The first Airbus A310 MRTT (Multi-Role Transport Tanker) converted for in-flight refuelling made its debut in Dresden, Germany, today. The German Air Force's A310 MRTT is currently the world's most modern aircraft to be used for in-flight refuelling. As a multi-role transport aircraft, it has already proved its unique flexibility and reliability not only as a troop carrier and transport aircraft, but also as an airborne intensive-care unit on numerous humanitarian missions. It takes no more than fifty hours to convert it for use in any of these roles.

Altogether, four A310 multi-role transport aircraft belonging to the German Air Force will be converted for in-flight refuelling. The conversion work is being carried out by the "Consortium A310 MRTT Luftwaffe," a joint venture of the two aviation companies Airbus and Lufthansa Technik AG. The first A310 MRTT has now been completed at the Elbe Flugzeugwerke in Dresden. By the middle of 2005, three others will have been converted by Lufthansa Technik AG in Hamburg.

As the A310 MRTT is based on a passenger aircraft, the aircraft can be maintained throughout the world within the framework of Lufthansa Technik AG's civilian maintenance and overhaul programme. This has considerable advantages in terms of operating costs compared with current military maintenance concepts.

In-flight refuelling is carried out by the means of two pods on the outer ends of the wings, making it possible for two receiving aircraft to be refuelled at the same time. The refuelling is controlled and monitored from an operating position behind the cockpit. About 1,500 litres of fuel can be transferred each minute. Four auxiliary tanks in the form of containers installed in the lower cargo hold enable the A310 MRTT to carry out in-flight refuelling missions to best effect.

As an airborne hospital, the A310 MRTT has space for up to six intensive-care units and 56 stretcher cases. With the airborne intensive-care units known as 'Personal Transport Units (PTU)' developed by Lufthansa Technik, patients are given the same standard of medical care during the flight as they would receive in an intensive-care unit in a hospital. As a troop transporter, the A310 MRTT provides up to 214 seats; in a combined cargo and troop-transport version, it is able to carry 12 pallets and 54 passengers.

The "Consortium A310 MRTT Luftwaffe" was founded in 1996 and offers a multi-role transport aircraft with unmatched flexibility and favourable procurement costs. The German Air Force is therefore a pioneer in the field of logistical multi-role transport aircraft.

The A310 MRTT is based on the civilian version of the Airbus A310-300, which has very low operating, maintenance and investment costs. The A310 has a modern glass cockpit, and can be flown with just two pilots. Five air forces are already using the highly reliable A310 as a multi-role transport aircraft.

A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK and Spain as well as subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.