17 November 2014 saw the departure of two former Royal Netherlands Air Force Fokker 50s from Lelystad Airport, the Netherlands, to Peru. Four Fokker 60s had already been sold to the Peruvian Navy (Marina de Guerra del Perú) in 2010. The departure of the two Fokker 50s marked the end of the long era in which the RNLAF used Fokker aircraft. Joan le Poole (Naviation.nl) guest reports for GAR.
In October 2010 the RLNAF officially retired the two Fokker 50s, serialled U-05 “Fons Aler” and U-06 “Robbie Wijting”. The F-50s were then handed over to the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), which is responsible for selling retired military equipment. The RNLAF kept the Fokker 50s airworthy till 2012 and could operate the aircraft for 20 flight hours per month. The Fokkers were still at their home base of Eindhoven, in the south of the Netherlands.
In 2012 the RNLAF added two extra C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to the existing Dutch Hercules fleet of two. The technicians who maintained the Fokker 50s then went back to school to transition to the Hercules, and the Air Force no longer had the capacity to keep the Fokkers. The DMO decided to relocate the Fokker 50s to Lelystad Airport. Three Dutch Fokker 50 pilots kept current on the aircraft and they flew the aircraft once every three months to keep them airworthy.
The choice of Lelystad Airport was based on financial reasons. The DMO had a contract with Nayak, a civil company based at Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport, to maintain the F-50s. However, storing the aircraft at Schiphol itself was too expensive. To keep travel costs to a minimum Lelystad Airport was chosen as the storage location.
The DMO tried to sell the Fokkers and worked with several potential new owners. In January 2014 the Peruvian Navy showed interest, but the DMO was working with a Dutch civil company at that time. However, the bank was unwilling to finance the project, so it was cancelled. In April 2014 the negotiations with the Peruvian Navy began.
In 2010 the Peruvian Navy had purchased four former RNLAF Fokker 60 aircraft, which were retired in 2006. The Fokker 60 is the longer version of the Fokker 50 and these Fokker 60s fly with Escuadrón Aeronaval No. 11, based at Lima-Callao. Currently the Peruvian Navy uses two of the F-60s in the Utility Transport role and the other two in the Maritime Patrol role.
During negotiations it became clear that the Peruvian Navy wanted to receive the aircraft as soon as possible after signing the contract. In the purchase were included major overhaul, a new colour scheme and all spare parts, including one engine, one propeller and one APU. The major overhaul was performed at Köln Airport and the paint job was done by QAPS (Quality Aircraft Painting Services) at Lelystad in September and October respectively.
On 4 November 2014 the contract was signed. That week eight Peruvian pilots received their simulator training in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands. These pilots are all Fokker 60 pilots. Also several Peruvian technicians and logistics personnel were in the Netherlands to inspect the aircraft and count and pack the spare parts. On 10 November the Peruvian pilots flew an acceptance flight with each F50. On 13 November the two Fokker 50s, now serialled AE-567 and AE-568, former U-05 and U-06 respectively, officially became property of the Peruvian Navy after the signing of the contract of ownership.
The spare parts for the Fokker 50s will be shipped to Peru by former Royal Netherlands Navy replenishment ship HNLMS Amsterdam (A836), which has also been purchased by the Peruvian Navy. Renamed BAP Tacna, this ship will leave Den Helder naval harbour this month (December).
On Monday, 17 November the two Peruvian Navy Fokker 50s departed Lelystad Airport. The plan was to depart at 0900 local, but a small problem with AE-568, the former U-06, led to a half an hour delay. Just before the departure a pastor consecrated the aircraft and the crews. Each of the aircraft had one Dutch Fokker 50 pilot on board, whose task it was to advise the Peruvian crew on, for example, the weather, the route, alternative airports and how to get fuel and catering at the airports.
Just after 0930 AE-568 took off from Runway 05, followed by AE-567 just three minutes later, heading for Iceland. The two aircraft had stops in Iceland, at Goose Bay and Montreal (Canada), Jacksonville (USA), Curacao and arrived at Lima-Callao in the afternoon of Thursday 20 November.
The Fokker 50s will fly along with the Fokker 60s with Escuadrón Aeronaval No. 11. The Peruvian Navy want to use the aircraft for at least 20 years. This seems a long time, but the airframes are barely used compared to civil Fokker 50s of the same age. AE-567, the former U-05, first flew on 18 May 1992, while AE-568 first flew on 15 July 1993. The two aircraft were sold with less than 6,000 flight hours flown per airframe.
The purchase of the two Fokkers and the amount of spare parts guarantees the Peruvian Navy sufficient transport capacity for many years.