Military

Boeing Flies USAF KC-46A For First Time

By S.L. Fuller | December 7, 2017
Send Feedback

The first KC-46 tanker for the U.S. Air Force takes off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on its maiden flight. During the three and one-half hour flight, pilots took the aircraft to 39,000 feet and performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems. The KC-46 is a multirole tanker than can refuel all allied and coalition aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients. (Photo by Marian Lockhart)

The first KC-46 tanker for the U.S. Air Force takes off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, on its maiden flight. Photo courtesy of Boeing

Boeing has conducted the first flight of the U.S. Air Force’s KC-46A tanker. The manufacturer said Tuesday the first airborne tests occurred over three and a half hours.

“We’re very proud of this aircraft and the state-of-the-art capabilities it will bring to the Air Force,” said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A tanker VP and program manager. “We still have some tough work ahead of us, including completing our FAA certification activities, but the team is committed to ensure that upon delivery, this tanker will be everything our customer expects and more.”

During the flight, Boeing said its test pilots took the tanker to a maximum altitude of 39,000 feet. Operational checks were performed on engines, flight controls and environmental systems as part of the FAA-approved flight profile. Before further flights, the team plans to conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation.

Boeing said the newest tanker is the KC-46 program’s seventh aircraft to fly. The previous six have completed 2,200 flight hours and are being used for testing and certification.

Based on the 767 airframe, the KC-46 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. Boeing is currently on contract to deliver 34 of an expected 179 tankers for to the service.

Receive the latest avionics news right to your inbox

  • Curtis Conway

    Boeing will eventually build 179 tankers for the KC-X Program, and maybe more for KC-Y. I think they will get a return on their investment, and the United States Air Force will get a superb product that will serve our great nation for another and Allies for another 50 years . . . the LORD let us live that long.

  • The Boeing corrupted FAA grants Boeing anything they want, as FAA certification of these defect riddled military tanker commercial derivitatives only 16 days after first flight of the first supposedly “Air Force delivery representative airplane” shows.

    Because of this corrupt Boeing/FAA relationship, this certification is totally meaningless as far as quality, conformity, and safety are concerned.

    Thankfully these tankers have much fewer people on them than Boeing’s also defect riddled commercial airliners do in service. Sad, though, that they are our brave and cherished military members, though. But as President Trump said to that Gold Star wife, they knew that they may die by signing up to serve. Even if it is on Boeing defect riddled and unknown safety military jets. 1