[Avionics Today 09-28-2015] Boeing
and the U.S. Air Force have successfully completed the first flight of a KC-46A tanker aircraft. The first flight followed ongoing flights of the program’s first test aircraft, a 767-2C. During the flight, Boeing
test pilots performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems and took the tanker to a maximum altitude of 35,000 feet prior to landing.
Boeing KC-46A Tanker. Photo: Boeing.
“This first tanker flight is a key milestone for the program and we’ll now begin free air stability tests and flight controls of the boom and Wing Aerial Refueling Pods (WARPs) before conducting aerial refueling tests where the KC-46 will make contact with other military aircraft down the road,” said Col. Christopher Coombs, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager.
The Boeing team now will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation prior to the next series of flights, during which the team will deploy tanker boom and WARPs systems. Before the end of the year, the KC-46 will begin conducting aerial refueling flights with a number of U.S. Air Force aircraft. Those flights, along with the mission systems demonstrations and a recently completed ground cargo handling test, will support the two organizations’ planned Milestone C decision in 2016.