An opening ceremony was held at Bournemouth International Airport, Dorset, on September 2 to mark the arrival of the first A330 for conversion in the UK to a Voyager tanker-transport for the Royal Air Force.
The first Voyager for the RAF gets airborne from Getafe, Spain, on October 26, 2010, following conversion by Airbus Military. Following a second conversion there, the third example arrived at Bournemouth International Airport, Dorset, on August 26 and is the first of 12 that will be converted in the UK. Airbus Military
Cobham Aviation Services hosted an opening ceremony on September 2 for its newly refurbished A330 Conversion Centre at Bournemouth International Airport, Dorset, to mark the arrival of the first of 12 Airbus Military A330-243s that will be converted for the Royal Air Force into Voyager Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft, a variant of the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport. The aircraft, EC-331 (c/n 1248, to be ZZ332), had flown into Bournemouth on August 28 from the factory in Toulouse, France, and will be the third Voyager conversion, following completion of the initial two by Airbus Military at Getafe, Spain.
The Voyager conversion effort will create and maintain in excess of 100 direct jobs at Cobham into 2016, to be further increased through indirect jobs. The activity also provides an opportunity to train graduates and apprentices and help prepare them for a career in aerospace engineering.
As part of the Voyager conversion, Cobham will install a pair of its fifth-generation wing-mounted 905E aerial refuelling pods on all 12 aircraft. In addition, seven Voyagers will also be fitted for Cobham’s 805E centre-line mounted fuselage refuelling units. In all, the RAF will operate a fleet of 14 Voyagers, including the two Airbus Military conversions, by the second half of this decade to replace its existing fleets of TriStar and VC10 aerial refuelling aircraft.
“Cobham looks forward to playing a key role in the AirTanker supply chain by providing and embodying its state-of-the-art air refuelling systems into the very capable A330 platform,” said Des Taylor, general manager of Cobham Aviation Services. “Under this five-year contract, Cobham has created more than 100 new, high-tech jobs in the Bournemouth area, including graduates and apprentices, to ensure that the RAF receives a 21st Century in-flight refuelling capability.”
Air Marshal Kevin Leeson, Chief of Materiel (Air), said: “The conversions carried out at this tremendous new Cobham facility will turn Airbus A330s into the most capable military tanker transport aircraft of its type in the world. Today we celebrate the arrival of the first aircraft into the Cobham Conversion Centre. Voyager will provide enhanced levels of availability, reliability and comfort for its passengers. Its 4,000 mile range carrying 291 passengers and freight will allow the UK to respond to world events with great speed. The air-to-air refuelling systems will provide access to an impressive 111 tonne fuel capacity and enable Voyager to refuel a large variety of platforms, from Typhoon jets to A400M transports.”
The first Voyager is scheduled to commence operations with the RAF before the end of this year, with all 14 due to enter service by the second half of this decade.