Humanitarian flights, military transports, future inflight refueling; Keen international interest in this German innovation
Hamburg. By the end of the year 2001 the German air force will be flying a total of four modified A310s as multi-role transports. These four aircraft will be subsequently equipped to function as aerial tankers.
The German defense ministry has placed an order to this effect with the Hamburg consortium that specializes in such aircraft modifications. Consisting of EADS Airbus GmbH and Lufthansa Technik AG, the consortium has already converted two Airbus A310s into multi-role transports (MRTs) and delivered them to the air force. A number of other countries have shown an interest in multi-role transports of this type, which are particularly well-suited for humanitarian flights of various kinds.
“Our customized conversion of the A310 into a multi-role transport for humanitarian and military missions is another proof that our abilities as an airplane manufacturer transcend just the series production of passenger and cargo aircraft,” said Hans-Joachim Gante, board chairman of EADS Airbus GmbH in Hamburg.
“With this aircraft EADS Airbus and Lufthansa Technik are making a technologically innovative contribution to modernizing Germany`s armed forces in the area of air transport. We see great opportunities for this German product innovation in the international marketplace,” declared Wolfgang Mayrhuber, chairman of Lufthansa Technik`s executive board.
Equipped as a “flying hospital”, the converted Airbus can be used to transport the sick and wounded. In that version the A310 has up to six intensive-care stations and can accommodate 56 bed patients. Most recently an aircraft of this type was used to evacuate wounded children from Palestine. Only three days are required to convert the multi-role transport into either of its other two versions: a troop transport seating 214 or a combination cargo and passenger aircraft seating 54.
Under a further order from the defense ministry a fourth function will be built into the four A310 multi-role transports during the period from 2002 to 2004. Extra fuel tanks will be installed below deck with refueling hoses extendable from both wings and with an operator`s station behind the cockpit. The converted A310s will then be able to do in-flight refueling of other aircraft such as Tornados and thereby greatly increase their range.
Founded in 1996 with the two Hamburg-based aviation companies EADS Airbus and Lufthansa Technik AG, the “A310 MRTT Air Force Consortium” estimates that nowhere in the world is there a comparably flexible and versatile transport aircraft. Its great mission flexibility bestows investment-cost advantages which make Germany`s armed forces a pioneer in the area of logistical transport aircraft with state-of-the-art equipment. Several countries are already evincing a keen interest in such a multi-role transport having the combined capabilities of carrying passengers, freight as well the seriously ill or injured, plus an ability to provide in-flight refueling of other aircraft.
All four multi-role transports along with the other three A310s operated by the German air force will be serviced worldwide by Lufthansa Technik AG, a civilian provider of maintenance and overhauls. This will confer further long-term operating-cost advantages compared with costs of maintenance by the military.
The first A310 MRTT tankers will be delivered to the air force starting in late 2003.