Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Belize for royal tour
Based at RAF Brize Norton, the aircraft dubbed “Vespina” is an Airbus A330, callsign ZZ336. Royal fans have this week marvelled at its elegant design as it carried Prince William and Kate Middleton during their Caribbean tour. The bold and deliberate paintwork on the tail of the aircraft has been designed to promote Britain around the world as it transports high-ranking Government officials and members of the Firm and the plane now enjoys a status comparable to the US President’s Air Force One.
Voyager aims to give Britain a similar presence in the skies and airports of the world, and with it, boost the name of UK PLC as it undertakes diplomatic and commercial missions.
Speaking of his pride upon completion of the Aircraft, Air Commodore Simon Edwards said: “This project was a privilege to have been involved in and I am delighted to have seen it delivered so quickly and efficiently, together with our industry partners.
“The aircraft’s new paint scheme will better reflect its prestige role which we are proud to undertake.”
On their recent trip to Belize, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge delighted crowds as they stepped out of the majestic aircraft as they arrived.
The couple took time to share a photo of them facing out of the plane’s door as the sun of Belize poured over its tailfin.
The jet was also used to take the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on a tour of the Middle East in 2020.
The RAF Voyager soars through the sky in its majestic colours
The Tweet by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
The Prince of Wales also used the aircraft on a visit to the Middle East
In an unprecedented environmental modification, the Voyager flies on eco-friendly biofuel known as SAF.
It can cut a plane’s carbon emissions by as much as 70 to 80 percent compared to the jet fuel it replaces over its life cycle.
SAF starts by extracting waste oils from crops, cooking, forestry, sugar, and paper manufacturing and then mixes it with kerosene.
Flying by plane accounts for approximately 2.5 percent of global carbon emissions.
When not being used for transporting VIP’s, Voyager remains an active part of the UK’s air-to-air refuelling and personnel transport fleet.
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The Voyager prior to the £900k paint makeover
The aircraft has 58 first-class seats for top officials
With 58 seats configured to first-class standards at the front of the aircraft, the layout is designed to provide a comfortable yet professional travelling environment.
To the rear, 100 standard class seats are aligned in a 2-4-2 pattern for travelling officials and aides accompanying more senior VIP’s on their travels.
The VIP cabin is fitted with Thompson Aero Seating Vantage XL lie-flat business class seats. They’re configured for all aisle access in a 1-2-1 configuration.
The most important person on board also has the use of a desk in the VIP cabin and access to an extra storage unit.
In spite of the best intentions to brand the UK as a global player, Voyager has received some criticism from concerned voices over the £900,000 cost of the branding paintwork.
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The US Air Force One and Saudi Royals B747 are example of famous state aircraft
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has criticised the cost of the RAF plane’s repainting as a “Tory red, white and blue vanity project” and a “waste of public money”.
SNP deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald said: “Boris Johnson has been happy to throw taxpayers’ cash at new, unnecessary jets, yachts and Union Jack paint jobs, whilst imposing austerity cuts on the rest of us.” The Liberal Democrats‘ deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Boris Johnson’s ability to waste taxpayer’s money truly knows no bounds.”
She said: “Wasting money on painting planes while refusing to feed hungry children or properly pay hard-working nurses is just another reminder that this failing PM will always put propaganda over people.”
There has also been reported discontent at the very few uses of the aircraft since its rebranding.
Was the Government correct in spending £900,000 on painting an aircraft? Does the aircraft spell a new place for Britain in the international arena? Should the aircraft be used more often by senior British officials and royals? Let us know what you think of the RAF Voyager by CLICKING HERE and joining the debate in our comments section below – Every Voice Matters!
Aviation expert Nonstop Dan says state owner aircraft is designed with prestige in mind
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, aviation enthusiast and popular Youtuber Nonstop Dan said: “State aircraft are for a large part prestige-based.
“If you look in the US, Air Force is a massive topic, people talk about it people all around the world know about it, people come out to see it land in different countries, which you don’t see with other Government officials and aircraft from other nations.
“Then you look at somewhere like Saudi Arabia, where they have a fleet of about 10 to 20 royal wide-body aircraft, painted in big proud Saudi Arabian livery to showcase the flag, Qatar has the same thing, a massive fleet of jets.
“In a way it’s promotion, but I think that in some sense, unfortunately, it’s about showing off.”
Speaking of other nations, Nonstop Dan said: “Looking at a country like Sweden, where the culture is against any sort of displays of might or unnecessary spending where buying or investing in a flashy national aircraft would be heavily scrutinised, the Government there has a fleet of just 3 Gulfstream’s which are shared between the royal family and every Government delegate and the PM.”
“These are not painted in a flash livery or anything, and is just for practical purposes.”
He added: “More than anything, under the glamourous paintwork, is a whole bunch of protection systems.
“Air Force Once has so many safety systems we can’t even imagine, all fitted to protect the people on board.
“So it’s an investment in the safety of the head of state, and it’s a part of the pricey safety package these individuals get.
“It’s also a question of Government priorities, some go for comfort and convenience, whilst others go for more glam in sending a statement.”
For Voyager, as the UK emerges from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and international travel returns to pre-virus levels, the role of the aircraft will no doubt increase as Britain aims to get back onto the world stage, seal commercial deals, and once again grace the skies with pride.