Aircraft and Equipment

The Aircraft of Royal Air Force Northolt


Four BAe 146 aircraft are operated by No 32(The Royal) Squadron, at RAF Northolt. In June 1983, the RAF leased a pair of BAe146 aircraft to test their suitability as replacements for Andover aircraft which had served in the VIP role since the mid-1960s. Following successful completion of the trials, three aircraft were later purchased and they entered service from 1986 onwards. One was later sold.

The 146 was the first jet aircraft to be operated by the Royal Flight and offered twice the speed of the Andover, 60 percent greater range, the ability to fly above bad weather and an increase from twelve to nineteen seats in the passenger cabin. Quiet and spacious the 146 also possesses excellent short take-off and landing capabilities.

In early 2013 2 "Quick Change" or Mark 3 BAe 146's were purchased and converted to provide medium range support to operations in Afghanistan. Operated by 32 Squadron, these aircraft are not for VIP duties but can be used in a full freight or passenger configuration, or 50:50. Both aircraft are currently deployed to Afghanistan.


The Hawker Siddeley 125 can carry up to seven passengers and is crewed by two pilots and carries a steward/stewardess when required. The first versions of this VIP aircraft were built by the Hawker Siddeley company and known as HS125 CC1s. They were delivered to the RAF between April 1971 and 1972, and two improved aircraft known as HS125 CC2s followed in April 1973. Six more BAE125 CC3s joined No 32 Squadron in 1982-3 and it is six of these aircraft that remain in service today - the CC1s and CC2s having retired during the 1990s.

Agusta 109

The A 109 is operated by a single pilot and is powered by two Pratt & Whitney 206C engines, housed in independent fire-proof bays and controlled by Full Authority Digital Engine Control Units. The single aircraft flown by 32(The Royal) Squadron was delivered from the factory in Milan in March 2006.

The aircraft is a twin-engined, eight-seat helicopter with retractable undercarriage, weighing about 2,000 kgs and cleared to operate up to 3,000 kgs. The earliest A 109s were built by Agusta in the late 1970s, while the Power derivatives stem from the mid 1990s. It can be flown by a single pilot in all weather conditions, by day and night. The aircraft has a “glass cockpit” with two complete sets of pilot instruments and navigation systems, including a three-axis autopilot, an auto-coupled Instrument Landing System and a satellite-based Global Positioning System. There is also a Moving Map Display, weather radar and a Traffic Alerting System.

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.

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