Belgian "Air Force One"
The Belgian Airbus A321 operates since 07 April 2014 under the operational control of the European Air Transport Command in Eindhoven. Stationed at 15th AT Wing Melsbroek, the aircraft proved its strategic skills with first successful missions to Bamako (Mali) and Kinshasa (Kongo) in May 2014.
Smaller but smarter
In April last 2013, the Belgian Defense Minister Pieter De Crem launched a tender for a single-aisle aircraft. The Portuguese leasing company HiFly won that tender by offering an A321 which was built in 1999 and flew for Aero Lloyd before being used by Onur Air. The aircraft is leased for a time period of four years. It was also chosen because it uses significantly less fuel than the predecessing Belgian Airbus A330.
Furthermore an aircraft of this size offers also flexibility and complementarity with the fleets of other EATC Participating Nations - especially with regard to a passenger-“load” that ranges in-between the biggest tactical aircraft (Hercules C-130 H-30) and long distance alternatives with 200+ seats, such as McDonnel Douglas (Boeing) KDC-10, Airbus A310 and Airbus A340.
The Airbus A321 is a 6.94 stretched derivative of the Airbus A320, therewith biggest member of the Airbus A320 family. Compared to the A320 standard, the A321 aircraft type was equipped with additional tanks and a more powerful thrust in order to keep up its performance on longer distances.
Words: Norbert Thomas
Pictures: Belgian Luchtcomponent, Pascal Ballinger