Budget cuts force Britain’s RAF to reduce VVIP fleet

Budget cuts force Britain’s RAF to reduce VVIP fleet

8-May-2011 Source: HeliHub.com

UK’s Royal Air Force has quietly reduced its fleet of VVIP AgustaWestland 109E Powers from three to two from the end of March 2011, apparently a budget cut industry sources tell us.  No indication of this was made when the contract renewed on 1st April (see our story here), but the unexpected move of serial ZR321 back to the UK civil register as G-CDVB had the HeliHub.com team investigating.  The remaining pair, ZR322 and ZR323, will continue their VVIP operation transporting top politicians and the royal family from their base at RAF Northolt, a few miles north of London’s Heathrow Airport.  Their current contract runs to 31st March 2012, the short renewal period of one year no doubt to provide flexibility if they need to change the number of helicopters again.

We understand that the aircraft taken out of service will shortly be ferried from Northolt to AgustaWestland’s plant at Yeovil for storage until its future is decided.

The contract with the Royal Air Force for the maintenance of these 109E Powers is held by AgustaWestland and the technical support and training services are subcontracted to UK/Eire distributor Sloane Helicopters at Sywell.  The last visit of ZR321 to Sywell was on the 29th March, flying from and to Northolt.

Jeremy Parkin, HeliHub.com

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