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-   -   Ageing air transport aircraft.... (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/362741-ageing-air-transport-aircraft.html)

BEagle 18th Feb 2009 13:19

Ageing air transport aircraft....
From the Witney Gazette:

Troops stuck at Brize
9:28am Wednesday 18th February 2009

By Matt Wilkinson

Hundreds of troops are stuck at an airbase in Oxfordshire following “technical malfunctions” on two RAF planes.

Soldiers and Marines heading out to Helmand Province, in Afghanistan, on board a Tristar troop carrier returned to base at RAF Brize Norton twice yesterday, only hours into their flight.

Hundreds more hoping for a return trip are stuck in Kandahar in Afghanistan because of an aircraft fault.

Investigations into both Tristar plans have begun and Press Association is reporting up to 1,000 troops may be affected.

Flt Lt ( ), duty air movements officer at Brize Norton, said: “The aircraft suffered a technical malfunction that is under investigation.

“An aircraft going out and returning on this schedule is very unusual."

“We do problems but generally speaking the air bridge is a success.”

He said the Tristar grounded at Kandahar was also being investigated for a fault but was available for “tasking”.

It is believed a flights are due to restart later today.

The Ministry of Defence was unavailable to comment

“An aircraft going out and returning on this schedule is very unusual." Did he really mean to say that nowadays it is 'very unusual' for RAF AT aircraft to depart or arrive on schedule? Because that's how it reads.....:uhoh:

Good luck to the aircrews and groundcrews keeping these aged jets flying - I'm sure you're doing the best you can with the resource available and I just hope that the passengers realise that.

gijoe 18th Feb 2009 13:49

Ditto BEagle.

As a regular commuter over the last 2 years it has become more and more evident that the jets are past their 'best before', let alone 'use before', date. The crews do a very good job given the tools.

If the government follows Obama's lead and up the no of players what is the plan?


microlight AV8R 18th Feb 2009 16:34

Six BA 757s available very soon. Lease them for troping and keep AAR Tristars for AAR only. Non AAR Tristars for spares, retire VC-10.

Buy more C130J and don't fart about trying to resurrect the older C130s.

When A400M comes along, adapt some C130Js as tankers, retire Tristar.

In the meantime, ask allies to help with AAR when we have shortfall. Likewise for heavy lift.

If they don't want to help, that defines our limitations and we should not deploy toops in hot places beyond that point of capability.

Oh yes, cancel that stupid PFI AAR/AT nonsense.

Summarise: Cut suit according to cloth. The purse is empty.

Data-Lynx 18th Feb 2009 16:56

Local Radio
BBC Oxford local radio reported this afternoon that the two returns to BZZ were particulalry unfortunate because this outbound T* had onboard the spare for the bird in theatre.

gar170 18th Feb 2009 17:01


Good luck to the aircrews and groundcrews keeping these aged jets flying - I'm sure you're doing the best you can with the resource available and I just hope that the passengers realise that.
And good luck to the Movers who have to face the ones that don't.Some might think that we have a modern Airforce.

hello1 18th Feb 2009 19:31

cancel that stupid PFI AAR/AT nonsense
Pity about the little matter of the contract with Air Tanker!:ok:

brit bus driver 18th Feb 2009 19:40

Sadly BA needs good hard cash, not an IOU from the one-eyed idiot from north of the border. I think they already have a home for the 757s.

What is needed is a reliable interim solution, ideally with an Airbus or three on which the crews can cut their teethe prior to FSTA. I assume that UK plc is now legally bound by the PFI? If not, can it and buy the hardware.

Any interim solution has to be cheaper than keeping the VC10 in the air for the next 5 years.

collbar 18th Feb 2009 20:34

The RAF should stop cocking about with the T* and use the Charter/C-17 option.

Redcarpet 18th Feb 2009 20:43


How many C-17s to transport 250 pax and how many charter Jets have DASS ? Simple fact is that the AT fleet and Brit Mil in general are under resourced, under funded and under manned.

brit bus driver 18th Feb 2009 20:52

But the C-17s are working their t!ts off as it is, without picking up the pax loads as well. There's no easy/cheap answer but the decision makers in their ivory towers need to pull their finger out sharpish. FSTA was being 'planned' over 10 years ago and it's still 5 years away. C17 was what, 12 (18?) months flash to bang? Dry lease some Airbus now, train the crews (plenty of spare sim time out there at the moment, plus a bit of Airbus experience who may have a little spare time on their hands?), stick the T*s in Akronelli and run a hub & spoke.

Pay for it with the money saved by retiring the VC10, with the Tri* and A.N.Other solution picking up the towlines. AAR shortfall? Who cares in the short term.


brit bus driver 18th Feb 2009 21:30

Just watching this on the local news. Once again, it's not the 'ageing TriStar' that's failed, but the DAS - again! Another well thought out UOR....support, what support.

rolandpull 19th Feb 2009 06:20

I hear the standard answer to how long left in theater is ' xx days and a Tristar' The Tristar being the variable.

Seems to me part of the burden is the R&R bridge back to blighty. What might be useful is a Pontin's/beach in Oman that is Herkable. Maybe......

Pete268 19th Feb 2009 07:26

As someone who was serving when the 'new' Tri* entered service way back in the 1980's, I had a very pleasant flight home as an indulgee on one, still resplendent in BA colours with a BA crew. Unfortunately I later had to be aeromedded back to the UK on one, by then in shiny RAF colours (there was a surprising amount of leg room on a stretcher). Hence, twenty something years later I am somewhat surprised to find these aircraft are still flying with the RAF.

I, even then, remember that the VC10 was regarded as 'old' and am even more surprised to find they are still in use. It wouldn't be a surprise to find we still have the Belfast in service at this rate.

Anyway, if it is not a military secret, how many of the nine Tri* have we still left in service?. Any how many VC10's still fly the pax backwards to their destinations?.

I really do feel sorry for those still serving in that they have to rely on what are now surely museum pieces, in order to travel to/from operational theatres. I feel a letter to my MP will shortly be dispatched (again).


SirToppamHat 19th Feb 2009 08:50

Extracts from an item in the current issue of Private Eye (1230 dated 2 Feb-5 Mar 2009):

Transport of no delight

The pisspoor state of the RAF's air transport aircraft has long been a major complaint for service personnel deployed on ops...

...the ancient Tristars of 216 Squadron are grounded so often they have been nicknamed the "Brize Norton Static Display Team" by irate squaddies.

...return flights...regularly delayed by 36-48 hours...those coming back to the UK for some precious leave often find that 25 percent of their time off is spent on the ground at airports.


BEagle 19th Feb 2009 11:00

How we chortled when the civil serpent talking about FSTA announced "This programme will NOT slip to the right!"

That was sometime last century.

Not long after the time we were told that 'FLA' (which became A400M) was to have an in-service date of 2004....and that the RAF would replace all TriStars and VC10s with '25-30 Multi-role tanker transports'. At a rate of around 4 a/c per year with a 50% fleet achieved in around 2007-8.....

I think there's an old Comet which still runs up at Bruntingthorpe - perhaps that could be refurbished?

There are around 8 A310-300s for sale around the world. Someone should take a serious look at them as interim tanker-transports, now that A400M has been delayed until heaven knows when......

Doctor Cruces 19th Feb 2009 11:25

We're broke, Beags, and the relatively invisible spend on keeping old crocks flying is more politically acceptable to Broon and his ilk (and predecessors)than an announcement in the press that we've spent millions on buying new aeroplanes instead of sticking it in the pockets of the great unwashed (and bankers). Won't buy as many votes either.


Doc C

Miles Magister 19th Feb 2009 11:28

There are a few more old comets up at Kinloss that desparately need refurbishing.

Biggles225 19th Feb 2009 11:31

My God Beags, don't you realise that to buy the A310s would take actual folding money? The b :mad: s lent it all to the banks and can't even borrow it back!
I can remember when the mighty moonship was queen of the skies, never mind the T*!!

Roadster280 19th Feb 2009 12:18

It's often quoted that to keep the VC10s in the air is MASSIVELY expensive.

What exactly (if not classified) is the source of this? Of course there's direct (such as fuel) and indirect (crew training & pay etc) costs.

I know the engines are old and thirsty, but how much more fuel efficient is an A330 vs the same lift in a VC10? Say moving 650 men 4000 miles.

Are the spares having to be specially manufactured? Tyres? I can't imagine RR have 50 x Conways in the stores, so I'm thinking they have to be rebuilt, but is that much more expensive than rebuilding a Trent? Much more frequent?

I'm not advocating keeping the 10s, just trying to understand what the costs (comparatively) are.

brit bus driver 19th Feb 2009 13:58

Using Calgary as a representative destination (3760nm):

You need (conservatively) 6 x VC10 to move 650 troops; 2 x A330s would do it (with room to spare).

The VC10 would needs to do it in 2 legs.

Thus, 12 x VC10 cycles vs 4 x A330 cycles. There is a cost associated with that.

Fuel costs. VC10 circa 7 tonnes an hour; A330 about 6 tonnes an hour.

So, 2 x A330 @ 6 tonnes/hour, times 8 hrs (3760nm @ M0.80 still air) = 96 tonnes.

6 x VC10 @ 7 tonnes/hour x 9 hrs (extra time to go via Goose) = 378 tonnes.

At today's fuel prices
http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/economics/fuel_monitor/index.htm that works out at just over $40,000 for the 330 solution and just shy of $165,000 for the VC10.

This is without factoring in the HOTAC for the delayed pax, spares provision, additional T&S for the multitude of crew etc etc.

It is a no-brainer.:ugh:

KeepItTidy 19th Feb 2009 13:59

Well got to agree with Dr Cruces on this one , we have to make do with what we have , there is no spare money in the pot,there is no other way to put it. its wrong and I agree with all but this is the same throughout the air force and at ISK its no different.

brit bus driver 19th Feb 2009 17:02


I agree that the train set is seriously broken, other than at the FJ ponity end of course, but apathy is our greatest enemy. To simply 'make do' is not right. Frankly, this needs the PM to have some bloody balls and make the funds available.

Btw, what is the latest figure from DSCOM for the annual charter budget?

And the annual maintenance cost per VC10?

If there is nothing to be done but accept the status quo, please have SecState take out a full page ad in every national paper explaining the situation, such that Mrs Miggins is at least given the heads up that there is no plan to improve the chances of her son getting home on time for the next five years. Out of interest, I wonder what he promised at today's meeting in Krakow.

This shouldn't bother me any more, but somehow it does.

Skilly 19th Feb 2009 18:50

Thanks for doing the sums, I've always wondered how much it cost to do a run to Calgary. As for the extras etc it truly is shocking, I was always suspicious of the up front drivers when we always seemed to break down in Washington on the way back from Belize and actually on the tarmac at Calgary.

That Calgary breakdown cost the MOD a fortune in hotels, Pay per view movies, food etc but for some reason they insisted on flying the spares from Brize on another T* rather than paying $10,000 Canadian for the part from a maintenance company across the runway.

14greens 19th Feb 2009 19:18

Been mentioned in an earlier post so not saying anything out of order, but both events were caused by DAS problems rather than Aircraft issues! its high profile so it will get mentioned, you would have same problems with any platform with a DAS bolted on as an afterthought!!! So kicks the Ageing jet theory in to touch in this case, as its the newest bit of kit on the jet thats had the problem! the frames do have problems, but any frame does! of course the C17 never breaks down! or is it when it does it does not get mentioned or does not effect so many people in 1 go like a full TriMotor

Why turn back when it has a fault? bloody obvious the answer to that.

Why not hub and spoke as was always the plan in the past, send the multi mover to a safe airfield and then swap platform and spoke in to theatre and direct to where they need to go, or close anyhow, that way need or DAS on the people mover would not be as critical!!!
And would not have to be Akronelli,

Lou Scannon 19th Feb 2009 22:21

Some months ago a Government Minister was rabbiting on about the pollution caused by civil aviation. Being an ex trucker who flew your C130's back in the 60's I felt obliged to write to the Times.

I pointed out that he was effectively on the board of the most polluting airline in the West. The fact that it was called the transport fleet of the RAF was hardly an excuse and he should put his own house in order before criticising the civvies.

The suggestion to grab some of the spare 757/767's and put them into service would seem to solve his problem.

The airlines could run the training course at minimum cost and time.

Lord Elpus 19th Feb 2009 22:23

Brit Bus Driver:

The following is a few years old and all approximate figures, however, it gives you an idea.

Costs in thousands per Flying hour:
Tristar: c 16K
VC-10: c 23K
C-17: c 40K

Major Servicing: VC10= several million!!!!! I heard 3-4 M be willing to be corrected on this.

TRI, rumoured to be in the 0.75-1.25 Million dependant on whom you are talking to.

C-17 I do not know!

On the above figures, you have to ask what does the VC10 bring to the party to justify the above costs? Surely the money saved from scrapping them immediately could be put into the A310/330 option mentioned previously?

Using the C17 on pax runs (even short hops) is a waste of valuable hours/cycles given its operationg costs?

As 14 Greens alludes to, there is no need to use AKT. The extra fuel in getting to/from AKT uses valuable resources in theatre. Use non DASS equipped jets to get the troops as close to theatre as poss, then use DASS equipped jets for the final leg to theatre?

What about Tristars doing UK-Gulf states, no need for DASS, therefore, allowing more DASS spares for other assets in theatre?

plasticAF 20th Feb 2009 01:42

currently civilian jets from up north go from BZZ to gulf states on PAX runs. Ok only able to carry about 200 and a bit. they fly beyond GWII land and could comfortably reach the Stan just not allowed to.

Regie Mental 20th Feb 2009 09:36

I was one of the pax who was delayed four days. I did not see anyone give either the crew or the movers a hard time. This was despite many returning on 14 days R and R or on end of tour who had family friends awaiting their return. It was frustrating reporting in for the same jet even though nobody had tried to fix it in the interim but that aside we understood the position.

dallas 20th Feb 2009 14:49

To be fair Regie, the airbridge aircraft are top priority, so any inaction would be a result of not having the necessary spares or perhaps expertise (in theatre) to hand. The difficulty is always somewhere in between briefing the pax in a timely manner, yet waiting long enough to provide a reasonable new report time before everyone bomb bursts - there's nothing more frustrating that stacking the pax for the day, to then find out it's only a 3hr fix.

Madbob 20th Feb 2009 18:10

With the state of the RAF's AT fleet and the lack of in-theatre "spokes" even C47 Dakotas would be useful additions.

Basler conversions with PT6's, modern commas and nav kit, DASS and you've got the fixed wing equivalent of a CH47 (ok it can't hover or VL) but they were built like trucks and could still be a useful asset at a fraction of the cost of a helo/C27/C130. If it's worth building new Twotters it could be worth starting with a few new DC3's/C47's........

You ought to get 4 sqns of Daks for the same cost as one sqn of Chinooks. Just think what flexibility that might offer......

411A 21st Feb 2009 01:32

Costs in thousands per Flying hour:
Tristar: c 16K
Exclusive of fuel and handling charges, our small airline charges $5600/hr for the 'ole Lockheed trimotor.
It can be maintained properly, and have superb dispatch reliability...all you have to have is folks who know how.

Good grief, is there not a Lockheed rep with the RAF now?
IF so, is he not listened to?

Sorry to barge into the military forum folks, but the 'ole trimotor is a fine aeroplane, IF maintained by folks who have a dedication to the job.

Tin hat on, awaiting incoming...:}

The Helpful Stacker 21st Feb 2009 06:07

Good grief, is there not a Lockheed rep with the RAF now?
IF so, is he not listened to?
From what I understand about such things (very little I'll freely admit) aren't 'modern' (and I'm including the Tristar in this) passenger aircraft designed to be operated almost constantly? As in, fly, land, disembark pax, fuel, embark pax, take-off, fly, etc, with minimal serious servicing required outside of minors/majors?

Isn't part of the problem with the RAF Tristar fleet the fact that even though they are used a hell of a lot they aren't operated at anything like the frequency that they were designed to be operated at by civil airlines, with the periods of relative idleness being what causes problems to appear?

Oh and yes, I'm aware that the recent instances of Tristars going U/S is down to the UOR kit rather than the airframes themselves, its just a shame some others haven't read the whole thread.

dallas 21st Feb 2009 07:41

I got chatting with a bloke a little while ago who was telling me he worked on 216 - I think he said he was a sooty. When I suggested it must be frustrating working with such a temperamental fleet, he said actually no, the majority of the techies loved working on the jet, and did their utmost to turn it for HERRICK trips.

Just as I was thinking what a perfect bloke he was to be working on 216 - or any RAF sqn - he said '...but I've PVRd and am out in 6 months'. Gobsmacked, I asked him why, and he said that, over the years, the RAF has expanded its engineering hierarchy to a point where the jet is over-serviced, particularly because IPTs and other special interest groups are constantly changing the rules, both to keep themselves in a job and/or simply appear to be doing something! He was leaving because he was fed-up being told to over-service the jet by people who didn't know the aircraft.

In some ways this makes sense - home base policy for a RAF Tristar requires the engineers to be given the jet for 8 hours between tasks, and that doesn't include any re-roles or Mover activity. It also confirms what I've thought for the past few years - the lack of any one person with an obvious plan has led to the dilution of frontline staff - by that I mean techies with dirty hands etc - in favour of more desks, policy writers, bureaucracy and current favourite study groups, many of whom only exacerbate the pinch by their absence from anything useful, while adding to the hurdles.

9.81m/s/s 21st Feb 2009 17:55

The C-17 is NOT a passenger aircraft. Yes it is capable of doing so but is categorically NOT a passenger aircraft.

That is all.

airfarce1 21st Feb 2009 21:36

I was in Kandahar at the time the T* was U/S. It wasnt DAS related, it was a big engineering fault though and it took quite a while to fix (even when the spare part did arrive.)

The Hub and spoke idea is a good one, except we dont have enought tac AT to do it. Its also extremely costly and manpower intensive, The americans do it at the moment - but hey guess what they have the ac. The MOD cant get passenger charter ac to go to kandahar direct. At the moment the T* is the best we have.

The best idea would be to follow the basic plan of the C17. They were bought as a stopgap between the present day and the A400M. Lets buy or lease 4 A330's, slap DAS on them (but get it done properly like on the C17) and use them. Retire the 10's and use the Tanker T* for AAR. The 3 remaining T* C2 should be able to manage the cyprus flights...... shouldnt they......

Also, isnt there two civvy T*'s sat at marshalls waiting for the MOD to buy them? Just a thought.

411A 21st Feb 2009 21:38

home base policy for a RAF Tristar requires the engineers to be given the jet for 8 hours between tasks...
If this were the case at the mob I work for, we certainly would absolutely not make a profit.
Looks like more than a few ah...less qualified, at the RAF airplane maintenance department.
Good grief...:*

glhcarl 22nd Feb 2009 01:44

Good grief, is there not a Lockheed rep with the RAF now?
IF so, is he not listened to?

Lockheed lost the TriStar support contract to Marshall in 2005.

I know when I was at Brize I had a real good rapport with both the engineering and maintenance staff.

One problem I did see when I was with the RAF was that they would not ulitized the rep away from Brize. I think it was an insurance problem with the RAF, not Lockheed as we had many reps in hot areas. If here was a problem away from Brize there was no hands on support, you had trouble shoot by faxes and phone calls.

14greens 22nd Feb 2009 02:33

Yep there was a TriStar at U/s in Kandahar last week, that was not wht the BBC repoting was about
Look at the airbidge! How often have you seen the jet sat on the ground bust in theatre, not often!
the issue discussed on this thread was the jet that turned round twice due to other issues!
The on on the ground did have a tech issue that requiered spares, and then fixing including all ath associated indies due to the snag! and its the sort of snag all aircraft have irrelevent of age

One day you never know we might see the positive reports of how many trips actually get out on time and not talking just about the TriMotor, oops thats not news is it? so what would be the point.
its annoying and yes upsetting for those that are effected but the crews and the techies on all the fleets have a pride in what they do and do all they can to get the job done

cazatou 22nd Feb 2009 09:44

Back in 1969 I was in a crew returning from a 3 week VIP tour of the Carribean when we went U/S in Bermuda with an inoperative fire warning on the Stbd Engine. BOAC signalled UK with the part number and the time of that evening's BOAC VC10 departure from Heathrow to Bermuda. We had the groundcrew to replace and test the system and would be able depart on schedule.

We were there for 5 days and departed 2 hrs after the 4th firewire sent out actually arrived. One of the missing firewires reappeared in S America some years later.

BEagle 22nd Feb 2009 11:51

Tales of the wrong bits of HM's shagged-out old jets being sent to the wrong parts of the world probably merit their own thread.....

I was once told that a Victor crew needed some bit to be sent to Offutt, where they were quietly enjoying life in whatever-the-Bellevue-Ramada-was-currently-called.

Eventually a large box turned up - when the crew chief opened it, he was amazed to find that it actually contained.......a Bedford 4-tonner crankshaft!

No idea if it's a shaggy dog story, but I also experienced lots of bits being sent late, or to the wrong place - or the wrong bit altogether, despite the GE's very clear description.

But hey.....CHING..:ok::ok:!!!

As for the numpty in Eng Ops who refused to do anything unless he received a signal; well, thanks for the extra day the 15 of us had on full rates whilst we tracked down a fax machine..:hmm:

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