The Voyager aircraft, named “Vespina”, has completed its refurbishment with a new paint job.
The Airbus A330 Voyager is an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft with transport capabilities and is based on the civilian Airbus A330. The multi-role A330 tanker/transport has been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Air Force, United Arab Emirates Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force.
14 Voyagers leased from the company ‘Air Tanker’ are in the Royal Air Force fleet, nine are in the RAF’s “core” capability and the other five are considered “surge” aircraft and are often leased to airlines when not required. It should be noted that one or two of the surge fleet remain in the Air Tanker livery and are often flown permanently on MoD transport duties to the Falklands, Canada and other locations.
The job of this specific Voyager aircraft, say the MoD, is to provide a secure, cost-effective and suitably profiled transport for Government Ministers and the Royal Family.
“The aircraft now proudly displays the Union Flag alongside RAF markings and is ready to represent the UK across the globe.”
After weeks of work, the Voyager returned to RAF Brize Norton where it will operate alongside the rest of the RAF Voyager fleet. Alongside its VIP transport role, the repainted Voyager aircraft remains certified for its original use of air-to-air refuelling and personnel transport.
Air Commodore Simon Edwards, the Senior Responsible officer for the project said:
“This project was a privilege to have been involved in and I am delighted to have seen it delivered so quickly and efficiently, together with our industry partners. The aircraft’s new paint scheme will better reflect its prestige role which we are proud to undertake.”
According to a statement from the Royal Air Force:
“The aircraft, known as Vespina and also often referred to as ‘ZZ336’ which is its military registration number, was previously visually indistinguishable from the rest of the Operational Voyager Fleet. This external paint scheme will better reflect its VIP mission and contribution to ‘Global Britain’. The paintwork concludes a refurbishment stemming from the 2015 SDSR. The Project first created and agreed an outline design before being modified to account for commercial, legal, operational and design needs. This process was not only about the visual design, this was a complex engineering project requiring detailed drawings which were developed by AIRBUS. Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group were then chosen to deliver the project on time and within budget.”
The aircraft is used by the Prime Minister, other ministers and senior members of the Royal Family for official engagements.
Official flights using either Royal Squadron planes or long haul charter, cost on average £6,700 per flying hour while using a Voyager aircraft would cost £2,000. It would be available for refuelling when it wasn’t in use.
Voyager key facts:
- Based on the Airbus A330 aircraft.
- Weighs 293 tonnes.
- Has a wingspan of 60m.
- Can carry 111 tonnes of fuel or 45 tonnes of freight.
- Has a crew of 2 (pilot and co-pilot) on passenger carrying missions.
- Has 8 cabin crew when passenger carrying or else 11 cabin crew on VIP tasks.
- Has a surface area of 2874 metres.