EVERETT, Wash. The first Boeing (NYSE:BA) KC-46A tanker military aircraft, based on a commercial jet airframe, to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force next year has completed its first flight and airborne tests, taking off from Paine Field at 10:32 a.m. PST and landing more than three hours later.
During the flight, Boeing test pilots took the tanker to a maximum altitude of 39,000 feet and performed operational checks on engines, flight controls, and environmental systems as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved flight profile. Prior to subsequent flights, the team will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation.
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)
“We’re very proud of this aircraft and the state-of-the-art capabilities it will bring to the Air Force,” explains Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A tanker vice president 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.”
“Today’s flight is another milestone for the Air Force/Boeing team and helps move us closer to delivering operational aircraft to the warfighter,” says Col. John Newberry, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager.
The newest tanker is the KC-46 program’s seventh aircraft to fly to date. The previous six are being used for testing and certification and to date have completed 2,200 flight hours and more than 1,600 “contacts” during refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, KC-10 and KC-46 aircraft.
The KC-46, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in the company’s Everett facility. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 34 of an expected 179 tankers for the U.S. Air Force.
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.
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