An Embraer E190’s 21+ Hour Journey To Australia

Filed Under: Other Airlines

A reader from Brisbane emailed me yesterday about an E190 that flew over his house yesterday. Flightradar24 suggested the flight had flown 11+ hours nonstop from Honolulu, and the reader wanted to know if that was even possible.

That’s not quite what happened, it seems, but there’s a pretty cool story behind this nonetheless.

Embraer E190 flies from Costa Rica to Australia

An Embraer E190 needed to be repositioned from Central America to Australia. Specifically, until March 2020 the plane flew for Panama’s COPA Airlines, and after being in storage for about a year in Costa Rica, the plane will now join the fleet of Australia’s Alliance Airlines.

So, how does an E190 fly from Central America to Australia? The plane with the registration code N998QQ completed the ~10,200 mile journey in four segments:

  • The plane flew the ~2,600 mile flight from San Jose to San Diego in a flight time of 4hr57min
  • The plane flew the ~2,600 mile flight from San Diego to Honolulu in a flight time of 5hr19min
  • The plane flew the ~2,300 mile flight from Honolulu to theMarshall Islands and the ~2,700 mile flight from the Marshall Islands to Brisbane in a flight time of 11hr28min (the reader’s confusion stemmed from the fact that Flightradar24 was showing this as a nonstop flight, when in fact it stopped to refuel)

Altogether the plane spent around 22hr in the air. It’s worth noting that there were some stops along the way — the plane was in San Diego for three nights, then in Honolulu for one night, and then just refueled in the Marshall Islands (I suspect the Honolulu stop was for crew rest, while there might have been another reason for the San Diego stop, since three days is longer than you’d usually need for crew rest).

An E190’s range is around 2,800 miles, though that assumes a significant payload. Given how empty the E190 likely was, it could have flown significantly longer distances nonstop. Nonetheless, given that this routing was primarily over water, it makes sense that the pilots didn’t push the limits of the plane too much.

Alliance Airlines’ huge E190 plans

Brisbane-based Alliance Airlines has historically operated a fleet of up to 46 Fokker aircraft. However, the airline is significantly increasing its fleet size with the acquisition of some used Embraer 190s. The airline is taking delivery of up to 30 of these, including:

  • 14 former COPA Airlines E190s
  • 16 former American Airlines E190s

These are all still reasonably new planes — COPA took delivery of its E190s between 2005 and 2009, while American took delivery of its E190s between 2006 and 2013. So these planes are between eight and 16 years old. This is significantly younger than Alliance’s average fleet age otherwise, which is around 28 years.

Alliance will use these planes both to bolster its own network, and to increase its operations on behalf of other airlines. Historically Alliance has operated flights on behalf of both Qantas and Virgin Australia, with Qantas even owning a 20% stake in Alliance.

Bottom line

Alliance Airlines is taking delivery of 30 Embraer E190s, all of which are coming from the Americas. These planes have quite a journey to Brisbane — as you can see, one plane stopped in San Diego, Honolulu, and the Marshall Islands, and you can expect similar stops for future deliveries.

It’s always fascinating to see how aircraft are delivered around the world. An E190 is hardly logistically the most challenging plane to deliver, since there are much shorter range aircraft.

Still pretty cool, eh?

  1. Lucky, Alliance is used by a majority of major mining clients as charter to service the FIFO (fly in fly out) mining sector here in Aus.

  2. FlightAware and similar classical websites that ingest FAA flight plans (and maybe Australian too) can probably show the MAJ/PKMJ stop without ADS-B data.

  3. It is such a beautiful and comfortable jet with the 2 x 2 seat configuration where every passenger gets either a window or aisle seat. I don’t know why this airframe is not more successful here in North America.

  4. Ben, these are some of my favorite posts outside of trip reviews. Can you do one about a Qatar G6 that went from Perth to Honolulu the other day? I can’t find a reason why it would do a route like that! Thanks

  5. Some years ago I was involved in positioning a Twin Otter from Calgary to Tbilisi.

    Route was YYC YYQ YFB UAQ RKV WIC BUD TBS …. a long shaky run!

  6. For a number of years we flew a Calgary YYC or Edmonton YEG based DHC-6 twin otter on floats from MLE to Conrad Rangali Island. It seems they did the Maldives flights in the winter and bush runs in the summer (Alberta/Northwest Territories?). We never asked the pilot/owner the transit routing and now with Trans Maldivian Airlines taking over there is no chance to find out. Must have been pretty interesting with the max range of 799 nm.

  7. Thanks for posting this article. I had the same question since I saw these former COPA birds at SJO.

    Had the opportunity to fly on these Erj-190s from SJO to GUA and PTY on several occasions.

    I wish the best to Alliance Airlines.

    Greetings from Costa Rica. Pura Vida!

  8. I’ve been involved (from the periphery) in a few of these. We sent a M28 Skytruck from Mielec, Poland on a month long tour around Latin America, that required it to cross the Atlantic Ocean and we had a South American customer pick-up 7 UH-60M BLACK HAWK helicopters in upstate NY and ferry fly them to their home base, which required island hopping across the Caribbean and Central America.

    Also, WorldAirRoutes has a video showing an Azul ATR-72 from Toulouse to Bello Horizonte.

  9. Flying an Embraer E190 from Honolulu to Brisbane without any stops. That would be a perfect distance for such a small aircraft! But nothing could be further from the truth.

    All compliments for Ben, which has done some good research on the routing of flight SXI2107. The aircraft was not visible on the Marshall Islands during the refuel which made it appear that the Embraer had performed an 11+ hour non-stop flight.

    Definitely expect more similar stops and ferries like this in the future by Southern Cross International. Any type, any place, anytime, we deliver! ✈

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