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.
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?