Tag Archives: A330

New European tankers one step closer

The Netherlands is ready to purchase two Airbus tanker/transport aircraft with Luxembourg, Dutch Defense minister Hennis Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert announced on Thursday 28 July.  The aircraft will be NATO property and will be stationed at Eindhoven airbase in the Netherlands for pooling and sharing. Belgium, Germany, Norway and Poland intend to join the agreement at a later date.

The purchase of the MRTT A330 type aircraft is an important step in filling the notorious European tanker gap. Compared to the US, European nations individually and combined have very limited air-to-air refuelling capabilities.

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is closely involved in the purchase of the aircraft. Luxembourg and the Netherlands will have exclusive user rights. In addition to the purchase, the MRTT project also covers maintenance and operational deployment. The Netherlands leads the multinational collaboration project.

The new aircraft will be registered in the Netherlands and stationed at Eindhoven airbase, as reported previously here at Airheadsfly.com.  A study will be carried out to determine whether European Air Transport Command, which is also stationed in Eindhoven, will be able to supervise the MRTT pool.

Costs and personnel will be allocated on the basis of the number of flying hours that each country needs. The expected life span of the fleet is 30 years and the investment budget is between €250 million EUR and 1 billion EUR.

Expansion

The Netherlands and Luxembourg recorded the agreement in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The contract with Airbus was signed today. If Belgium, Germany, Norway and Poland decide to take part in the agreement, both the MoU and the quotation given by Airbus allow for expansion. If more countries do indeed decide to join, the design costs will be shared with these countries too, leading to lower costs for Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The number of A330 MRTT aircraft to be purchased could eventually rise to 8.

Collaboration

The 2 participating countries are examining the possibility of collaboration with France and the UK, among others, in relation to training and instruction as well as maintenance. France is set to receive its first A330 aircraft in 2018. The UK already has A330 MRTTs in service.

The 2 aircraft will be delivered from 2020. In the same year, the Royal Netherlands Air Force will start to gradually decommission its current two KDC-10 aircraft.

Press Play | Looking for more tankers in European skies

Where’s a gas station when you need it? That’s exactly what’s going in the minds of a Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) KDC-10 crew as they look for the French C-135 Stratotanker that should be flying somewhere ahead of them. Seconds later, they find the French aircraft and move in closer. It’s an obvious metaphor for closing the infamous European tanker gap. The solution comes in two shapes: the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and the Airbus A400M.

Over the North Sea and to the crew of the KDC-10, that’s all distant music. As participants in the European Air Refuelling Training (EART) at Eindhoven airbase in the Netherlands, they have just finished air-to-air refuelling (AAR) twelve F-16s that take part in action packed exercise Frisian Flag 2016. Somewhere ahead and beneath them, the French KC-135 also just finished refuelling fighter jets, as did the German Airbus A310 that’s also nearby.

Goal

That’s three air-to-air refuellers in the same patch of sky, a sight not often seen as tanker aircraft are usually hard to find in Europe. The overall goal of EART is to improve flexability, efficiency and effectiveness of the combined tanker force of all zeven nations (the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, France, Spain and Italy) that handed command over their assets over to the European Air Transport Command (EATC). From Eindhoven airbase in the Netherlands,  EATC commands  19 tanker aircraft of various types from all seven nations. That number equals 65 percent of all AAR platforms available in Europe.

Airbus A400M

Compared to the hundreds of air refuelling aircraft available to the US, the European numbers fall far short, hence the ‘tanker gap’. However, that gap may soon be a thing of the past, given the increasing number of Airbus A400M available to France and Germany, plus Spain and Belgium in the near future. By 2025, EATC should have 80 or so A400Ms at its disposal, with roughly 40 air refuelling kits available for those aircraft. The new Airbus aircraft has been involved in AAR tests.

(Image © Vincent Kok)
Two F-16s taking part in Frisian Flag 2016 join up prior to refuelling. (Image © Vincent Kok)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Polish F-16 is about to move into position behind the KDC-10. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
Participants of the European Air Refuelling Training (EART) on the tarmac at Eindhoven airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

MRTT

Moreover, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg and Poland are on course to jointly buy and operate the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). During EART, it emerged that a Memorandum of Understanding is to be signed during the NATO summit in July in Warsaw, with a contract for three or four aircraft to be signed that same month during the Farnborough Airshow.

The shared pool should grow to eight Airbus A330 MRTTs eventually. Belgium, Germany and Spain have already expressed interest in particpating in the program as well.

Harmonize

“EATC has been asked to harmonize A400M and A330 MRTT operations in the future”, says Colonel Jurgen van der Biezen, a RNLAF-delegate to the joint European command in Eindhoven. “What we are looking for, is an air-to-air refuelling hub that is very similar in operation to the European Heavy Airlift Wing operating from Hungary.”

Introducing the A400M and A330 MRTT as tankers increases EATC’s refuelling fleet to 69 assets, equal to 82 percent of all similar capacity in Europe. It’s a signifant increase compared to today’s situation, an increase that enables European nations to support their own – plus each other’s – operations.

It’s an idea that gets the thumbs up from all within EATC, just like the thumbs up shown by the crew of a Dutch KDC-10 tanker over the North Sea. They successfully performed some formation flying with the other two tankers in the same patch of sky. After leaving the formation, they are on their own again. But with a different feeling this time. There are others out there.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Video filming, editing and © Vincent Kok – Orange Avenue Filmworks
Featured image: On the look out for tankers over the North Sea. (Image © Vincent Kok)

A RNLAF F-16 pilot gives the thumbs up. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A RNLAF F-16 pilot gives the thumbs up. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
More customers for the Dutch KDC-10. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
More customers for the Dutch KDC-10. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Polish F-16 sneaks up on the KDC-10 from behind. (Image © Vincent Kok)
A Polish F-16 sneaks up on the KDC-10 from behind. (Image © Vincent Kok)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
A French C-135 Stratotanker beging inspected prior to its next flight. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Iran goes big on Airbus – A380 included in deal

As reported earlier this week, Iran went shopping in Toulouse this week. The numbers announced on Thursday 28 January are even bigger than previously reported, however. Teheran ordered 118 aircraft in total: 45 single aisle airliners and 73 widebodies, 12 of those A380s.

Airbus released official numbers, showing 21 A320ceo, 24 A320neo family, 27 A330ceo, 18 A330neo, 16 A350-1000 and 12 A380 jets. The agreement includes pilot and maintenance training and support services to help the entry into service and efficient operations of these new aircraft.

Surprise

The purchase of A380 was mentioned as a future option or wish earlier, but the actual deal for the giant airliner is a big plus for Airbus and of course Iran, and a surprise for others. The end of economic sanctions provides Teheran with the opportunity to modernize the country’s fleet of ageing airliners.

Iranian visit

The agreements were signed at the Élysée Palace, Paris, during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s official visit to France with French President François Hollande.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The Airbus collection in flight. (Image © Airbus)

Airbus bags another major order

Airbus has bagged antoher major order, the latest in a series that leaves Boeing watching empty handed. This time, TAP Portugal signed a firm order for 53 airliners including 14 A330-900neo, 15 A320neo and 24 A321neos. The aircraft will join TAP Portugal’s fleet as part of its fleet renewal announced by the airline’s new majority owner Atlantic Gateway. As part of the agreement however, TAP Portugal is replacing its previous order of 12 A350-900s with the A330-900neo.

“Our latest order for 14 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft and 39 A320neo Family aircraft reflects our ongoing commitment to provide our customers with the next generation of fuel efficient aircraft,” said Fernando Pinto, TAP Portugal CEO. “The A330neo, like the A320neo Family, will give us the flexibility to enter new markets and improve the frequency of existing ones due to its combination of high reliability, low operating costs and exceptional comfort,” he added.

TAP Portugal is an all Airbus customer, currently operating 43 A320 Family aircraft and 18 Widebody Family aircraft.

Source: Airbus
Featured image: A computer rendering of a TAP Portugal A330-900neo. (Image © Airbus)

Chinese shopping spree at Airbus

China Aviation Supplies Holding Company has signed a General Terms Agreement (GTA) with Airbus for the acquisition of 30 A330 Family aircraft and 100 A320 Family aircraft. The 30 A330s are the firm up of the commitment signed in June 2015. The GTA was signed in Beijing by Li Hai, President and CEO of CAS, and Fabrice Brégier, President and CEO of Airbus, in the presence of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“We are grateful to CAS, one of our longest standing customers, for its continued confidence in Airbus and in the versatile A330 Family as well as the best-selling A320 Family,” said Fabrice Bregier, President and CEO of Airbus. “

With these 30 A330 options now firmed up, CAS’ total number of orders for the popular Airbus widebody is this year 75 aircraft. This strong demand in China for the A330 has been the key driver behind setting up production in China. The first agreements were signed by Airbus and Chinese partners in March 2014 and witnessed by French President Francois Hollande and visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping. A framework agreement was signed in July 2015 in Toulouse.

According to the Airbus global market forecast, China is leading the world in passenger growth. China’s domestic air traffic will become the world’s largest within the next 10 years, and traffic volumes will quadruple in the next 20 years. In the next 20 years, Airbus forecasts a demand in China for some 5,400 new passenger and freighter aircraft including 1,700 widebody aircraft like the A330, A350 and A380.

At present, the in-service Airbus fleet with Chinese operators comprises over 1,200 aircraft (over 1,000 A320 Family aircraft, over 160 A330 Family aircraft and five A380s as well as Airbus freighters and corporate jets).

Source: Airbus