OSRL has worked with T2 Aviation to modify and deliver two former FedEx Boeing 727-2S2F (RE) aircraft to deliver dispersant liquid (photo: OSRL)
Oil Spill Response Limited – OSRL – the largest international industry-funded cooperative that has the capability to respond to oil spills wherever they may occur in the world, has worked with British aero engineering firm T2 Aviation, part of the 2Excel Aviation group, to modify and deliver two former FedEx Boeing 727-2S2F (RE) aircraft.
In the unlikely event of an oil spill, dispersants can be used to break down oil slicks into smaller droplets so that they can be more easily biodegraded. These dispersants minimise environmental and economic damage to people, habitats, and natural resources near and on the shoreline.
Fitted with internal tanks, pumps and a spray boom to deliver dispersant liquid, the two specially adapted Boeing 727-2S2F (RE) aircraft are truly a first-of-a-kind capability for the oil and gas industry.
The Valsan engined 727-2S2F (RE) proved to be an ideal aircraft for OSRL, offering greater stability, adaptability and an almost unrivalled power to weight ratio. “OSRL’s main requirement was to acquire a more up-to-date asset that could travel further and faster than its extant capability offered by the organisation’s L-382 Hercules,” says Andy Offer, the Owner and Director of 2Excel Aviation Ltd.
Following the Macondo oil spill in 2010, a joint industry project was established to secure a suitable replacement for the OSRL Hercules.
“During the early stages of this project, the global regulations for aerial dispersants changed which meant that all aircraft dispersant systems needed to be compliant against flammable fluids,” explains Offer, a former RAF Harrier pilot and leader of the Red Arrows.
T2 Aviation Limited won the tender to source, design, modify, certify and operate a wholly new capability for OSRL. The Boeing 727-2S2F (RE) was eventually chosen. A purpose-built freight aircraft, it offered the operational stability and long-range capabilities sought by OSRL. Built by Boeing in 1984, T2 Aviation acquired the last two Boeing 727-2S2F (RE) in a production of the 14 aircraft.
“Essentially over-powered for its new role with OSRL, our two 727-2S2F (RE) aircraft offer the desired safety and operational stability which only three-engine aircraft of this type can produce,” says Offer.
“Because of their age the aircraft offered relatively low capital costs, while their metal structure meant that adapting and repurposing the aircraft was less challenging and expensive than had OSRL acquired a more modern aircraft made of composite materials. The aircraft’s JT8D-217C Valsan high bypass ratio engines reduce the 727’s noise output to comply with Stage 3 noise levels, while offering between 6 and 7% reduction in fuel consumption. The tri-engine design of the 727-2S2F (RE) offers an important level of redundancy and if one were to lose an engine, the asymmetric effect is reduced and it can still climb away rapidly,” he adds.
The first aircraft, G-OSRA, was completed and certified for use on 1st April of this year, and is now stationed at Doncaster Airport, UK. It is now ready to respond to incidents anywhere in the world within a four-hour notice. The second aircraft, G-OSRB, will be available within a few weeks.