32 Sqn RAF Northolt

The Mod have announced a tender for the replacement of the 4 BAe 146 transport aircraft,

4 x BAe 146 to be replaced by 2 x biz jets.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) currently operates a military fleet of BAe146 transport aircraft from RAF Northolt that will be withdrawn from service on 31 March 2022.

The CSAT RECAP project aims to replace this capability by adopting a procurement strategy featuring two phases:

1. Phase 1: Competitive procurement of two civil Business Jets to be Accepted by 31 Mar 22 with an in-service support package that will run until 31 March 2024. Six, six-month Option periods (totalling 3 years) will be included in the Contract for continuation of the phase 1 in-service support as required. These aircraft will be owned by the MoD but operated on the Civil Aircraft Register and initially operated by contractor-provided civilian pilots. Phase 1 also includes the training of military pilots and cabin crew and the use of these service personnel to compliment the civilian pilots in the delivery of the service.

2. Phase 2: A separate competitive procurement for the embodiment of military modifications on the aircraft, from 1 April 2024 (subject to take-up of options), and provision of in-service support utilising military personnel in the operation of the aircraft, with an associated transfer of aircraft to the Military Aircraft Register.

The Aircraft will need to achieve a minimum unrefuelled range of 3,850nm from an unrestricted airfield transporting up to 8 passengers, 3 crew and associated baggage.

The CSAT Recap Aircraft will be owned by MoD but will be leased back to the Contractor and operated during the period of Phase 1 on the Civil Aircraft Register by the Contractor who will assume all airworthiness responsibility.

CSAT RECAP Phase 1 requires delivery of up to 980 flying hours in the first year ending 31 March 2023 and up to 1200 flying hours in the second year, ending 31 March 2024 from the two Aircraft that are available.

These services are to be available 7 days per week, 365 days per year from the Contractors Operating Base and/or the MOB. CSAT Recap requires delivery of a support arrangement that will incorporate all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance arisings where risk will be appropriately apportioned to ensure that a high level of Aircraft availability can be reasonably achieved.

The solution also requires the Contractor to manage delivery of all Aircraft movements in accordance with tasking from the Authority.

While civilian crews are required to pilot the Aircraft in Phase 1, this phase also includes a requirement to train an initial cadre of RAF pilots and cabin crew to supplement the civilian pilots in delivering the flying hours.

Command Support Air Transport Recapitalisation (CSAT Recap) - Find a Tender (find-tender.service.gov.uk)
 
Always wondered why the MoD went for the Airbus. I’m sure there are lots of other issues considered but from a straight Performance perspective, they’re rubbish.

Given we take 787s into places like Kos I’d have thought this a much better bet?

Regarding this specific tender, a Gulfstream every time. Which is why they’ll go for the A319, another aircraft that gets airborne by virtue of the curvature of the earth. The BBJ is pretty good too with the add on enhanced braking package it even stops well (compared with the bog standard NG). I’d imagine it would also be available at a good price and readily “militarised” given the Poseidon and the already in place RAF / Boeing relationship? Ditto crew training.

I‘m sure someone here will know better but I’m not sure the people that are “thinking” this through will and will make it more complicated, more expensive and ultimately less deliverable / capable than needed.
 

Dumbas

Clanker
Would it be a requirement that the successful type must be able to operate out of RAF Northolt (1687m). If so, that might rule out a lot of aircraft types.
 
Would it be a requirement that the successful type must be able to operate out of RAF Northolt (1687m). If so, that might rule out a lot of aircraft types.
You beat me to it, I was just doing some research on exactly that!

My source* has Northolt at 1683m (we can still be friends). We routinely operate the NG into Corfu where landing south there’s a considerably displaced threshold giving a Landing distance of 1963m (the whole length is useable for departure making CFU 17 one of those unusual airports where getting in might be more limiting than getting out).

We do that with a full load of 189 pax and it is “Unrestricted” in that no special training is required beyond reading the brief.

I‘m just going to have a look at range issues which might take me a while as there will need to be some assumptions made!

*Lido, the Lufthansa owned flight planning system.
 
Some real fag packet stuff here so up your salt intake.

Boeing BBJ publicity material gives the MAX derived BBJ range with 8 pax as 6515nm, hugely in excess of the requirement.

Using Boeing OPT (On Board Performance Tool)
Using a MAX airframe with weights adjusted to match the BBJ figures from the above source
Take off from a 1683m runway
ISA conditions
Assuming a pax and bag load of 3.5T*

This gives a Zero Fuel Mass almost exactly 20T under Max Take Off Mass for the above conditions. Therefore, Max Fuel Load is 20T off this runway.

The above is pretty assumption free (less the Payload aspect). What follows is highly assumptive as I’ve used a straight linear extrapolation of Boeing published max fuel capacity -v- max range with 8 pax. This is highly dubious because the real world is not linear but gives a fag packet idea!

20T represents 48% of the Boeing published Max Fuel Load.

48% of the Boeing published Max Range with 8 pax (6515nm) is 3132nm, very close to the 3850nm requirement.

So the BBJ can carry the required 8 pax, hugely overweight ones at that, out of Northolt to a point very close to requirement. I very much doubt Northolt would be the criteria airfield.

(If we use the civi standard figures for pax and bags, which Boeing OPT assumes anyway, we can nick back @ 2.6T which we can load as fuel and extend the range to 3540nm).

*this is @ 4x civi loading that assumes 8 males with 1x 23kg bag each would weigh 896kg
 
Some real fag packet stuff here so up your salt intake.

Boeing BBJ publicity material gives the MAX derived BBJ range with 8 pax as 6515nm, hugely in excess of the requirement.

Using Boeing OPT (On Board Performance Tool)
Using a MAX airframe with weights adjusted to match the BBJ figures from the above source
Take off from a 1683m runway
ISA conditions
Assuming a pax and bag load of 3.5T*

This gives a Zero Fuel Mass almost exactly 20T under Max Take Off Mass for the above conditions. Therefore, Max Fuel Load is 20T off this runway.

The above is pretty assumption free (less the Payload aspect). What follows is highly assumptive as I’ve used a straight linear extrapolation of Boeing published max fuel capacity -v- max range with 8 pax. This is highly dubious because the real world is not linear but gives a fag packet idea!

20T represents 48% of the Boeing published Max Fuel Load.

48% of the Boeing published Max Range with 8 pax (6515nm) is 3132nm, very close to the 3850nm requirement.

So the BBJ can carry the required 8 pax, hugely overweight ones at that, out of Northolt to a point very close to requirement. I very much doubt Northolt would be the criteria airfield.

(If we use the civi standard figures for pax and bags, which Boeing OPT assumes anyway, we can nick back @ 2.6T which we can load as fuel and extend the range to 3540nm).

*this is @ 4x civi loading that assumes 8 males with 1x 23kg bag would weigh 896kg

That is all very good Pilot / Loadmaster stuff - but, aren't you missing out the 'Human Factor' here ?

I mean, the more range the aircraft - the less refuel stops, thus extra Duty hours which would lead to less overnighters in Gucci 4/5* Hotels - all expenses paid.

I mean, without all those stopovers, fluffy towels and scented soaps - you are just a glorified taxi driver without rockets and cannons and stuff.
Where's the fun in that ?

I expect future Manning issues. ( can we say that anymore ? )
 

potter

Old-Salt
These services are to be available 7 days per week, 365 days per year from the Contractors Operating Base and/or the MOB. CSAT Recap requires delivery of a support arrangement that will incorporate all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance arisings where risk will be appropriately apportioned to ensure that a high level of Aircraft availability can be reasonably achieved.
It's not my field, but are aircraft service availability requirements normally written in a seemingly contradictory manner such as this? Does "services" not mean "aircraft availability" in this context? And in a relatively well quantified requirement, does "a high level of Aircraft availability can be reasonably achieved" have an accepted quantified meaning in the aerospace sector?
 

Dumbas

Clanker
I don’t suppose it would be a requirement to operate out of Northolt with a fuel load which allows intercontinental travel. For those occasions, it could pre-position to Heathrow or Stansted.

With Northolt’s limited opening hours, it wasn’t uncommon for the 125, 146 (even the Andover) to position into Heathrow, but I suspect it would be a requirement to operate out of Northolt into Europe as that is “bread & butter” and often short notice, given the nature of European politics.

As for the “glorified taxi drivers”…. with the aircraft being on the civil register, I suspect the pilots will need civil licences…. Which I can see leading to all sorts of retention issues (eg.. thanks for licence.. I’m off to BA!!). On the flipside.. Civilian pilots don’t like flying into war zones, so you need someone subject to QRs, up front, to ensure the duty is completed.

I seem to recall the 146 had fairly short legs, which wasn’t ideal. It not the cost of hotels and allowances, it’s more about the cost of airport facilities and the extra hours running the aircraft for stopover. Also, the time of the people you are carrying is incredibly valuable.

I don’t think the U.K. has ever provided a solution to VIP travel…. But that warrants a separate thread perhaps??
 
If there are only two aircraft that are required to carry 8 pax per, replacing 4 aircraft that can carry 100 or so each, that's a bit of a loss of capability. Even if the reliability of the 146s was such that only two were ever available, that's still a substantial loss of capacity.

Looks like the tender is for the availability of X hours, so if the contractor requires 3 aircraft to meet the tasking for 2, that's on them.
 
Always wondered why the MoD went for the Airbus. I’m sure there are lots of other issues considered but from a straight Performance perspective, they’re rubbish.

Given we take 787s into places like Kos I’d have thought this a much better bet?

Regarding this specific tender, a Gulfstream every time. Which is why they’ll go for the A319, another aircraft that gets airborne by virtue of the curvature of the earth. The BBJ is pretty good too with the add on enhanced braking package it even stops well (compared with the bog standard NG). I’d imagine it would also be available at a good price and readily “militarised” given the Poseidon and the already in place RAF / Boeing relationship? Ditto crew training.

I‘m sure someone here will know better but I’m not sure the people that are “thinking” this through will and will make it more complicated, more expensive and ultimately less deliverable / capable than needed.

The pair of A321s were nothing to do with the RAF. The Air Force were not even consulted about their purchase or loan.

The A330s were purchased at about 4 times the going rate through a third party under the god-awful scheme I can't even remember the name of (oh, the joys of getting old) I'm sure you all know what I mean.
 
Couldn’t BAES just put new wings on the old 146? I mean, what could go wrong right with that?

I'll bill you later for that.

Payment to the usual Cayman Islands account, please.
 
It's not my field, but are aircraft service availability requirements normally written in a seemingly contradictory manner such as this? Does "services" not mean "aircraft availability" in this context? And in a relatively well quantified requirement, does "a high level of Aircraft availability can be reasonably achieved" have an accepted quantified meaning in the aerospace sector?

I'm sure some window-gazing mandarin on the MOD will be pleased to answer that, after all they wrote out the specification in the first place. Assuming they know what they are talking about, that is.
 
I don’t suppose it would be a requirement to operate out of Northolt with a fuel load which allows intercontinental travel. For those occasions, it could pre-position to Heathrow or Stansted.

With Northolt’s limited opening hours, it wasn’t uncommon for the 125, 146 (even the Andover) to position into Heathrow, but I suspect it would be a requirement to operate out of Northolt into Europe as that is “bread & butter” and often short notice, given the nature of European politics.

As for the “glorified taxi drivers”…. with the aircraft being on the civil register, I suspect the pilots will need civil licences…. Which I can see leading to all sorts of retention issues (eg.. thanks for licence.. I’m off to BA!!). On the flipside.. Civilian pilots don’t like flying into war zones, so you need someone subject to QRs, up front, to ensure the duty is completed.

I seem to recall the 146 had fairly short legs, which wasn’t ideal. It not the cost of hotels and allowances, it’s more about the cost of airport facilities and the extra hours running the aircraft for stopover. Also, the time of the people you are carrying is incredibly valuable.

I don’t think the U.K. has ever provided a solution to VIP travel…. But that warrants a separate thread perhaps??

As far as VIP aircraft are concerned, Northolt's published operating hours are for the plebs only. The 146s often return late in the evening. One was in from Warsaw around 22:00 the other night.

There might be objections to movements at silly o'clock, but the VIPs are all tucked up in their beds at that time of night, anyway.
 
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If there are only two aircraft that are required to carry 8 pax per, replacing 4 aircraft that can carry 100 or so each, that's a bit of a loss of capability. Even if the reliability of the 146s was such that only two were ever available, that's still a substantial loss of capacity.

Looks like the tender is for the availability of X hours, so if the contractor requires 3 aircraft to meet the tasking for 2, that's on them.

Seldom, if ever to these 146s carry more than around 40 pax. And it is mostly small groups one of the old 125s could have carried.
 

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
The pair of A321s were nothing to do with the RAF. The Air Force were not even consulted about their purchase or loan.

The A330s were purchased at about 4 times the going rate through a third party under the god-awful scheme I can't even remember the name of (oh, the joys of getting old) I'm sure you all know what I mean.
Air Tanker is the words you're looking for.
 

Diko

Old-Salt
RAF Northolt in the good old days of Ansons, Devon’s and Pembroke's with proper pilots who never got soft towels and scented soap.
Can I sell you lads a watch?
 

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Air Tanker is the words you're looking for.

No, the name of the way they were purchased, the same as the way hospitals are built and run by third parties at great cost to the taxpayer.

Air Tanker must have made an enormous profit on the Voyager programme.
 
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