz Cafe meal. Then I looked harder at the meal and thought, that is definitely terra firma food! I will give the cafe a look in too if / when I visit! Thanks.  
 
TN486
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:15 am

WD, thanks so much. Reminds very much of the old F27 days out of MEB, sparse terminal space, stairs, etc etc. The photos of the flower, and art show were fantastic, loved the old car and suitable caravan, so many of the visuals you provided were of an age to behold. The quilts show heaps of patience and expertise. I need to go back to PER again, havn't been there since Sep 2011. Mate thanks, it was a pleasure to read, take care, cheers.
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WearyDrover
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RE: Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 2

Wed Nov 11, 2015 2:20 am

Hi John,
Thanks for dropping by and your kind words.

Quoting TN486 (Reply 16):
Reminds very much of the old F27 days out of MEB, s

Ah yes, the days of Mickey Mouse Airlines, as MMA was fondly referred to.

If you do come across to PER, you'll notice quite a few changes since 2011.

All the best,
Weary
A man may learn wisdom even from a foe - Aristophanes

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