The Airbus Defence and Space A330 MRTT (multi-role tanker transport), designated for the French Air Force, has taken its first flight, Airbus said. The manufacturer said the crew reported that the aircraft met all expectations during its 3-hour, 25-minute flight.
Ordered by the French Defence Procurement Agency DGA, the aircraft will be called the “Phénix” when in service. The agency has ordered nine aircraft, plus an additional three that have not yet been confirmed. Airbus has taken orders for 51 A330 MRTTS from eight nations. Of those 51 orders, 28 aircraft have been delivered.
This A330 MRTT is the second of the new standard models to fly. It features structural modifications, aerodynamic improvements that give fuel-burn reduction of up to 1%, upgraded avionics computers and enhanced military systems, Airbus said. France’s Phénix fleet will be equipped with a combination of the Airbus Aerial Refueling Boom System and underwing hose-and-drogue refueling pods, the company said. The aircraft can carry 272 passengers or be configured for medical evacuation. France is expecting its first delivery next year.
The aircraft was converted from a standard A330 in Getafe, Spain, after it was originally assembled in Toulouse, France.