Known as the Voyager in RAF service, the aircraft took off from RAF Brize Norton for a training sortie around the United Kingdom to allow the AirTanker crew to familiarize themselves with the aircraft and achieve the first part of the Voyager crew training schedule.
The Voyager aircraft was delivered by Airbus Military to AirTanker, the company formed to operate and support the Voyager for the UK Ministry of Defence under the Future Strategic Transport Aircraft programme, at the end of last year.
The Voyager aircraft represents a new standard in tanker/transport technology and will provide the RAF with the world´s most advanced air-to-air refueling, passenger transport and aeromedical capability. As a modern and efficient aircraft, the Voyager is quieter and more fuel-efficient than any other aircraft currently based at RAF Brize Norton – the RAF´s primary transport/tanker base.
Airbus Military has to deliver 14 converted aircraft to AirTanker, of which two have already been converted from the basic A330-200 in Getafe and another two are in conversion at Cobham facilities in the UK. The Voyager has military and civil certification and the service will operate aircraft on both the military and civilian registers.
Antonio Caramazana, Programme Director Airbus Military Derivatives, said: “It is a proud day for everyone involved with the A330 MRTT programme to see the Voyager in service with the RAF. We look forward to many years of successful operation of the aircraft by AirTanker.”
Phil Blundell, Chief Executive of AirTanker said: “The aircraft is a magnificent airframe which combines efficiency, effective tasking capability and reliability. The programme brings together the best of the civilian aviation industry with military operational expertise and will offer an innovative and multi-functional capability to meet the demands of the 21st Century.”
The Airbus Military A330 MRTT is the only new generation strategic tanker/transport aircraft flying and available today. The large, 111 tonnes/ 245,000 lb basic fuel capacity of the successful A330-200 airliner, from which it is derived, enables the A330 MRTT to excel in Air-to-Air Refuelling missions without the need for any additional fuel tank. The A330 MRTT is offered with a choice of proven air-to-air refuelling systems including an advanced Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System, and/or a pair of under-wing hose and drogue pods, and/or a Fuselage Refuelling Unit.
Thanks to its true wide-body fuselage, the A330 MRTT can also be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry 300 troops, or a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb. It can also easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC). To-date, a total of 28 A330 MRTTs have been ordered by four customers (Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom), with one (Saudi Arabia) having already placed a repeat order.