AirTanker has introduced its sixth Airbus A330 Voyager tanker/transport for the UK, and secured a key approval before using the type to deliver personnel and equipment to the Falkland Islands from later this year.
Modified as a KC3-model three-point tanker, aircraft ZZ335 touched down at the Royal Air Force's Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire in late June. It joins four other Voyagers for use by the service's 10 Sqn, plus another which is retained on the UK civilian register for air transport tasks only.
Being delivered via the UK's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft programme, the Voyager capability will grow to comprise a core fleet of nine A330s by May 2014, with the next three airframes already in conversion at Airbus Military's Getafe site, near Madrid, Spain. An eventual total of 14 airframes will be supplied.
Meanwhile, the company secured extended twin engine operations (ETOPS) clearance on 28 June from the UK Civil Aviation Authority for its civilian-registered Voyager, for a maximum of 3h. "This clearance is part of AirTanker's preparations to start the Falkland Island air bridge for the UK MoD [Ministry of Defence] from the autumn of 2013," it says.
"It is expected that the RAF will gain ETOPS clearance in line with the Military Aviation Authority before the end of the year," says AirTanker.