Aircraft

How Is An A400M Atlas Aircraft Helping The Red Arrows On Tour?

The Reds need personnel and supplies to keep up with the packed schedule.

The Red Arrows are nearing the end of one of their biggest ever tours.

In North America for the past two months, the itinerary has included more than 20 cities across the United States and Canada.

Back home, engineers and supplies can travel by road to various parts of the UK, but overseas, it is a different story.

This time they have needed an extra level of support to help them cross the Atlantic, and a whole continent.

Logistical challenge

Personnel from RAF Brize Norton have been tasked with making sure all of the kits, spare parts and crew keep up with the Hawk jets.

Passengers, dye barrels, and luggage cannot be forgotten.

Squadron Leader Headley Myers, A400M pilot, said:

"My crew came out here, started in Vancouver, came down to Miramar to run static at the airshow down here.

"It's subtly different in Canada and the US.

"There's a little different way they operate, in general it's under air traffic as we're used to anywhere around the world.

"But there's nuances in language and some of their procedures that is, for the new guys, well worth doing training to come out here."

The Reds' route has involved changing location multiple times per week - airshows, flypasts and events on the ground have all filled the diary.

An Airbus A400M Atlas transport aircraft flies with or ahead of them, and it can be an effort to keep up.

Sometimes it requires more than one trip.

The A400M requires regular checks and maintenance.

Loadmaster, Flight Sergeant Steve Young said: "There's two of us on this aircraft for this trip, because of the amount of passengers that we've got.

"We're moving approximately 50 passengers at a time, and about 22 tonnes of freight, so we have to do that in two hops to get to our location just purely due to the volume of freight that we're carrying."

The work does not just revolve around the Hawk jets.

The A400M too must be maintained.

Engineer, Sergeant Mark Foster, said: "Yesterday we were out in front of the crowds changing some wheels, carrying out our maintenance.

"The hardest thing we've had to do is we've had two incidents of birds hitting the aircraft on approach which causes some work for us.

"It was down in Portland I think they were, final approach into the airport they hit 11 birds - one went down the engine and one hit the prop which required inspections after that."

Soon, the Reds will head back to the UK, via Goose Bay (a town in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada) and Iceland.

It will mean the end of a tour which would not have been possible without a helping hand.