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Flight scare grounds RAF Voyagers
The RAF is to pause flying of its military-registered Voyager planes after one plummeted several thousand feet during a flight to Afghanistan.
Some of the 180 passengers and 10 crew on the Airbus A330 were left with minor injuries after the incident on February 9, which saw the plane diverted to an airfield in Turkey.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed that it had been decided to "temporarily pause" flying of the military-registered Voyager while a full investigation is completed.
The Voyager, which was provided to the RAF under a £10.5 billion private finance initiative with the AirTanker consortium, has a dual role as an air-to-air tanker and transport aircraft, replacing the long-serving VC10 and TriStar planes.
During the incident on Sunday, the aircraft is believed to have dropped "several thousand feet" for unknown reasons, causing some p assengers and crew to suffer "bumps and bruises". Affected passengers are being brought back to the UK on another aircraft.
The crew levelled the plane out, and it was diverted to Turkey, where investigations have begun into what could have caused the sudden drop in altitude.
An MoD spokesman said: " MoD can confirm that a Voyager aircraft suffered an in-flight issue on 9 February and as a precaution diverted to an airfield in Turkey.
"A few passengers received minor injuries during the incident.
"The safety of all our air crews and passengers is our paramount concern, therefore it has been decided to temporarily pause military-registered Voyager flying while a full investigation is completed."
The RAF has civil-registered Voyagers, which fly to the Falklands and other places, and military-registered ones which fly to Afghanistan.
The military-registered planes have been grounded as a precaution while investigations are carried out, but the civil aircraft will continue to fly.
It is thought that the incident could result in delays to some personnel flying to and from Afghanistan. Alternative travel arrangements are being put in place.