The RAF fleet of Texan T1 training aircraft is currently restricted from operating over water due to issues with the life raft, harness and life jacket on the aircraft.

The Beechcraft Texan has taken over the basic fast jet training role previously fulfilled by the Tucano T1. Students progress onto the aircraft from the Prefect and move forwards to the Hawk T2.

Tucano was replaced by the Texan at RAF Valley under the UK Military Flying Training System contract, which at least now seems to have turned the corner. The UK Military Flying Training System takes aircrew from initial training through elementary, basic, and advanced flying training phases, preparing them for their arrival at their designated operational aircraft units. It is operated by Ascent Flight Training, a consortium of Lockheed Martin and Babcock International under a 25-year Private Finance Initiative contract for the Ministry of Defence.

Hywel Williams, Plaid Cymru MP for Arfion, asked via a Parliamentary written question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the RAF Texan T1 trainer aircraft has been cleared to operate over water.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, answered:

“The operation of Texan T1 trainers over water is currently minimised on a temporary basis. This is because as part of the aircraft certification process, the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) deemed that the harness on this particular aircraft could not currently be fitted with a water-activated quick-release mechanism which would be required if a pilot became incapacitated in a sea survival situation.

Also, in extreme cold weather survival situations, the life raft would not provide extended thermal protection period for the pilot. The RAF is working as a priority exploring options for a new combination of life raft, harness and life jacket on Texan aircraft, that would enable the review of this restriction.”

TEXAN T1 stats, via the RAF website:

  • Powerplant: one 1,100shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turboprop engine
  • Length: 33ft 4in (10.16m)
  • Height: 10ft 8in (3.25m)
  • Wingspan: 33ft 5in (10.20m)
  • Wing area: 175.30sqft (16.28m2)
  • Maximum take-off weight: 6,900lb (3,130kg)
  • Maximum speed: 316kt (585km/h)
  • Ferry range: 884nm (1,637km)
  • Maximum altitude: 31,000ft
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Ian M

So, do they fly around and around inside the coastline of Anglesey?

Harry Bulpit

Youd think for such a widly utilised aircraft type under a civilian contract it wouldn’t have such a issue. Although I guess the MOD will always work its magic on the things it touches. However, if the rumours of additional aircraft is true, then this would be a great opportunity to get some with hard points fitted. Would allow the pilots to get early training on aircraft weaponry, and if we find ourselves in another low intensity conflict like Afghanistan then they would make great CAS platforms.


I find the comments a bit outlandish about the seat harnesses. The Texan uses a Mk16 Martin Baker ejector seat. Now forgive me if I’m wrong, but don’t MB make a lot of ejection seats for a number of different aircraft, one being the Hawk. I don’t see the Hawk with similar restrictions?

Another service provided by ex-military pilots that state they can provide a better but cheaper service than the original military flight training schools. Sorry, whilst I snort in derision!

Daniele Mandelli

Agree. If it works, don’t fix it. The FTS worked well enough I believe until they started privatising things. Having said that, I hear the DHFS ( now 1 FTS ) was successful enough.


MB make different variants of the MK16 for different aircraft and customers. The T6 Texan II tends to operate over open arid places in the US negating the need for ditching gear.

John Walker

We bought a bunch of UAV’s that can do that job of dropping bombs or missiles on insurgents just as effectively if not better than a manned aircraft. The Texan II is a fine trainer and that is where it should be used lest one get’s shot down and we loose a pilot..


T6 Texan II in RAF service will never end up in the affordable CAS role especially when the UK has drones to call upon.

These aircraft are owned and operated by Ascent Flight Training for UKMFTS only and operated on a power by the hour contract. The aircraft are also effectively off the shelf, considering in the US they spend much of the time flying over open arid places the provision for wet escape equipment would not be needed and the MB would fit a version without the appropriate strap.
A rectifiable issue…

Levi Goldsteinberg

I suppose they fly out of RAF Valley, across the sea outside Liverpool and up into the Lake District – if so, it’ll be very quiet in the Lakes for a while. Heading back up there shortly and I’ll just have to put up with poxy Hawks, C-130s, A400s, C-17s, F-15s and Typhoons roaring overhead and down the valley at treetop height. Sigh.

Seriously though if any of you are into planespotting I definitely recommend spending some time at Buttermere and keeping an eye on the sky.

Daniele Mandelli

Buttermere? Ta. I’ve seen the vids on You tube of flights through that area, and the Mach Loop in Wales.


Best plane spotting I did was whilst staying in a small village near Moreton-in-Marsh during the Balkan conflict. We were watching Tornados and Harriers flying in a valley just below where we were staying. Whilst playing football the next day six Tornados came flying over in formation at about 500 feet, everyone hit the deck and almost @#&£ themselves.

Add to that hearing and seeing formations of B1 and B52 Bombers taking off in the distance from (presumably) RAF Fairford. It made for great spotting but you couldn’t help feel a little sorry for whoever they were going after.

David Barry

Gummershow is great, they actually flew underneath, up Windermere. Seen 3 Slovak Mig 29s as well. They had joined NATO at the time. In Ulverston on Hoad, three Hawks came screaming in under the pepperpot, two in pursuit of the first, the last one jinxed to the right as the first two had gone to the left… and then onto Coniston. SF Hercs normally take this route too… low and slow. And of course over Morecambe Bay you could see the Tiffs as they came into service. Latvia? F15, 16,Tiffs, Gripens, transports… thankfully oppo Migs have stayed away…and only rumours… Read more »


Used to be responsible for procurement support for the Israeli Texan fleet (24 or 28? airframes). Bought everything from spare engines from P&W Canada, seats from MB, tires, props, you name it. Never heard of this problem…


john melling

Why buy something that cant be used over the water due to lack of sea survival compatibility?
Somebody messed up…….again!
It should have been thought of during the Procurement process

Daniele Mandelli

Where basic training has been for the last decades, at Linton, did not matter so much.


Could be a batch failure issue.. Or something idenfified as a risk in particular weather conditions…

Ian M

Did you say Dominic’s Cumming?

Daniele Mandelli

Is there an echo here? You just posted almost the same message on the Drone article.

Do drone off.


I know drones are popular nowadays, but I didn’t realise they post boring comments on websites! Your recent comments are extra boring recently H, whats up, the flow of two stroke and buckets of potatoes dried up from your masters?

Lee H

Morning all
Seems like a basic failure in requirements capture here.
Hence they are now “seeking solutions”.
Whilst the programme may have now “turned a corner” basic mistakes are still being made.
Another day, another “not my fault”.
Lucky we don’t live on an island really or base our training aircraft on a smaller island…..


bit of a limitation when the aircraft are based on an island!