Flying to far-off parts of the world for U.K. forces should get a little more comfortable with the introduction of the Airbus A330s operated by AirTanker.
The consortium, which was chosen to operate the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft fleet, recently received its Air Operators Certificate from the civil authorities allowing it to fly passengers on its civilian-registered Airbus A330 -- known as Voyager in the RAF. The company was given approvals on Jan. 5 following a proving flight to Reykjavik, Iceland. Since then it has flown its first passengers on services to Cyprus.
The company has a full-complement of cabin crew for the services as the image taken at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus shows. Onboard, passengers can enjoy TV programs and movies on the inflight entertainment system configured to be displayed on screens above the seats. The arrangement is necessary to allow the aircraft to be quickly re-configured for aero-medical missions.
The interior is a far cry from that experienced by passengers on the RAF's Vickers VC-10s and Lockheed L-1011 Tristars and considerably more comfortable than trooping flights on Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Boeing C-17 Globemasters.
AirTanker currently has three A330s in its fleet, two aircraft equipped for tanker operations and a single standard Airbus A330. Three more aircraft are expected to join the Brize Norton-based fleet by mid-2013 and the consortium hopes to be cleared to conduct air-to-air refueling with the Voyagers in the near future.