ZZ332, a KC3 tanker part of its fleet of converted A330 Airbus MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) aircraft, went into its first C2 Check at AirTanker’s RAF Brize Norton operational hub on 26/11/14.
A 40-strong engineering team is scheduled to deliver the periodic maintenance inspection in an industry standard 10-12 days. It will then go through further planned modifications.
Paul Kimberley, AirTanker Services Director of Fleet Engineering, said: “It represents a step-change in our MRO capability.
“We’re no longer reliant on external providers or in competition with other carriers for maintenance slots, delivering flexibility to align work more effectively and to minimise the impact of scheduled maintenance on our operations.
“It gives us far greater security and allows us to deliver a better service to the RAF but also demonstrates the solid support and engineering capability that AirTanker is building here at RAF Brize Norton.”
Aircraft maintenance checks are periodic inspections for commercial, general-aviation and military aircraft. Although eight of the Voyager fleet currently fly on the Military Aircraft Register (MAR), they remain civil-owned aircraft and are maintained against European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) inspection programmes.
C Checks are carried out around every 18 months, running on a 12 year cycle encompassing C1 to C8 Checks, the smaller checks usually take one to two weeks, the most demanding checks C4 and C8 in the schedule involving a full structural inspection of the aircraft, taking tens of thousands of man hours and up to several weeks to deliver.
The first ‘C1’ C-Check on ZZ332 was carried out by Monarch in Manchester in 2013. The ‘C2’ currently being carried out by AirTanker’s engineers covers a general inspection of the aircraft. Tasks include functional and operational systems checks, cleaning and servicing, attendance to minor structural inspections and Service Bulletin requirements.
Kimberley continued: “We have full CAA approvals, a state-of-the-art engineering facility and we offer a service which is benchmarked against that of commercial service providers. We’re very much focussed on applying that expertise in support of our primary customer, the RAF.
He added: “There may also be scope to extend this service to a wider A330 MRTT market place in the future.”
To date, AirTanker, which was appointed by the MOD in 2008, has delivered 10 aircraft under the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) contract. This includes a core capability of nine aircraft, which was declared by the MOD this summer. This is made up of eight aircraft flown by the RAF on the Military Aircraft Register (2x two-point tankers and 6x three-point tankers) and one aircraft is flown on the CAR by AirTanker under its own AOC.
AirTanker’s engineering service also completed its first military to civil conversion on the tenth aircraft at its RAF Brize Norton operational hub in November. The delivery of the 11th aircraft is expected in early 2015. A further three aircraft will be delivered up until the end of 2016, forming a five strong MRTT/A330-200 ‘surge fleet’.
These aircraft are available to the MOD if required at time of major conflict. When not required by the RAF, this surge fleet capability is available to AirTanker for release, with its agreement, for other purposes. This could include release to the charter market, less its military equipment or to partner nations in a military capacity with the MOD’s agreement.