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VC 10 to fly again as a tanker

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VC 10 to fly again as a tanker

Old 29th Aug 2020, 09:26
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Does the FAA 'Experimental' catagory allow the owners of said aircraft to operate the aircraft for profit, or for that matter remuneration ?
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Old 29th Aug 2020, 10:53
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Surely the Collins foundation does?
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Old 29th Aug 2020, 19:15
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Originally Posted by SpringHeeledJack View Post
Does the FAA 'Experimental' catagory allow the owners of said aircraft to operate the aircraft for profit, or for that matter remuneration ?
Yes.

There are multiple private operators of jet fighters in the USA - who charge for participation at Air Shows - whose aircraft are registered in the "Experimental" category - in particular multiple very nice looking F-86s.

There are also the F-104s of Starfighters Inc which provide "low-cost alternative to other active-duty military and NASA aircraft for avionics and electronic systems testing and validation, electronic warfare R&D, surveillance system testing, captive carry aerodynamic testing, high-G pilot/passenger physiology testing, and other military, Homeland Security, NASA, and contractor requirements".

Omega's tankers are also registered in the "Experimental" category.

Out of interest, I looked up the final version of the Multi-Award Contract [by definition more than one company] RFP the USN put out in 2020 to follow on from the existing Omega single source contract.

It had the following items in it which left the door open for both owners of existing converted tankers, and those who wanted to buy up surplus airliners and convert them, to bid:
---------------------------------

2.2.2 Aircraft Modification Plan

The Offeror shall provide an Aircraft Modification Plan for each aircraft proposed that requires major repairs and alterations (as defined by the FAA) to meet the requirements of the PWS paragraph 3.1.

The Offeror shall submit its plan detailing the major repairs and alterations required to bring the aircraft into airworthiness compliance.

Plans shall include all significant repairs and alterations required, major milestones (to include, but not limited to, FAA review and approval process and integration of AAR systems), the organization performing the repair and alterations(s), and FAA Administrator approved source data supporting the repairs or alterations.

2.3.1 Civil Airworthiness Certifications

The Offeror shall provide a valid FAA certificate of airworthiness or their plan to obtain a FAA certificate of airworthiness for each proposed aircraft.

2.3.2 Navy Airworthiness Certification Plan

Each aircraft under this contract will require a U.S. Navy issued Interim Flight Clearance (USN IFC).

The Offeror shall submit a plan detailing its approach to achieve issuance of a USN IFC, including original certification authority, supporting data and major milestones.

If submitted with the proposal, an active USN IFC for the proposed aircraft configuration satisfies this requirement.

2.3.3 Aircraft Modification Status Report

The Offeror shall demonstrate that the appropriate Aviation Authority (e.g. FAA, DGAC, TCAA, and CAA)or the appropriate military airworthiness authority certified each aircraft modification made to the proposed aircraft since its manufacture as airworthy. [the records for the Tristar and VC10 conversions will be available].

For each modification, the Offeror shall provide a copy of the airworthiness certification or, alternatively, the engineering report that clearly demonstrates that the modified aircraft is airworthy.
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2.3.4 Maintenance History Report

The Offeror shall demonstrate how it will maintain each aircraft proposed in accordance with the requirements established by the OEM Manufacturer and approved by the appropriate Aviation Authority (e.g. FAA, DGAC,
TCAA, and CAA) or the appropriate military airworthiness authority.

The Offeror shall include for each aircraft proposed a summary of the aircraft's maintenance history similar to the requirements of 14 CFR §91.415 and §91.417.

The Offeror shall identify and explain any lapses in the documented maintenance history of any aircraft proposed, from the time of aircraft manufacture to proposal submittal.

3.1.1 Airworthiness Certification.

The Offeror shall demonstrate its understanding and direct experience and/or knowledge of airworthiness certification processes for US public use aircraft, and operations as a state aircraft, to include: establishing a certification pedigree based on previous airworthiness certifications (foreign and/or domestic) and providing documentation for subsequent approvals by a US government agency.

The Offeror shall provide a copy of their FAA or other foreign civil airworthiness certificates and the Offeror may include a Public Aircraft Operations (PAO) designation letter from a US Government or State authority, or US or foreign military airworthiness documentation (e.g. Interim Flight Clearance (IFC), Military Flight Release (MFR), Airworthiness Release (AWR)) signed by a US or foreign government authority.
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Bottom lines are:

Ex-military, already converted surplus tankers have a rock-solid history of how they were converted already documented - this gives them an edge over one-off conversions of the odd surplus airliner bought now which would have to have their tanker conversion method approved for airworthiness (on top of the lead time for conversion) - and depending on where they came from - may have a sketchy basic aircraft airworthiness documentation history.

There is no doubt there is going to be a small market for contractors with the USN until such time as that requirement might be subsumed by a larger US TRANSCOM managed contract - years ahead depending on the outcome of the ongoing studies of the several options and the lead time for suitably large players to get involved - Boeing are busy enough on the KC-46A with all its problems and the Airbus production line for turning an A330 into an A330 MRTT is tied up for the next 4 years already with orders already on the books.


Commercial considerations will be the cost of getting stored aircraft up to current airworthiness standards vs the cost of acquisition of surplus airliners + tanker conversion.

The USN has already stated that "time on type" requirements can be met entirely in the simulator. Northrop has a Tristar simulator for its Stargazer aircraft and the VC10 simulators have already been mentioned.

There is a huge difference between the cost a contractor would have to charge per minute on task to use a $300M A330-MRTT versus a "back-in-the-air" legacy tanker - those capable of making the right calculations will know exactly how much money they would have to throw at an option to make it work for them.

I quite expect some of the Red Air contractors - who currently have just limited AAR capability with a few buddy buddy pods - to expand into the space with the acquisition of transport aircraft size tankers.

It's going to be interesting to see what transpires over the next few years - indeed the next 30 years until the final solution to replacing the US DoD legacy tanker fleet by whatever mix is decided upon eventually comes to fruition.

Last edited by RAFEngO74to09; 29th Aug 2020 at 19:26.
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Old 29th Aug 2020, 19:30
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Just looked up Northrop's Stargazer L-1011 Tristar and it is registerd in the "Standard - Transport" category - despite it being the only example currently flying in the USA.

https://registry.faa.gov/AircraftInq...umbertxt=140SC

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Old 30th Aug 2020, 08:55
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If the VC10K is dismantled and transferred to the US for reassembly, it could perhaps fly again. But as for flying in UK airspace - zero chance.

Then there is the slight problem of F-35B/C compatibility clearance trials.

As for setting up the centreline HDU - good luck with that!

Some ex-airline A330s given a 'light' AAR modification programme in the same manner that the A310MRTT was converted would surely be a better plan?
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Old 30th Aug 2020, 14:01
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Why? If it is put on the US register it may be able to ferry, the Shack did.
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Old 30th Aug 2020, 16:34
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The Tristars are already on the US register. Clearly nobody is going to dismantle a VC-10 !

Tankers for the USN contract do not have to have an HDU - just at least 2 x underwing pods or 2 x HDUs for redundancy on a tasking.

Receiver clearances are in priority groups - with F/A-18 first - with bidders required to estimate times and costs to get up and running. There are specific payments available to get to IOC

I do see someone buying up the 4 x Luftwaffe A310 MRTT when they are up to speed with their new plot. They have already got the A400M MRTT doing the part of the role and delivery of the NATO A330 MRTT fleet is planned to be complete by end-2024.

https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_177484.htm
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Old 30th Aug 2020, 22:04
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So who certifies this a/c to be airworthy now before it goes onto the US register? The CAA? The MAA? ANother? Or doesn't it matter?
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Old 31st Aug 2020, 01:10
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FAA if it’s going on their register.

https://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cer.../aw_cert_proc/



On smaller stuff in the U.K. the Certificate of Airworthiness is none expiring, but is only valid with an Airworthiness Review Certificate, so if the CAA hasn’t withdrawn the C of A for any reason, it would be down to me as a CAMO, I would inspect the aircraft and paperwork, deem what is required to put it back in the air, ensure the work is carried out or do it myself and then when satisfied issue an ARC to revalidate the C of A and send a copy in to the CAA.
You just have to be careful to not miss anything component life wise or AD’s etc.

What rank do you have to hold in the RAF these days to be a CAMO?


..

Last edited by NutLoose; 31st Aug 2020 at 01:33.
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Old 31st Aug 2020, 01:28
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Originally Posted by RAFEngO74to09 View Post
KC-10A 86-0036 had 33,000 flying hours on it when it was retired.
Pardon my ignorance, but 33.000 seems well below a reasonable number of hours to warrant retirement. Any specifics on the mission pattern that would bat the airframe so hard?

BF
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Old 31st Aug 2020, 01:42
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It might not be the hours, but landings or pressure cycles as well, when I left the RAF VC 10 C1,s didn’t have that high a number of hours on them, but they had a heck of a lot of landings.. they were designed to fly high and long routes with landings at each end, but the RAF in my eyes used to do a lot of training in them which were shorter lower trips with lots of circuits and bumps, something they were not really designed to do.
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Old 31st Aug 2020, 02:07
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Why US TRANSCOM is considering a contractor provided element of the overall task.

rom the Congressional Report I posted:

"Affordability: Each solution has unique cost considerations resulting from the contractor selected, aircraft modifications required, operations, airworthiness, and USAF receiver air refueling testing. Based on initial feedback from industry (summer 2019), the estimated price per flying hour for commercial contract air refueling ranged from $15K- $27K, which includes operations and maintenance and does not include the cost of fuel. For a comparison, in 2019 the Ownership Cost per flying hour (which includes the cost of the fuel) of the KC-10 was approximately $23K per flying hour and the KC-135 was approximately $26K. The Ownership Cost of the KC-46 was $98K per flying hour for the first year of operations (cost per flying hour projections for KC-46 will decrease as the program progresses to steady state). The cost of ownership for each airframe does not consider the cost of military personnel training that is comparatively included within industry's cost per hour. Subject to insurance and contractor malfeasance, the USAF may be responsible for all or most of the liability to third parties, loss of or damage to contractor provided aircraft ("hull" liability) and loss of or damage to USAF property. In order to fully understand all components of cost, liability, and affordability, further analysis is required before initiating any contractual arrangements with service providers."
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Old 31st Aug 2020, 02:16
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Originally Posted by Broomstick Flier View Post
Pardon my ignorance, but 33.000 seems well below a reasonable number of hours to warrant retirement. Any specifics on the mission pattern that would bat the airframe so hard?

BF
The hours are actually irrelevant - I only mentioned them as they appeared in the PR about the first KC-10 retirement. The primary reason the KC-10s are going first is that it is a much smaller fleet than the KC-135 variants (including special mission types), the KC-135s are having multiple upgrades and some are still likely to be flying in 2050.

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zon...-glass-cockpit


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Old 31st Aug 2020, 06:26
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Even if ferried out of UK on FAA registry, the UK CAA has to approve it and they will pull the Special Flight Permit apart before they give approval.
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Old 31st Aug 2020, 08:11
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Originally Posted by NutLoose View Post
FAA if it’s going on their register.

https://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cer.../aw_cert_proc/



On smaller stuff in the U.K. the Certificate of Airworthiness is none expiring, but is only valid with an Airworthiness Review Certificate, so if the CAA hasn’t withdrawn the C of A for any reason, it would be down to me as a CAMO, I would inspect the aircraft and paperwork, deem what is required to put it back in the air, ensure the work is carried out or do it myself and then when satisfied issue an ARC to revalidate the C of A and send a copy in to the CAA.
You just have to be careful to not miss anything component life wise or AD’s etc.

What rank do you have to hold in the RAF these days to be a CAMO?..
Thanks for that Nutty, so as CAMO you would certify that this VC-10 is airworthy or not for the FAA? How would you know, given that various RAF a/c and systems featuring in airworthiness related fatal air accident threads here were operating under illegal RTS's or lacking a Safety Case? I'm quite sure that those responsible for declaring those a/c as serviceable for their final flights had no idea that they were unairworthy, so how would a CAMO know?

If this is 'larger stuff', and dealt with alone by the FAA, same question. How would they know?
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Old 31st Aug 2020, 11:23
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Originally Posted by Chugalug2 View Post
Thanks for that Nutty, so as CAMO you would certify that this VC-10 is airworthy or not for the FAA? How would you know, given that various RAF a/c and systems featuring in airworthiness related fatal air accident threads here were operating under illegal RTS's or lacking a Safety Case? I'm quite sure that those responsible for declaring those a/c as serviceable for their final flights had no idea that they were unairworthy, so how would a CAMO know?

If this is 'larger stuff', and dealt with alone by the FAA, same question. How would they know?
Chug, no, he wouldn’t. We are talking VC10 here. I am thinking that he has actually done this for nothing more complex than a 172.


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Old 31st Aug 2020, 11:28
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The reality is that the VC10 last flew about 7 years ago. They have been left to rot outside in what the US regards as a maritime atmosphere. They have certainly not been carefully stored. They have seen years of military service and abuse. Going through the paperwork, if it can all even be found, would be an interesting exercise. Each one of them will be at a different configuration. Good luck with that.

It will also be very interesting to see how the approach taken by the FAA has changed in the post 737-Max world, and of course the views of other state regulators to these aircraft.

Anyone thinking there is a realistic chance of the VC10 ever flying again is either a fool or just plain stupid.
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Old 31st Aug 2020, 13:29
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Originally Posted by BEagle View Post
If the VC10K is dismantled and transferred to the US for reassembly, it could perhaps fly again. But as for flying in UK airspace - zero chance.

Then there is the slight problem of F-35B/C compatibility clearance trials.

As for setting up the centreline HDU - good luck with that!

Some ex-airline A330s given a 'light' AAR modification programme in the same manner that the A310MRTT was converted would surely be a better plan?
Didn’t the MRTT programme come about because (earlier?) A330 wings were also A340 wings and already had suitably strong lumps of metal already in the wing for bolting engine pylons to, these being ideal for AAR hose pods? There could be a large pool of civil donor aircraft just waiting to be snapped up...

On the assumption that no idea is too crazy to be voiced, how about converting A340s back to something like an A330 MRTT (chop out some fuselage, drop the centre undercarriage, unbolt two engines and saw off the two outboard throttle levers in the cockpit)? There’s a bucket load of A340s falling out of favour, and they’re probably very cheap. I presume that Airbus would be unlikely to sanction such mods, preferring to sell new examples...



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Old 31st Aug 2020, 14:30
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Originally Posted by Chugalug2 View Post
Thanks for that Nutty, so as CAMO you would certify that this VC-10 is airworthy or not for the FAA? How would you know, given that various RAF a/c and systems featuring in airworthiness related fatal air accident threads here were operating under illegal RTS's or lacking a Safety Case? I'm quite sure that those responsible for declaring those a/c as serviceable for their final flights had no idea that they were unairworthy, so how would a CAMO know?

If this is 'larger stuff', and dealt with alone by the FAA, same question. How would they know?
Nope, one, the FAA is a different kettle of fish and will cover it themselves.... two, as ex military having various modifications to the civilian airframe, the FAA will i would imagine will want to be involved in depth, especially as it will not have had a Certificate of Airworthiness issued, I would imagine they will want to survey the aircraft. my best guess is engines and PFCU's etc would be a major concern, in the RAF we would do anti det runs every 28 days on the engines, although it is ran and fast taxied etc, one wonders how regular they have been ran, when they flew the ones out of Abingdon they swopped out those with flight ready engines and PFCU's then ferried them gear down, unpressurised while paying the crews megga bucks for the short hop to Filton. Myself I do twins down these days.
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Old 31st Aug 2020, 14:37
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Doesn't seem to make sense to me. For one single airplane? Who'd still have spare parts and certified staff today? Nothing against the mighty VC-10 but it's glory days are long gone. Better convert some cheapo used A310 or similar. Plans available.
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