Cobham Aviation Services Australia

Cobham Aviation Services Australia (formerly National Jet Systems), is a scheduled and charter airline and aviation services provider with its headquarters in Adelaide, South Australia.

Cobham Aviation Services Australia
IATA ICAO Callsign
Secondary hubs
Fleet size40
Parent companyCobham plc
HeadquartersAdelaide Airport, South Australia
Key peopleRyan Both, CEO[1]


National Jet Systems (NJS) was established in 1989 and started operations on 1 July 1990. It soon commenced scheduled operations on behalf of Australian Airlines, mainly to tourist destinations in northern Australia, operating a fleet of BAe 146 aircraft under the Airlink brand. At one point during the 1990s the Airline operated Boeing 737-300 aircraft.[2] After Australian Airlines merged with Qantas it continued these operations, and in 2005 commenced operating Boeing 717 aircraft, the operation being rebranded as QantasLink at the same time. The services on behalf of QantasLink are contracted until 2026.[3] In September 2014, Cobham announced it will require at least one Embraer E190 to use on its regional Barrow Island contract. The aircraft was introduced in early 2015, and withdrawn in February 2018.[4] In June 2018, Cobham donated the forward section of one of their retired BAe 146 aircraft to the South Australian Aviation Museum. The section features the flight deck, forward galley and cabin, and is intended to be turned into an interactive exhibit.[5]


Cobham Aviation Services provides aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for the Australian Government using highly modified Dash 8 aircraft.[6]

Cobham Aviation Services provides all crew and engineering support and services for QantasLink's Boeing 717 operations in Australia,[7] and operates freight services for StarTrack, along with charter services across its regional network for clients such as Chevron Corporation, Metals X, Karara Mining, Westgold and Gold Fields; resource companies that require Fly In/Fly Out (FIFO) services across remote Australia. Cobham Headquarters is at Adelaide Airport, with hubs at Cairns, Darwin, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Hobart.

Cobham Aviation Services has developed "turnkey" transportation systems, including airport management and reservations services, for major Australian infrastructure projects such as Santos's Cooper Basin gas fields at Moomba and Ballera in the heart of Australia, Chevron's Barrow Island operations into a Class "A" nature reserve with strict quarantine requirements, along with operations for Ok Tedi gold and copper mine in Papua New Guinea.[8]

Cobham Regional Services, also known as National Jet Express, or JetEx, conducts scheduled closed charter flights on its "regional network" and freight services on behalf of StarTrack.[9] JetEx operates four BAe 146 freighters on night freight services to and from curfew-restricted Sydney Airport, along with BAe 146 and RJ100 aircraft in Perth and Adelaide on scheduled closed charter flights for bluechip minings clients. Surveillance Australia, or Special Missions business unit operates a civilian aerial surveillance program on behalf of the Border Protection Command.[10] Cobham Airline Services operates the QantasLink Boeing 717 aircraft, these flights use the "QF" IATA code and the ICAO code "QJE" (call sign 'Q-Jet').

In 2014 Cobham Aviation Services announced a four-year contract providing fly-in fly-out services to mining company Gold Fields, servicing Granny Smith and Darlot. As part of this contract Cobham will operate an 82-seat Avro RJ85 equipped with gravel kit allowing the jet aircraft to land on gravel runways.[11] Consecutively, scheduled services to Kambalda ceased, with flights being transferred to Skippers Aviation.

Cobham Aviation Services introduced the first Embraer E190 to be used in the Australian closed charter sector in 2015. The 104 seat E190 operated in addition to the Avro RJ100 servicing Chevron Corporation's natural gas operations in Western Australia. The contract was said to be worth more than $160 million.[12] The Embraer E190 was withdrawn from the Cobham fleet in February 2018, with additional RJ100 frames replacing it.

On 24 October 2014, Australian Maritime Safety Authority awarded a new contract[13] to Cobham SAR Services Pty Ltd to commence in August 2016 for a minimum of twelve years valued at $640 million AUD with three one-year contract extension options which would take the full value to over $700 million AUD.[14] They will replace AeroRescue Pty Ltd who have been operating Dornier 328P aircraft. Cobham SAR Services Pty Ltd will operate four Bombardier CL-604 aircraft specially modified and equipped for the contract, based at Cairns, Melbourne, and Perth.[15]

Flights from Adelaide to Moomba and Ballera ceased on 29 February 2016. At that time, it marked the end of Cobham-branded passenger services from Adelaide which had begun 25 years previously. Flights from Adelaide, servicing Port Augusta and Prominent Hill, commenced in August 2017.[16]


Cobham's operations can be broken into four separate branches; it flies scheduled services on its own behalf.[17] Scheduled operations on behalf of QantasLink and Qantas Freight. It also has an extensive closed charter operation in support of the mining industry.[18][19]

Cobham charter services
Domestic scheduled destinations for QantasLink
Freight scheduled destinations for Qantas Freight
  • Queensland
    • Brisbane (Brisbane Airport)
  • Victoria
    • Melbourne (Melbourne Airport)
  • New South Wales
    • Sydney (Sydney Airport)
  • South Australia
    • Adelaide (Adelaide Airport)


As of September 2019 the Cobham fleet consists of the following aircraft:[20]

Cobham Aviation Services Australia Fleet
Aircraft In service On order Notes
Avro RJ100 5
Avro RJ85 2
BAe 146-200 1
BAe 146-300 1
BAe 146-300QT 4 Operated on freight services for Qantas Freight
Challenger 604 4 Operated under a 12-year contract for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority[21]
Boeing 717-200 20 Operated on passenger services as part of QantasLink
Embraer 190 1
Bombardier Dash-8-Q400 2
Total 40


  • 13 October 2010: A Cobham Boeing 717-200, operating in Qantas livery, was close to stalling. The flight from Perth to Kalgoorlie had two 'stick shaker' (stall) warnings. They were caused by the pilot entering the wrong weight of the aircraft into the flight management system (FMS), and by the pilots not following correct stall recovery procedures.[22][23]
  • 29 April 2014: The no. 2 engine of a Cobham Aviation Avro RJ100, registration VH-NJI, failed shortly after take-off from Perth. Witnesses described a trail of sparks leaving the back of the No. 2 (left-hand, inner) engine. The aircraft made a successful landing with no injuries.[24][25]
  • 27 May 2015: A Cobham Boeing 717-200, operating from Brisbane to Gladstone in Qantas livery, was on its initial climb out of Brisbane when it suffered a 'stick shaker' (stall) warning. It was caused by the pilot retracting the flaps by mistake.[26]
  • 30 July 2019: A Cobham Aviation RJ85 VH-NJW sustained major damage to the front of the aircraft after it came into contact with a light pole and a set of passenger boarding stairs after its brakes failed as it began to taxi to the runway for departure to Granny Smith Mine Site. No injuries were reported.

See also


  1. Cobham finalises $50m Santos contract extension - Australian Aviation 31 May 2012
  2. "VH-NJE Boeing 737-3Q8".
  3. "Cobham Aviation Services wins $1.2bn QantasLink contract"; The Australian. Retrieved: 11 September 2016.
  4. "Cobham introduces Embraer E190 for contract extension"; Aviation Business. Retrieved: 21 September 2014.
  5. "BAe146 forward section arrives at SAAM!"; South Australian Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 27 July 2018.
  7. About Our Subsidiary Companies: QantasLink (accessed 2008-03-10)
  8. Oil, Mining and Gas
  9. CASA website link to National Jet Express AOC. Retrieved: 6 September 2008
  10. Surveillance Australia - home page. Retrieved: 16 June 2009.
  12. "Cobham E190 Steps on the Gas".
  13. "New search and rescue aircraft contract awarded" (PDF). AMSA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  14. "Cobham wins $640m AMSA search and rescue contract - Australian Aviation".
  15. "Cobham wins AUD $640 million Australian Maritime Safety Authority contract for Airborne Search & Rescue". Cobham Aviation Pty Ltd. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  16. "Cobham wins FIFO contract with OZ Minerals". Cobham Aviation Services. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  17. "Flight Status - Passenger Information - Cobham Aviation Services".
  18. "National Jet Seals Expanded Services for Murrin Murrin"; National Jet Media Release. Archived 19 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 6 September 2008.
  19. "National Jet Seals Barrow Island Contract with Bristow Helicopters"; National Jet Media Release. Archived 19 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 6 September 2008.
  20. Australian civil aircraft register search, using "National Jet" as the search parameter. Search conducted 29 May 2019
  21. "Challenger arrival heralds new era for Australian SAR | Australian Aviation". Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  22. "Pilot error throws Qantas flight into near-chaos". News Corp. 10 February 2012.
  23. Sandilands, Ben (9 February 2012). "ATSB report into Qantaslink 717 incident says crew entered wrong flight data and didn't follow operating procedures". Plane Talking. Crikey.
  24. "Plane lands safely at Perth Airport after engine fire". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 29 April 2014.
  25. |website=AV Herald
  26. "ATSB report: Stickshaker activation involving a Boeing 717-200". ATSB. 22 December 2015.

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