Pionair adds second BAe 146QC

Pionair BAe 146QC VH-SAZ

Pionair BAe 146QC VH-SAZ shares the ramp at Bucuresti Baneasa with Aviro Air 146-300 YR-AVR prior to her departure for Australia (Mike Hughes)

Yet another BAe 146 has made its way to Australia, this one a QC convertible freighter variant. Pionair had actually acquired the former Titan Airways 146-200QC G-ZAPK (msn E2148) in November 2013, for its planned Skyforce operation. She had been flown to Bucuresti’s Baneasa Airport pending a C check. As Skyforce struggled to take off, G-ZAPK’s stay at Baneasa proved to be a long one, and at one point she was advertised for sale. With Pionair now operating successfully on behalf of Virgin Australia Cargo, the company eventually decided to bring G-ZAPK to Australia after all, and registered her as VH-SAZ in November 2017 (the registration VH-SJF had been reserved for her, but was not taken up). After flight tests on 18 and 29 January, she departed Baneasa on 1 February, still wearing her Titan colors. The aches resulting from prolonged storage had evidently not all been worked out, however, as she ended up remaining at the very first stop on her ferry flight, Bodrum, for seven days rather than continuing directly on to Hurghada as planned. She eventually resumed her ferry flight on 8 February, routing through Hurghada to Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport that day, then continuing to Karachi and Kolkata on 9 February, to Pattaya U-Tapao on 10 February, to Subang and Denpasar on 11 February, before finally reaching Australia at Darwin on 12 February, and continuing on through Mount Isa to Sydney Bankstown on 13 February. Pionair’s other BAe 146QC, VH-SIF (msn E2119) is currently undergoing major maintenance at Bankstown. Pionair also operates two BAe 146QTs, and recently added a third.

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