It has been revealed that the RAF have been making very light use of Voyager surge aircraft available to, reflecting best practice for the surge fleet and suggesting the mixture of operational and surge aircraft is appropriate.
14 Voyagers are in the UK’s 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 ofte flown permanently on MoD transport duties to the Falkands, Canada and locations.
We have been informed that MoD is making excellent use of some of the surge Voyagers.
The information comes in the form of a response to a written parliamentary question.
Asked by Andrew Gwynne (MP for Denton and Reddish):
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many and what proportion of aircraft in the Voyager surge fleet has been used by the Royal Air Force in each month since the first aircraft of that fleet was delivered.”
Answered by: Philip Dunne (Minister for Defence Procurement)
“Voyager surge aircraft are owned by AirTanker Services Ltd and leased to civil airlines. No Voyager surge aircraft have been recalled to the military aircraft register for use by the Royal Air Force’s Voyager Squadrons. However, there have been seven occasions when Civilian registered Voyager surge aircraft have been chartered for individual tasks to transport troops.”
The A330 MRTT can be modified to carry up to 380 passengers in a single class configuration, allowing a complete range of configurations from maximised troop transport to complex customisation suitable for VIP and guest missions.
Available configurations include 300 passengers in a single class and 266 passengers in two classes. The A330 MRTT can also be configured to perform Medical Evacuation missions; up to 130 standard stretchers can be carried.
In 2015 it was announced that an RAF Voyager will be refitted to carry government ministers or members of the Royal Family for official visits. The refit is to cost £10 million but would save about £775,000 annually compared to the current practice of chartering flights. This aircraft will be fitted with 158 seats.