Think the flag is backwards on the RAF UK Voyager? you’re wrong!

Image shows ZZ336, the Prime Minister’s Voyager, landing and taxiing into RAF Brize Norton after being painted at Cambridge. (Crown Copyright 2020)
Image shows ZZ336, the Prime Minister's Voyager, landing and taxiing into RAF Brize Norton after being painted at Cambridge. (Crown Copyright 2020)

The United Kingdom’s VIP transport RAF Voyager was unveiled today in its new livery that is designed to promote the UK in the same as as other countries VIP jets do.

The Airbus A330 based Voyager ZZ336 carried out the short flight from Cambridge, where it was painted to its home at RAF Brize Norton today giving the first real look at the new livery which has been welcomed by most.

Almost immediately though there were claims that the Union Flag was backwards with some openly mocking the plane’s tail on social media.

But those that are doing so are wrong.

Image shows ZZ336, the Prime Minister’s Voyager, landing and taxiing into RAF Brize Norton after being painted at Cambridge. (Crown Copyright 2020)
Image shows ZZ336, the Prime Minister’s Voyager, landing and taxiing into RAF Brize Norton after being painted at Cambridge. (Crown Copyright 2020)

In the design of the livery the leading edge of the tail acts as the flagstaff with flag flying towards the rear of the aircraft. This means that on the right side of the aircraft the the upper quarter has a thicker white line above the red line, adversely the upper left quadrant has a thicker white line below the red line.

According to the Ministry of Defence: “The convention is for the flag design to appear as though it is flying from a flag placed on the nose of the aircraft, as it travels through the air.  When viewing the starboard side (right-hand side), this can give the mistaken impression that the design is backwards, or upside down, when in fact the observer is simply viewing the reverse side of the flag.  A keen eye will notice that this convention has been consistently applied on all flags represented on the aircraft, including on the Union Flags on the two forward-most aircraft doors.”

Image shows ZZ336, the Prime Minister’s Voyager, landing and taxiing into RAF Brize Norton after being painted at Cambridge. (Crown Copyright 2020)
A side view of ZZ336, the Prime Minister’s Voyager, landing and taxiing into RAF Brize Norton after being painted at Cambridge. (Crown Copyright 2020)

The aircraft will now return to service as VIP transport for high-ranking minsiters and officials and in between that will carry out normal Voyager duties such as Air to Air Refuelling and Personnel Transport.

Air Commodore Simon Edwards, the Senior Responsible officer for the project said: “This project was a privilege to have been involved in and I am delighted to have seen it delivered so quickly and efficiently, together with our industry partners. The aircraft’s new paint scheme will better reflect its prestige role which we are proud to undertake.”

RAF Voyager “Vespina” ZZ336 Facts

  • Based on an Airbus A330 Passenger Airliner
  • Has a range of 8000 nautical miles
  • Can carry 111 tonnes of fuel
  • Can refuel 2 aircraft at a time
  • Can carry up 291 passengers
  • Operated by just 2 pilots.
RAF Voyager ZZ336 returns home to RAF Brize Norton in its new UK Livery (Crown Copyright 2020)
About Nick Harding 1179 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.