Airbus Military has revealed the fifth Airbus A330 to be converted under the UK's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft programme will be modified at its Getafe site, near Madrid, and not by Cobham Aviation Services as previously planned.
"We have reached an agreement with the customer and Cobham to move the work," says Francisco Carrasco, director of Airbus Military's A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) activities for Saudi Arabia. "This is to secure the delivery schedule on the programme," he adds.
The widebody airliner is due to arrive in Getafe from Toulouse, France, on 25 May, Carrasco says.
Airbus Military modified the UK's first two A330 Voyagers in Spain, with Cobham having been under contract to convert the remaining 12 at its Bournemouth airport site in Dorset, England. Two aircraft are in work in its "Hangar 12", with work on the first having previously been targeted for completion around August 2012.
Cobham says it is "working at full capacity with the conversion of aircraft three and four", and that moving work on the next aircraft to Getafe will "help in keeping the delivery schedule of converted aircraft in accordance with the contractual delivery requirements and the capability requirements of UK Ministry of Defence". It adds: "Cobham and Airbus Military will continue to work together to deliver the aircraft in the contracted delivery timeframe [and] do what is right for the programme."
Speaking in Getafe on 21 May, Carrasco said Airbus Military expects to deliver seven A330 MRTT aircraft in 2012 - to Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the UK, which flew its first operational air transport sortie with the Voyager on 6 April.
Work continues to address a fuel venting issue encountered during flight tests with the Panavia Tornado GR4 for the UK Royal Air Force, and to clear requested enhancements to the KC-30A version flown by the Royal Australian Air Force. Both should be resolved this year, Carrasco says.