Voyager has flown Prince Harry home from his four-month Afghanistan tour as an Apache attack helicopter gunner.
The Prince, who is known as Captain Wales in the Army, touched down at RAF Brize Norton late yesterday afternoon [23/1/13] on an inbound flight from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus.
The Airbus A330, is one of a core fleet of nine state-of-the art aircraft that will be made available to the RAF for air-transport and air-to-air refueling, as part of the Voyager Programme.
Dave Mitchard, managing director, AirTanker, said: “The flight is illustrative of the significant progress that is being made against the programme which remains on course and on time, to deliver full capability to the RAF in 2016.
“As this flight highlights, the operational phase is now well under-way, and we’re achieving good results supporting the RAF in delivering a reliable, safe and comfortable service to all military personnel.”
The first of these aircraft, Voyager 01, began flight operations with the RAF on 8 April 2012. From its operational start date to the end of last year it has:
- Flown 385 times covering more than 1,096,500 kms
- Carried more than 21,800 troops and directly supported the Afghan air-bridge
- Carried in excess of 1,441,000 kgs of cargo
- Clocked more the 1,300 hours
- Achieved a 98 per cent plus, on time service delivery - a level of service comparable with a commercial airline.
Voyager 02, AirTanker’s civilian aircraft and the aircraft which brought Prince Harry home to Brize Norton is manned and flown by AirTanker pilots and supported by AirTanker cabin crew on the Civilian Aircraft Register as part of its airline operation.
It is available to the MOD to task in the same way as it currently tasks civilian charter aircraft to support troop and equipment movements but is available exclusively to them, delivering increased operational flexibility. Its’ pilots are also Sponsored Reservists and are also on that basis available to the RAF in a military capacity.
Mitchard concluded: “We’re rightly proud of what is being achieved. The service is pioneering in what it delivers and how it is delivering it. Embedding RAF personnel alongside civilian and Sponsored Reservist staff, we are successfully blending best practice from military and civilian aviation to deliver, a flexible, safe and reliable service to the RAF and Armed forces.”