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Transport - Sultan style

The fleet of the Oman Royal Flight has always been an interesting collection of types. Even though the Sultan was fond of the VC10, it certainly was never the only aircraft to choose from when in need of transportation. Photos from the 1980s show that a Gulfstream G-II carried the registration A4O-AA and a photo from the air shows a DC-8 and two business jets as well as four helicopters. After donating the VC10 to The Brooklands Museum, the Sultan used two Boeing 747SP-27s for his long-range transportation needs. Of these A4O-SP was taken out of service in 2004 and is currently stored at Roswell, New Mexico awaiting a buyer, but as of February 2016 A4O-SO still flies on in the Sultan's fleet. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see what the interior might be like.


A4O-SO (cn 21785/405) landing at Munich in February 2016
Photo Andreas Loenner via www.airliners.net

And A4O-SP (cn 21992/447) arriving in Geneva in September 1994
Photo PRM via www.airliners.net

An overview of the Royal Flight in 1987, The VC10 on the left, DC-8 A4O-HMQ on the right.

As written on the page about G-ASIX/A4O-AB the Omani registration was removed from the VC10 in December 1991 so that the Sultan was able to use it on another aircraft. It turned up on a newly aquired Gulfstream Aerospace Gulfstream IV as shown on the photo below. It was clear from an earlier photo that the Royal Flight was familiar with Gulfstreams as a G-II has been in service registered A4O-AA. In more recent years another G-IV has been added to the fleet (A4O-AC), although this airframe is now flying in Omani Air Force colours as '558', and a brace of G-V SPs registered as A4O-AD and A4O-AE.


The VC10 parked next to another Royal Flight aircraft: a Gulfstream G-II registered as A4O-AA.
Photo W. Wedrychowski

The new A4O-AB seen at Zurich in December 2003
Photo Propfreak via www.airliners.net

Next in line: a Gulfstream G-IV registered as A4O-AC.
Photo Steve Brimley via www.airliners.net

Another interesting aircraft which has been painted in these colours is Airbus A320 A4O-AA, which fits nicely with the ex-VC10 registration now in use by the Gulfstream pictured above. This was not the only Airbus to grace the fleet as shown below.

Between 1984(?) and 1992(?) there was also a DC-8 registered A4O-HMQ flying in the Omani house colours. This aircraft was a Super 73 conversion sporting CFM56-2 engines similar to those found on re-engined 707s. With this modification it was probably certified to Stage III levels making it a quite useful type. I guess that in the end the 747s were adequate for the job and because of this the DC-8 moved on to carrying cargo for Southern Air. A shame really as it would have kept another classic design flying in this special role.


One of the two Gulfstream G-V SP airframes that are now also part of the fleet (A4O-AD).
Photo Savvas Petoussis via www.airliners.net

The Airbus A320 which is one of the later additions to the fleet.
Photo FrenchFrogsAirslides via www.airliners.net

The other Gulfstream G-V SP (A4O-AE).
Photo Shahram Sharifi - Iranian Spotters via www.airliners.net

DC-8 A4O-HMQ seen at London Heathrow in 1990.
Photo Ralf Meyermann via www.airliners.net

On 14 December 2001 the Sultan took delivery of another 747, this time a 747-430 registered as A4O-OMN. It was seen a few times with its original registration of D-ARFO before moving onto the Omani register. This did not spell the end for the classic 747SP as this airframe continues to fly for the Royal Flight. This may change when the next Boeing enters service: Boeing 747-8HO BBJ A4O-HMS. Seen below just after delivery in 2012 this airframe has not been seen since which most likely means that as of now (early 2016) it is still undergoing outfitting to the Sultan's standards. Showing that the Omani Royal household is an equal opportunities aircraft operator, another Airbus has been added to the fleet in the form of A319 Corporate Jet A4O-AJ.


The Sultan's 747-400 seen against an imposing backdrop.
Photo Lars Hentschel via www.airliners.net

The next generation of Royal transportation: a 747-8 Boeing Business Jet.
Photo Brodie Winkler via www.airliners.net

I guess the Sultan liked his A320 as an A319 Corporate Jet has also been added to the fleet (A4O-AJ).
Photo Pascal Maillot via www.airliners.net

Next to all these airliners the Royal Flight has also used several helicopters and transport aircraft. At least one C-130 Hercules has been spotted flying for the Royal Flight although still carrying a military paintscheme. I have not included these aircraft on this page.

Paintscheme

All the aircraft shown on this page use the same paintscheme that was originally carried by the VC10. This consists of a green/red cheatline over an all white airframe with the Omani flag on the tail. An interesting point is that on the VC10 the cheatline showed the colours as green over red, while in later years this has been reversed to red over green. This is to do with the fact that on the Omani flag the red is also above the green. Apparently this was erroneously reversed in earlier years but corrected on later aircraft. From the photos above it is clear that it wasn't just the VC10 that used the wrong cheatline, the DC-8, G-II and 747SP also carried this version but on at least one 747SP the later variant has also been applied. Newer types have started out with the correct colourscheme.


So what does a Sultan's aircraft look like inside? Although unverified, the layout below is what the Boeing 747SP might look like. Some features:
- Executive quarters on upper deck
- Main entry hall
- Large forward lounge in the nose
- Elevator to forward cargo hold
- Built in air stairs from forward cargo hold
- Two bedrooms with twin beds, but seats only for crew rest!

Key to the drawing:

000 Flight deck
002 Crew rest
004 Crew galley
006 Upper deck access stairs
008 Crew toilet upper deck
010 Master bedroom
012 Executive bathroom
014 Cargo area upper deck
016 Cargo area upper deck
018 Cargo area upper deck
100 Forward lounge
102 Fwd lounge toilet
104 Staircase to upper deck
106 Main entry hall
108 Fwd (crew) toilet
110 Elevator
112 Staircase to Fwd cargo hold
114 Guest bedroom
116 Guest bedroom toilet
118 Radio operator station
120 Main galley
122 Chief attendants panel
124 Main hallway
126 Master dining room
128 Master dining room toilet
130 Mid lounge toilet
132 Mid lounge
134 Aft lounge
136 Aft lounge toilet
138 Mid toilet center
140 Mid toilet left
142 Staff / guest seating
144 Staff / guest seating
146 Aft toilets right
148 Aft toilets left
150 Rear galley
200 Original avionic racks
202 D. Howard converter rack
204 Fwd cargo entry area
206 Air stairs
208 Water tanks etc.
300 Aft cargo hold

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