The KC-46A tanker has finished flight tests needed to obtain its second of two airworthiness certifications from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The flight tests have been conducted following a successful refuelling / communications flight with a C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft.
“This is a huge milestone for the program and moves us closer to first KC-46 delivery,” said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A tanker vice president and program manager. “We’ve got the best of Boeing working together to ensure the Air Force is getting a game-changing tanker with unmatched capabilities.”
As part of STC testing, the combined Boeing/Air Force team had to validate both the boom and drogue systems for aerial refueling with multiple receiver aircraft. They also demonstrated the KC-46 can take on fuel from KC-135, KC-10 and other KC-46 tankers, conducted night and day lighting tests and tested the aircraft defensive systems and avionics.
“While the majority of our testing was conducted out of Boeing Field in Seattle, we connected with assets out of Nellis and Edwards Air Force Bases and also travelled to Naval Air Station Patuxent River for centerline drogue system testing,” said Jeanette Croppi, KC-46 test program manager. “This was truly a great team effort.”
The KC-46, derived from Boeing’s 767-2C design, is built in the company’s Everett, Washington, facility. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 34 of an expected 179 tankers for the USAF.
The program has six aircraft that have supported various segments of ATC and STC testing. Overall they have completed 2,900 flight hours as well as more than 2,500 “contacts” during refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, KC-10 and KC-46 aircraft.
The KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.