Qantas Defence Services is close to completing the conversion of Australia's fifth, and final, Airbus Military A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).

The aircraft will be handed over to Airbus Military next week, with the European company to install the aerial refuelling boom, says Qantas Aviation Services head Glenn Brown. Qantas Defence Services is a unit of Qantas Aviation Services.

Industry sources in Australia suggest the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will not obtain a sixth A330 MRTT, which is designated the KC-30A in RAAF service.

Brown says that it would be very difficult for Qantas Defence Services to re-start the A330 MRTT conversion programme. Some contractors who worked on the programme have already moved on to other work within the Qantas Group or at other companies.

Such staff changes will cause a degree of institutional knowledge related to A330 MRTT conversions to be lost.

Moreover, other team members who worked on the conversions will move to other work. Last week, Qantas Airways said it would close its Boeing 737 maintenance operations at Melbourne's Tullarmrine Airport, with this work moving to Brisbane.

Brown, however, says that personnel who worked on the conversion programme have a "bright future." Aside from supporting KC-30A maintenance repair and overhaul work in Brisbane, staff previously involved in conversion work will also help with 737 work.

Airbus Military has previously said the fifth A330 MRTT would be delivered to the RAAF in the third quarter of 2012.

Separately, Brown said that Qantas Defence Services has submitted a proposal to the RAAF for the conversion of four Lockheed Martin C-130H aircraft which could be donated to Indonesia.

Brown says "tripartite talks" are underway between Australia, Indonesia, and the United States about these aircraft. Australia obtained the aircraft under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) mechanism, and needs US clearance for the Indonesian transaction to take place.

Source: Flight International