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Flying On RAF Tristar  
User currently offlineBaexecutive From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 738 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 8623 times:

Hey Gang,

Has anyone flown on an RAF Scheduled service? Whats it like? Do you get any meals etc?

Thanks
J

27 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 8581 times:

Have to say that I am unsure about any RAF Scheduled Services (other than ferry flights for members of the armed forces) but perhaps this is the service you might be referring to MOD charter flight from the UK.

Trivial fact: The pax seats on the RAF TriStars are all rear-facing, which some people do not like.



MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
User currently offlineMhodgson From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2002, 5047 posts, RR: 25
Reply 2, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 8579 times:

I think at the moment, many of the flights are operated by XL aircraft for the MoD - I have seen some of their 767s on the approach to BZZ.


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User currently offlineVasu From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2005, 3874 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 8577 times:

I can imagine the service is REALLY basic, that's for sure!

User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8088 posts, RR: 54
Reply 4, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 8559 times:

I thought the RAF flew scheduled to the Falkland Islands from Brize Norton? I'd love to go on that flight! Probably the last safe Tristar operation still running as well. But at two thousand bucks a ticket, I don't know if I'll be doing it very soon.


fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 16
Reply 5, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 8446 times:

Quoting Vasu (Reply 3):
I can imagine the service is REALLY basic, that's for sure!

According to a friend who has been a pax on the MOD charter flight to the Falklands, service on the RAF TriStar is very professional and would beat many of the legacy airlines hands down. Remember that the RAF crews who have F/A duties are highly trained professionals, probably more so than the average airline F/A, and many of them have also served in the officers' mess so would have standards of service equivalent to professional hotel/restaurant staff. They are also very conscientious about safety, and would certainly not tolerate any unruly behaviour. Sadly, however, you will probably not get a hot female F/A, nor could you expect any gimmicks and gadgets!



MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
User currently offlineBongodog1964 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2006, 3549 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 8414 times:

Quoting BCAL (Reply 1):
Trivial fact: The pax seats on the RAF TriStars are all rear-facing, which some people do not like.

I was under the impression, that though seats on previous generation RAF transports were rear facing (up to and including VC10), it was decided to stick with the civilian forward facing seats for the Tristar to save on design and certification costs.


User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 16
Reply 7, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 8343 times:

Quoting Bongodog1964 (Reply 6):
it was decided to stick with the civilian forward facing seats for the Tristar

I have only read that the seats on the RAF TriStars are rear-facing, so let's hope someone who has actually been inside the cabin can elaborate for us. Of course, there are no cabin views of the RAF TriStar in Photos!

It might be that as some of the RAF TriStars are ex-BA models, maybe pax seats in these are not rear-facing?



MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26912 posts, RR: 58
Reply 8, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 8320 times:

I have always wanted to do this trip but funds have prevented me . Maybe next year. Theres some info on here :

http://www.falklands.info/factfile/flights.html

Id love to write a trip report with pics if I ever get on this and I hope it would be the Tri Star. That would be the trip of a lifetime.


User currently offlineUK_Dispatcher From United Arab Emirates, joined Dec 2001, 2593 posts, RR: 30
Reply 9, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 8320 times:

There are some (if not all?) RAF TriStars which have forward-facing seats. A colleague of mine went on one of the combis last year and I asked him if the seats were rear-facing. He said no.

User currently offlineCornish From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 8187 posts, RR: 54
Reply 10, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 8311 times:

Make the most of them while they are still around. In a couple of years the Tristars and VC10s will be replaced by A330-200s.

Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Reply 9):
There are some (if not all?) RAF TriStars which have forward-facing seats.

 checkmark 



Just when I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel, it was some B*****d with a torch bringing me more work
User currently offlineJmc757 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2000, 1298 posts, RR: 7
Reply 11, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 8284 times:

Quoting Mhodgson (Reply 2):
I think at the moment, many of the flights are operated by XL aircraft for the MoD - I have seen some of their 767s on the approach to BZZ.

I thought that Excel won a contract to operate these flights?


User currently offlineCornish From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 8187 posts, RR: 54
Reply 12, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 8241 times:

Quoting Jmc757 (Reply 11):
I thought that Excel won a contract to operate these flights?

I don't know who has the contract, but ultimately that will go as the first of the 14 new aircraft come into service in the next couple of years. The excess capability will allow the RAF (AirTanker) to meet all their troop uplift needs.



Just when I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel, it was some B*****d with a torch bringing me more work
User currently offlineJmc757 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2000, 1298 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 8191 times:

Quoting Cornish (Reply 12):
I don't know who has the contract, but ultimately that will go as the first of the 14 new aircraft come into service in the next couple of years. The excess capability will allow the RAF (AirTanker) to meet all their troop uplift needs.

oh yeah, it was only a couple of years contract as a tide over I think. I'm sure Air Atlanta Uk won it, which subsequently became XL who operate it now.


User currently offlineFalstaff From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 6088 posts, RR: 29
Reply 14, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 8183 times:
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Quoting BCAL (Reply 1):
Trivial fact: The pax seats on the RAF TriStars are all rear-facing

why would they do that? I am sure they must have a reason.



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User currently offlineJmc757 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2000, 1298 posts, RR: 7
Reply 15, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 8149 times:

Quoting Falstaff (Reply 14):
why would they do that? I am sure they must have a reason.

IIRC its been proven that rear facing seats are far safer to passengers in the events of a crash landing. Something to do with providing more support, I'm sure someone can provide further info...


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12134 posts, RR: 51
Reply 16, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 8138 times:

Quoting Cedarjet (Reply 4):
Probably the last safe Tristar operation still running as well.

I'm sure that the TZ US Military L-1011 charters are safe to fly, too.

Quoting Jmc757 (Reply 15):
Quoting Falstaff (Reply 14):
why would they do that? I am sure they must have a reason.

IIRC its been proven that rear facing seats are far safer to passengers in the events of a crash landing. Something to do with providing more support, I'm sure someone can provide further info...

That is correct, as the seat back provides you with support during the high "G" deceleration. When we carried airline seats in the KC-135, they were installed facing to the rear of the aircraft.


User currently offlineTrekster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 8097 times:

My sister managed to get on one a few years ago. We had friends in Ascension and she went over for the summer. Hated it as was very bumpy but said seats were comfy

User currently offlineRichardPrice From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 8091 times:

Quoting Jmc757 (Reply 15):

IIRC its been proven that rear facing seats are far safer to passengers in the events of a crash landing. Something to do with providing more support, I'm sure someone can provide further info...



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 16):
That is correct, as the seat back provides you with support during the high "G" deceleration. When we carried airline seats in the KC-135, they were installed facing to the rear of the aircraft.

Rear facing seats do provide more support in high G decellerations, but theres a damn good reason why they arent used in normal civilian operations - cabin debris.

Those wine bottles you get, the magazines you read, CD players, laptops. The babies being carried in laps. They all become high speed missiles in the event of a sudden deceleration.

Id rather have those hit the back of my headrest than my face.


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13186 posts, RR: 77
Reply 19, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 8085 times:

Apparently, the original VC-10's, built for the RAF, (a hybrid, Standard Fuselage, Super VC-10 wings/engines, an APU and cargo door), prior to the 1990's adoption of a dual tanker/transport mission, the 'shiny' 10 Sqn aircraft, had very high levels of service.
But then they, unlike now, had a major VIP tasking, as well as general military transport roles.


User currently offline474218 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6340 posts, RR: 9
Reply 20, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 8079 times:

Quoting BCAL (Reply 7):
I have only read that the seats on the RAF TriStars are rear-facing, so let's hope someone who has actually been inside the cabin can elaborate for us. Of course, there are no cabin views of the RAF TriStar in Photos!

It might be that as some of the RAF TriStars are ex-BA models, maybe pax seats in these are not rear-facing?



Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Reply 9):
There are some (if not all?) RAF TriStars which have forward-facing seats. A colleague of mine went on one of the combis last year and I asked him if the seats were rear-facing. He said no.

All the seat face forward, in the tankers, the tanker/freighters and the pax TriStars.

In 2001 I flew on a tanker mission out Brize Norton over the North Sea on ZD-953. It was a five hour flight and catering consisted of a boxed lunch (sandwich, crisps, fruit cup, and pastry) it was very tasty and we had enough on board for everyone to have seconds if they wanted.

When the RAF was flying the Falkland's flights the pax TriStars were fully catered with hot in-flight meals. This is possible because they still have the galleys installed. All the leftover meals were put in the 216 Squadron break room and free for the taking. If I got there in time could score a couple steak and kidney pies or bangers and mash for dinner that night.


User currently offlineBilgeRat From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 214 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 8057 times:

I'm flying on an RAF Tristar Brize Norton-Ascension-Mount Pleasant on 25th Jan. If I manage to get online again once I get down there I'll let you know what it was like!

User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9524 posts, RR: 42
Reply 22, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 7932 times:

Quoting BCAL (Reply 5):
Quoting Vasu (Reply 3):
I can imagine the service is REALLY basic, that's for sure!

According to a friend who has been a pax on the MOD charter flight to the Falklands, service on the RAF TriStar is very professional and would beat many of the legacy airlines hands down.



Quoting GDB (Reply 19):
Apparently, the original VC-10's, built for the RAF, (a hybrid, Standard Fuselage, Super VC-10 wings/engines, an APU and cargo door), prior to the 1990's adoption of a dual tanker/transport mission, the 'shiny' 10 Sqn aircraft, had very high levels of service.

I've no recent experience but I did a few RAF flights in the 1960s on Britannias and in 1971 on a VC-10.

The service was every bit as good as I've experienced on any airline. Not First Class by any means but very good for "Economy": e.g. cereal and milk, fruit juice, rolls with butter and jam for breakfast and decent hot meals.

These were regular trooping flights for military personnel and their families. All passenger seats were rear-facing on those aircraft.


User currently offlineOpso1 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 527 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 7840 times:

I've flown on them several times. The worst bit now is that the stewardesses now wear flying suits instead of "blues". What is wrong with that??? Well, picture 150 squaddies on a 7 hour flight with only 5 toilets- they are a better aim with their guns seemingly! The stewardesses have to go to the toilet as well. The sleeves of their flying suits touch the ground in the cubicles, then they serve you food... Hmmmmmmmmmmm...

User currently offlineBilgeRat From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 214 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 7223 times:

This year I made two return journeys to the Falklands. First flight out was in January, returning in April. Next journey was going out again in May and returning last weekend. All the flights were made on a 747-300 TF-ARU of Air Atlanta, operated by XL Airways and chartered by the MoD.

It's quite an interesting experience first time round. Although the aircraft itself is crewed by civilians, all the ground staff at Brize Norton, Ascension, and MPA are all RAF. The passenger terminal at Brize is very small and as you would expect isn't quite up to the standards of the latest passenger terminals at the major international airports. What is interesting at Brize (for aviation enthusiasts at least) is the aircraft you see sitting on the apron... Tristars, VC10s, Globemasters, and even the odd An-124, and of course the rather anonymous looking 747.

The aircraft itself is less than spectacular. Inside is a two class configuration, with the main cabin and upper deck being economy, and the nose section being a pseudo business class. On my first flight I was on the upper deck, the next two flights were in the main cabin, and the final flight was in the business class section. I believe the business class section is reserved for VIPs and senior officers, and if there aren't many senior officers on the flight then junior officers such as myself are bumped up to business class, but it's really nothing to write home about. The aircraft itself is very clean inside, but the fixtures and fittings are in a fairly poor state of repair. On all four flights I noticed broken seats and IFE systems. I'm talking broken armrests, seats where the cushion part you sit on isn't actually attached to the seat, and on my flight in the business class section the reclining mechanism on the seat was broken and wouldn't lock the seat in the upright position. The IFE is basically a series of fairly recent movies shown on the projection screens. Only problem is on every flight the projector was faulty, with one of the colour lamps not working, or the lamps not being focussed properly. Still, I got to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 3, even it it was with a strong green tint!

The cabin service is pretty good, and the cabin crew are courteous and very happy to help, in fact I would say they are better than some of the cabin crew I have come across on the likes of BA! The meals are provided by the RAF catering service. Again, nothing to write home about but perfectly acceptable.

The passengers on these flights are usually a mix of military personnel transitting between UK-Ascension-Falklands, and of course there are usually quite a few Falkland Islanders. I believe the Islanders get special deals for these flights, I have heard that they pay as little as £50 for a return flight to the UK! All the military personnel travel in civilian clothing. The aircraft itself is very rarely full, and more often than not its half-full at most. I believe the 747's cargo capacity is why this aircraft is used on the route.

There is a stop at Ascension Island, the four times I was there it was for around an hour or so whilst the aircraft is refuelled, cleaned, cargo/baggage loaded and the crew changed. I have heard horror stories about the aircraft breaking down here and being stuck there for days until parts or engineers can be flown out from the UK. Another common delay is due to bad weather in the Falklands preventing the 747 departing Ascension.

The Falklands themselves are pretty bleak. Strong winds are the norm there. MPA itself is a sprawling military base that is the centre of military activity on the Islands. The 747 parks on the Apron next to a VC10 and Hercules. The eagle eyed aviation enthusiasts may also spot a SAR Sea King and the roar of departing Tornado F.3s can also be heard. The passenger terminal is again very small, and baggage collection can be something of a scrum, especially as there isn't much room to manoeuvre around all the other passengers once you have got your bag. Once out of the terminal there is a very nice Phantom sat just outside the entrance, and there is usually a another scrum of Army/RN/RAF personnel collecting their colleagues just arriving on the incoming flight.

Leaving the Falklands is usually a very happy experience, with most of the military personnel being very happy to leave the place... lots of smiling faces all round! Both times I have left the Falklands the RAF have provided a very enthusiastic musical farewell, with the ground handlers lined up on the apron with a big speaker system, all singing and dancing to "We've got to get out of this place, if it's the last thing we ever do!" Very appropriate  Smile The 747 is also usually escorted into and out of the Falklands by a Tornado F.3. It usually forms up on the wing, the crew give a wave, disappear briefly and then reappear on the other side of the 747. They usually send a message for the pax via the 747 flight crew, be it "Welcome to the Falklands" or "Have a safe journey home". Interestingly enough, when I flew home last weekend there were only 130 pax on the 747 on the leg from Falklands to Ascension. The departure from MPA was very impressive!

In the last few weeks I was in the Falklands, I had heard that the contract for the 747 was not being renewed, and sometime very soon the 747 flights will cease. I don't know what will be replacing them, but I had heard rumours of an Airbus, probably the Air Luxor A330.

Anyway, I hope this was of interest to anyone who wants to know more about flying to the Falklands.


25 Post contains images AlexEU : BilgeRat, very neat explaination, thanks How many flight there are weekly beatween UK and Falklands? Is it the only civilian destination from Brize No
26 Post contains links and images BilgeRat : There are three flights per fortnight. Basically it just goes back and forth However, if the rumours I heard were true, the Air Atlanta 747 is no long
27 Post contains links Edina : The RAF flights are also one of the main ways of getting to another UK dependency, namely St Helena. Instead of the long journey on the RMS St Helena
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