AirTanker takes receipt of first ‘commercial aircraft’

AirTanker has taken delivery of its latest multi-role tanker transport aircraft (MRTT), which touched down at RAF Brize Norton on Thursday [5/2/15].

The first commercially available aircraft delivered to the AirTanker fleet and the eleventh delivered to date under the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme, it will now go into a three-month in-house conversion.

As part of this process, all military modifications will be removed to restore the airframe to its civil A330-200 type. Once complete, the aircraft will be registered by AirTanker on the Civil Aircraft Register as G-VYGK ahead of its scheduled operation in support of Thomas Cook Airline’s UK long haul programme from May this year.

Tony Carder, AirTanker Services’ Director of Aircraft Leasing, said that the arrival represented “a very exciting step” for the organisation.

“The delivery of the aircraft at Brize Norton is a major milestone for our civil leasing business and brings us a step closer to operational reality, reflecting the growing capability that AirTanker is developing”, he said.

“Our in-house engineering teams will now take the aircraft through a full military to civil conversion. In addition to removing all military equipment, this will also include the reconfiguration of the cabin. This includes the installation of 320 new seats and seat back IFE system.”

Signed in 2008, the deal between AirTanker and the Ministry of Defence tasks AirTanker, whose shareholders include Airbus Group, Rolls Royce, Thales, Cobham and Babcock, with the delivery, military conversion and subsequent operation and support for, 14 Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

This includes a core fleet of nine aircraft, flown in support of and by the RAF and surge capability, which is available to AirTanker to lease when not required by the RAF. Completing its core RAF fleet on time and to budget last year [2014] with the delivery of the ninth Voyager aircraft, five aircraft delivered between now and Q4 2016, sit within this surge capability.    

*The deal with Thomas Cook Airlines, is agreed directly between AirTanker and Thomas Cook for AirTanker-owned aircraft and sits outside that already in place with the MOD. No RAF crew will be employed in its delivery.

05 February 2015