A330neo private jet launched by Airbus

Airbus Corporate Jets has launched a corporate jet version of its A330neo airliner, which combines new-generation engines and aerodynamic plus other improvements that it says will deliver efficiency, comfort and very long range.

Called the ACJ330neo, it will fly 25 passengers 9,400nm (17,400km) or some 20 hours, enough to fly nonstop from Europe to Australia. It features a spacious cabin that can accommodate conference/dining areas, a private office, bedroom, bathroom, guest seating, and can be fully customised to suit customer needs.

Recent A330 advances include new-generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, Sharklet wingtips and improved maximum take-off weights, delivering better payload and range. Other new features include the option of an on-board airport navigation system (OANS), similar to satellite navigation systems (GPS) in cars, and a runway overrun prevention system (ROPS).

Picture caption:  A computer rendering of how the new ACJ330neo will look.  Via Airbus

More USAF aircraft added to RIAT line-up

Visitors to this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford in the Cotswolds will be able to view one of the biggest gatherings of US military aircraft at a UK airshow in recent years.  In addition to the USAF display team the Thunderbirds, a B-1 and B-52 bomber and a state-of-the-art F-22 fighter already revealed, the Americans have announced that many more exciting aircraft will be arriving at the base as the airshow prepares to stage the biggest celebration of the USAF’s 70th anniversary in Europe.

The airshow, which takes place on July 14-16, will also feature two CV-22B Ospreys – one of which will be in the flying programme and the other on display in the static park. Also confirmed for the static park will be two F-16C fighter jets from Spangdahlem in Germany; an MC-130J Commando II tactical transport and tanker aircraft, based at Mildenhall and a C-17A Globemaster from Charleston, South Carolina.

GWR ‘387s’ reach Maidenhead

EMU operations to ramp up by September

Great Western Railway has introduced its first Class 387 Electrostar EMUs on services between London Paddington and Maidenhead.

A phased transfer of diagrams to EMU operation is planned ahead of full service as far as Maidenhead in September, and GWR says this will deliver a 40% increase in seating capacity in the Thames Valley. Extension of EMU operation west to Reading and Didcot Parkway is due to take place in January 2018.
GWR has ordered a total of 45 four-car Class 387s from Bombardier, financed by Porterbrook. It first introduced the ‘387s’ on shuttle services between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington in January. Eventually they will operate in 12-car formations.

Vulcan XL426 Gets a New Hangar Home at Southend Airport

The Vulcan Restoration Trust (VRT) have  announce that Vulcan XL426 will be moving to a new home under cover at London Southend Airport.  XL426, owned by the VRT, will relocate to the airport’s Hangar 6 for an initial five-year period with the first part of the move to a temporary holding location already under way until the hangar is ready.

Since the beginning of May VRT volunteers, assisted by London Southend Airport, have been busy preparing the Hangar 6 for XL426’s arrival. Tasks have included upgrading of the hangar’s electrical services, replacement of ceiling tiles, bring the hangar doors back into operation and an extensive amount of cleaning and tidying. The hangar, together with the adjacent Hangar 5, measures some 4,000 square metres and will also provide space for VRT’s ground equipment and spares.

VRT and London Southend Airport have been in negotiations since early 2017 over a new site and agreement to relocate XL426 to Hangar 6 was reached at the end of April. The move is necessary due to extra car parking space being needed for the increasing numbers of passengers using Southend Airport. This included the area of XL426’s former parking pan, meaning a new site had to be found for the Vulcan.

VRT Trustee Richard Clarkson said: “This is fantastic outcome for XL426 and the VRT. Getting XL426 under cover is something we have dreamed about for many years and it is now a reality. London Southend Airport has been incredibly positive and helpful throughout the whole process, and we can’t thank them enough for the support they have provided and will continue to provide. A roof over XL426’s head opens up many opportunities for us, both in terms of engineering and increased public access to the Vulcan.”

Glyn Jones, CEO Stobart Aviation said : “The Vulcan is a key part of the history of London Southend Airport and incredibly popular with visitors so we have been very pleased to work with the Trust to provide it with a new home that helps their objective of creating an even better visitor experience, at the same time as helping us grow as an airport”.

London Southend Airport is assisting VRT practically and financially with XL426’s move so that the costs, and the ongoing hangar cost of running the hangar, remain affordable. VRT has, however, launched a campaign to raise funds for it to improve its engineering facilities in the hangar and to make it a high quality environment in which the public can visit XL426. Details of how to contribute to the fund can be found on the VRT’s website: www.avrovulcan.com.

The public’s first chance to see XL426 in its new home will be on Fathers’ Day, Sunday June 18th, when VRT will hold one of its popular Visit the Vulcan Days. Further Visit the Vulcan Days are planned for Sunday August 20th and Sunday September 24th.

Digital ATC Tower for London City Airport



It has been announced that London’s City Airport is to become the first UK airport to build and operate a digital Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower, with a multi-million pound investment in the technology. Working closely with NATS, the UK’s air traffic provider, London City has approved plans for a new tower, at the top of which will be 14 high definition cameras and 2 pan-tilt-zoom cameras. The cameras will provide a 360-degree view of the airfield in a level of detail greater than the human eye and with new viewing tools that will modernise and improve air traffic management.

The images of the airport and data will be sent via independent and secure super-fast fibre networks to a brand new operations room at the NATS control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire. From Swanwick, air traffic controllers will perform their operational role, using the live footage displayed on 14 HD screens that form a seamless panoramic moving image, alongside the audio feed from the airfield, and radar readings from the skies above London, to instruct aircraft and oversee movements. The 50-metre digital tower was approved by the London Borough of Newham in late 2016.

Construction of the tower is due to be completed in 2018, followed by more than a year of rigorous testing and training, during which the existing 30-year old tower will continue to operate. The digital tower will become fully operational in 2019.

Italian Tornado for Cosford show

The flying display line-up for the RAF Cosford Air Show received another exciting  boost this week, with the news that the Italian Air Force will be sending a Tornado to perform on Sunday 11th June.

It is hoped that the jet used for the flying display will be adorned in a special paint scheme, unveiled earlier this year in Italy, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 311° Gruppo.

The Italian Air Force will also be sending a C-27J Spartan, a tactical transport aircraft, for static display at the show.

The RAF Cosford Air Show is an advanced ticket only event, for more details see www.cosfordairshow.co.uk

Boeing KC-46A Tanker Joins Flight Test Programme

Boeing now has six aircraft in its KC-46 tanker test programme, expanding its ability to complete ground and flight-test activities as it progresses toward first deliveries to the US Air Force.

The newest KC-46 aerial refueling aircraft, the second low-rate initial production plane, completed its first flight April 29. Its test activities will help ensure the KC-46 can safely operate through electromagnetic fields produced by radars, radio towers and other systems.

“Adding another tanker will help us to become even more efficient and significantly improve our ability to complete test points going forward,” said Jeanette Croppi, Boeing KC-46A tanker test team director. “We are also re-configuring one of our 767-2C aircraft into a tanker, which means we soon will have four KC-46 tankers in test.”

“This first flight is another important step for the KC-46 programme toward verifying the aircraft’s operational capabilities,” said Col. John Newberry, Air Force KC-46 System program manager. “Adding this aircraft brings key capabilities to the test fleet and helps move us closer to delivering operational aircraft to the warfighter.”

To date, the program’s test aircraft have completed 1,600 flight hours and more than 1,200 ‘contacts’ during refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10 and KC-10 aircraft.

The KC-46 is derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe. The company expects to build 179 tankers in its Everett factory.

The KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

Steam engine nameplate for Battle of Britain Memorial

A piece of railways history is to be unveiled at the Battle of Britain Memorial in Kent following the presentation of the squadron badge and original nameplate from a steam locomotive.  The Battle of Britain Locomotive Society presented the items from Battle of Britain class Pacific engine 34081 at a ceremony at the Nene Valley Railway (NVR), at Wansford, Cambridgeshire.

The nameplate and the badge of 92 Squadron – famously based at Biggin Hill during the Battle of Britain in 1940 – will shortly go on display at the Battle of Britain Memorial in Capel-le-Ferne, home to the National Memorial to the Few.  The long-term loan of the items was suggested by the preservation society as a way of ensuring the items could be on display in a ‘truly appropriate setting’.

They were presented to Gp Capt Patrick Tootal, Secretary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, and Wg Cdr Andrew Simpson, one of the Trustees, by Ian Bowskill, Chairman of the Society, formerly known as the Battle of Britain Locomotive Preservation Society.  The items will be displayed in The Wing, the Trust’s visitor centre.

Locomotive 34081 entered service from the Brighton works in September 1948 but was withdrawn from Eastleigh shed in August 1964 and subsequently sold to Dai Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry Island in South Wales.

Bought by the preservation society in autumn 1973, she arrived at Wansford on the NVR near Peterborough on December 7, 1976.  Following restoration, it moved under her own power in 1998 – the first time since 1964 – and became a regular performer on various heritage railways until being withdrawn for overhaul at the North Norfolk Railway in 2008.

The engine returned to service on the NVR in February following 7 years of restoration work.  She was rededicated at a ceremony held at Wansford during which a Supermarine Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed a flypast.  After the re-dedication, replica nameplates were unveiled on the locomotive by Wg Cdr Tim McAuley, Officer Commanding 92 Squadron, so that the original nameplate and badge could be handed over to the trust.

Gp Capt Patrick Tootal ( on the left) standing in front of the re-dedicated locomotive with Ian Bowskill, chairman of the Battle of Britain Locomotive Society


USAF Heavyweights for RIAT

The US Air Force has confirmed that two of its largest and most formidable aircraft will be flying into RAF Fairford this summer to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo.

The bombers, a B-52H Stratofortress and a B-1B Lancer will join other USAF machines, including the F-22 Raptor and Thunderbirds display team as part of celebrations marking the service’s 70th anniversary.  The B-52H will come from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and the B-1B from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.