Aircraft and Equipment
The Aircraft of Royal Air Force Northolt
No 32 (The Royal) Squadron operate four BAe146 aircraft to deliver a fixed wing CSAT capability. The two CCMk2s are normally operated in a 30-seat configuration. The CMk3 variants have a multi-role capability and were procured as part of an Urgent Operational Requirement to provide Tactical Air Transport in support of Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan. These aircraft are equipped with a cargo door, which enables the configuration to be changed from a 98-seat passenger fit to a palletized freight mode within 30 minutes. In the freight mode the CMk3s are capable of carrying up to 8 tonnes of cargo. The airframe variants complement each other excellently enabling 32 (The Royal) Squadron to deliver CSAT capability of moving small numbers of high priority personnel or cargo by air anywhere in the world.
All four BAe146 aircraft are fitted with an extensive defensive counter measures suite, which enable them to be operated to high threat areas. The design of the aircraft allows it to carry out steep tactical approach profiles and it has excellent short field performance; hence, it can operate to small, austere airfields with runways as short at 3,500ft in length and only 60ft wide. With its discrete markings and a cabin configured to enable high priority passengers to conduct essential meetings whilst in flight, the BAe146 is an essential enabler for key leadership engagement anywhere in the world.
Replacing the the Twin Squirrel helicopter, the A109 was delivered to 32 (The Royal) Squadron in 2006. The earliest A109s were built by Agusta in the late 1970s, while the Power derivatives stem from the mid 1990s. The aircraft is normally operated by a single pilot and can carry a total of eight people. It is is a twin-engined turbine helicopter with a retractable undercarriage. Normally weighing approximately 2000 kgs this aircraft is cleared to operate at weights up to 3000 kgs.
It is powered by two Pratt & Whitney 206C engines, housed in independent fire-proof bays and controlled by Full Authority Digital Engine Control units. The twin-engine design gives the pilot more flexibility when planning routes over built-up areas, as the aircraft can operate at limited weights on a single engine. Even if power from one engine is lost, the aircraft can maintain height to clear the built-up area.
Capable of operating to confined off airfield locations by day or night in all weather conditions and at short notice this responsive platform provides UK defence with a short range capability for high priority personnel in support of operations worldwide and Government interests from home base.
Islander BN2T CC Mk2
The Islander operated by the Army's RAF Northolt Station Flight is a military variant of the Britten-Norman BN-2T Islander aircraft. The Flight operates two CC Mk2 aircraft, registrations ZF563 and ZH 537, in the photographic mapping and light communications roles. The aircraft can be configured in a passenger or freight configuration and can also be used for pilot/aircrew training. The Station Flight was formed in August 1991 and currently operates with 8 pilots, 1 navigator and 11 engineers.
The Islander BN2T CC Mk2 is a high wing monoplane with a semi-monocoque fuselage, with access via three doors on the left hand side and one on the right hand side. The one-piece cantilever wing is attached to the fuselage, and each engine nacelle is constructed integrally with the wing. A fixed landing gear has a steerable single-wheel unit at the nose and, attached to each engine nacelle, a main leg with twin wheels. Two Allison 250-B17C turboprop engines are fitted. The length is 10.97 m and span is 14.93 m.
The cockpit is designed for single pilot operations, with space for one other pilot or navigator when required. The aircraft has a service ceiling of 25,000 ft, but due to the CC Mk2 being un-pressurised, a ceiling of 10,000ft is used. The aircraft flies at a max speed of 152 kts, with a landing speed as low as 65kts. Seats for up to 9 passengers can be fitted in the cabin. Some minor modifications have been made to the aircraft in order to accomplish their flexible role.