Budget pressures have forced the Royal Netherlands Air Force to change its plans to field a third used McDonnell Douglas DC-10 as a combined passenger/freighter, with the aircraft now to be used solely for personnel transport.

The ex-United Airlines aircraft was acquired in 2004 and underwent maintenance in 2005-6, before being flown to Woensdrecht for conversion to the new configuration.

Part of the work was to install a palletised seating system, which would enable a rapid change from passenger to freight configuration. But the need to comply with new safety guidelines in the Netherlands increased the cost of the work too much, and led under-secretary of defence Jack de Vries to announce that the DC-10 would now be used only for passenger duties.

The decision was also motivated by the lack of air transport to support the logistic chain between the Netherlands and Afghanistan, where Dutch troops provide part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. The DC-10 is expected to enter operational service later this year.

The RNLAF will introduce additional airlift capability next year, when two ex-US Navy Lockheed Martin C-130 transports will be delivered for operations. The Netherlands is also supporting a NATO initiative to field a pool of three Boeing C-17 strategic transports.

Source: Flight International