Engineering inspections and paperwork have forced the Historical Aviation Restoration Society (HARS) to delay the ferry flight of an ex-Qantas Boeing 707 owned by John Travolta to some time in calendar 2020.
While the aircraft had previously been expected fly from the United States in November, HARS said in its October 2019 newsletter 2020 was now a more likely date for the 707’s arrival in Australia.
The newsletter said more time was needed to comply with the regulatory requirements from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as well as to complete the necessary inspections.
“Originally the arrival of the 707 was planned for November 2019,” the newsletter said.
“But, as all aviation professionals know, the paperwork on an acquisition such as the 707 is enormous and involves hours and hours of research by engineering teams to ensure adherence with the strict aviation safety procedures of CASA and the FAA.”
The 707-138B, registered N707JT, has been in Georgia in the United States being prepared for the flight to HARS’s facility located at Albion Park south of Sydney.
Travolta said in May 2017 he wanted to donate the aircraft to HARS.
Since then, volunteers from the society have been over to Georgia working to restore the aircraft to a safe flying state for the trip to Australia, as well as working on the necessary regulatory approvals.
HARS said in the October 2019 newsletter work had started on the inspection of the pylon support brackets.
“The aircraft has been relocated to a hangar at Stambaugh Aviation, Brunswick, Georgia where work will be undertaken to comply with an Airworthiness Directive,” the HARS newsletter said.
“The inspection involves using a HFEC (High Frequency Eddy Current) to search for cracks in the attachment fittings and this exercise will be carried out on all four engines.
“Until we have a result from these inspections, we cannot move forward with the ferry flight.”
In 2017, Travolta said he was planning on being part of the delivery flight for the 707.
As VH-EBM and named City of Launceston, the 707 was delivered to Qantas in September 1964 and stayed with the airline until 1968. After a brief stint with Braniff Airlines the 707 was converted with a corporate jet interior in the 1970s. Travolta acquired the aircraft in 1998.
Qantas named Travolta as one of its ambassadors in 2002 when the 707 was repainted in the airline’s iconic V-Jet livery from the 1960s. The actor, who lives in Florida, also owns a number of other aircraft.
The former VH-EBM will become the second ex-Qantas 707 to go on display in Australia, after the airline’s first 707, the former VH-EBA City of Canberra, was placed on display with the Qantas Founders Museum in June 2007.
HARS is already the home of Qantas’s historic Boeing 747-400, the former VH-OJA (and also) City of Canberra that flew nonstop from London Heathrow to Sydney on its delivery flight.