New operator, new aircraft. Back to the drawing board, literally
In the early 1970’s, studies directed by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's (NATO) major military commanders showed that an airborne early warning (AEW) radar system would significantly enhance the Alliance’s air defence capability.
In December 1978 NATO signed a memorandum of understanding to buy and operate a NATO-owned AEW system. With this decision, the member nations embarked on NATO’s largest commonly funded acquisition program for procurement of, eventually, AWACS aircraft.
Some four years later, the first E-3A AWACS aircraft landed at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, marking the start of a new era in airspace surveillance. Since that time, these aircraft with their distinctive radar dish have flown countless missions from the base.
Thirty multinational aircrews are assigned to the Component’s three operational E-3A squadrons and the Training Wing has a flying squadron as well; the Aircrew Training Squadron. The Aircrew Training Squadron had three Trainer Cargo Aircraft (TCA) which were used from 1985 to 2011 for flight crew training and for transporting cargo. The aircraft, modified Boeings 707-320C, could be configured for all passenger or all-cargo use, or in a combined setup for carrying both cargo and passengers.
A customised design by VRR
That is where we step in. You may recall that VRR developed customised - and thus optimised - ABY containers for these aircraft some years ago.
As the Trainer Cargo Aircrafts have now all been retired, NATO has contracted TNT Airlines to provide cargo and passenger services, starting January 2012. Unfortunately, the previously supplied containers would not fit the TNT aircraft hence VRR making a very hefty modification to the previous containers.
The principle remains the same, a compartmented container in which each compartment features adjustable shelves. Some of the luxury items such as side access hatches have been lost in the process for budgetary reasons. We hope NATO will appreciate working with the updated containers for a great length of time.