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