Yesterday I wrote from Airbus Military’s Getafe site near Madrid about a change of conversion plan for the UK’s next (and fifth) A330 Voyager tanker/transport, and lo and behold, look what I saw taking to the air in Toulouse today, but the very same aircraft.
Airbus expects the “green” widebody to arrive in Getafe towards the end of this week, after a decision was taken to move its conversion from Cobham Aviation Services in the UK. The latter says that it is already “working at full capacity” on its first two airframes.
The need to safeguard the planned delivery schedule for the next aircraft in the UK’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft deal (a private finance initiative contract) is such that a large penalty payment would have been incurred with any slip, hence the move to Spain. Much as the PFI route for delivering Voyager has been criticised on cost terms, a traditional procurement wouldn’t have had this option available to it.