Qantas Airways will return two Airbus A330-200 aircraft to CIT Aerospace by the end of the year, pending their conversion to multi-role tanker transports (MRTT) for the Royal Australian Air Force.

The two airliners bear the registrations VH-EBH (MSN 892) and VH-EBI (MSN 898), says Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD). They will eventually be converted to KC-30As (the RAAF designation for the A330 MRTT) at Airbus Defence and Space’s Getafe, Spain facility, for delivery to the RAAF in 2018.

The DoD confirms that it will assume full ownership of the converted jets.

Qantas says VH-EBH has stopped flying and will be returned to CIT on 21 July. VH-EBI will cease operating in September and be returned to CIT on 20 November.

Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database shows that both jets are powered by General Electric CF6 engines – similar to the RAAF’s existing five KC-30As. VH-EBH was handed over to Qantas in January 2008, and VH-EBI one month later.

Flightglobal Ascend pegs the full-life valuation of each aircraft at $61.7 million.

Airbus says this is the first incidence of in-service A330-200s being converted to the MRTT tanker standard. The work will see the installation of hose and drogue refueling pods under the the aircraft’s wings, a refuelling boom, and other military equipment.

“The two extra aircraft for RAAF were exceptional due to their wish to use basic airframes of a specification very close to their existing fleet, and these two Qantas airframes were available,” says Airbus. “There is no proposal to convert used aircraft for any other customer.”

When contacted by Flightglobal, CIT and Airbus were unable to provide details as to when the aircraft will change hands, but Airbus says an MRTT conversion takes 10-12 months.

According to a DoD statement, the value of the transaction is worth A$408 million ($314 million).

Including the two aircraft due to be returned to CIT, Qantas has 27 A330s: 17 -200s and 10 -300s.

Source: Cirium Dashboard