Six aircraft: three continents

RAF Voyager marked a new first yesterday [23/4/14] as the entire fleet of six military aircraft, as delivered so far under the FSTA programme, were operating on tasks simultaneously across three different continents around the Globe.


This included flights across Asia, Europe and South America, in support of two training missions over Europe, three Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) sorties and one transporting British Forces back from Afghanistan. 

The AAR sorties included refuelling fast jets on their way to Cyprus, while one aircraft was scrambled in a UK air defence role (Quick Reaction Alert).

Wing Commander Ronnie Trasler O/C 101 Squadron, said: “Voyager is now very much an operational aircraft. That we have had all six aircraft on flying tasks at the same time indicates just how busy we and this programme now are.

“It’s something which would have been exceptionally unusual in the legacy fleet, and is indicative of Voyager’s growing capability and role.”  

To date seven aircraft are now flying from RAF Brize Norton as part of the Voyager programme. This includes the six aircraft flying on the Military Aircraft Register, including four three-point capable tankers and two two-point tankers.

This is in addition to a seventh aircraft, operated by AirTanker on the Civil Aircraft Register.

Exclusively available to the MOD, this civilian-manned aircraft is employed to support air transport movements around the globe, including maintenance of the Falklands air-bridge. 

AirTanker is scheduled to take delivery of the eighth Voyager later this Spring, with a final 9-strong ‘core’ fleet of aircraft available to the RAF later this year.  

A further five ‘surge requirement’ aircraft will be delivered through to 2016 to complete the 14 strong fleet. When not required by the RAF and MOD and with its agreement, these are available for AirTanker to use for other purposes including leasing.

The military Voyager fleet has flown almost 8,000 hours up to the end of March, carrying 138,000 passengers and 8900 tonnes of cargo.

AirTanker’s civil registered A330-200, having just passed 3030 flying hours, has flown more than 60,000 passengers and 3700 tonnes of cargo on 530 sectors.

24 April 2014