Voyager clocks first 1,000 hour month as capability builds

Category: Voyager


Voyager operations are continuing to grow at pace as the aircraft complete their busiest month to date, clocking up more than 1,000 hours in their air transport, training and air-to-air refuelling (AAR) roles.

Operating from RAF Brize Norton to more than 50 destinations on a regular basis, the fleet of six aircraft flew the equivalent of more than 41 continuous days in the sky, in October.

AirTanker CEO, Phill Blundell said that with new aircraft deliveries scheduled to pick up again in the New Year, RAF Voyager was making “very real progress”.

“We have made some excellent progress since our first air transport flight in 2012 with the arrival of a further three aircraft this year and the achievement of a number of key air-to-air refuelling milestones”, he said.

Blundell continued: “We’re now focused on the resumption of aircraft deliveries in the early part of the new year as we move rapidly towards the build-up of our core fleet of nine aircraft by the mid-point of 2014.

“There are still challenges ahead of us and lots of work to do as we integrate our systems ahead of our May 2014 in service date but as a whole we are making very real progress.”  

The 1,000 flight hours achieved by the Voyager fleet in October, follows a series of steps forward in the build-up of capability.

This included AirTanker’s Extended Twin (Engine) Operations (ETOPs) clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority this summer. This clears the aircraft that AirTanker operates on the civilian aircraft register (CAR), at the RAF’s disposal, to operate long-haul routes.

The programme also took a sizable step forward with the green light to refuel RAF Tornados in May, and the Typhoon fleet in June.

Combined, since the start of AAR operations, Voyager has completed more than 70 AAR sorties, giving away in excess of 2,300 tonnes of fuel.

A fully certified and militarily-converted Airbus A330-200, multi role tanker transport MRTT, Voyager has a total fuel capacity of 111 tonnes. This is delivered using standard A330-200 fuel tanks without adaptation of its cargo hold to accommodate additional capacity.

In addition to its AAR role Voyager also has capacity to carry up to 291 passengers with a cargo capability of up to 8 NATO pallets or up to 43 tonnes. The aircraft can also be configured to accommodate a 40 stretcher aeromedical evacuation capability including critical care.

Since starting flying in support of UK military operations in April 2012, the five military registered aircraft have together clocked more than 5,400 hours, flying more than 1,500 sectors, carrying more than 110,000 passengers and 6,300 tonnes plus of freight. 

AirTanker’s civilian registered aircraft has, up until the end of September, flown almost 1,200 hours and 300 sectors, carrying almost 30,000 passengers and more than 1,600 tonnes of freight, since the start of AirTanker’s civilian airline operation at the beginning of this year.

To discover more about Voyager and its growing capability, visit