Boeing KC-46 tanker program completes flight tests, awaits FAA certification

EVERETT, Wash. Boeing (NYSE:BA) has completed all required Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) flight tests of its KC-46 Pegasus wide-body, multirole tanker following a refueling and communications flight with a C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft. Boeing officials will now submit flight testing data and reports to the FAA for review in advance of an STC award, one of two required airworthiness certifications, related to the military systems installed on the 767-2C aircraft to make it a tanker.

Boeing KC-46 tanker program completes flight tests, awaits FAA certification
Boeing KC-46 tanker program completes flight tests, awaits FAA certification

EVERETT, Wash. Boeing (NYSE:BA) has completed all required Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) flight tests of its KC-46 Pegasus wide-body, multirole tanker following a refueling and communications flight with a C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft. Boeing officials will now submit flight testing data and reports to the FAA for review in advance of an STC award, one of two required airworthiness certifications, related to the military systems installed on the 767-2C aircraft to make it a tanker.

Boeing previously received its Amended Type Certificate from the FAA for its core 767-2C configuration in December 2017. The 767-2C is a modified version of the company’s commercial 767 with revised structure, wiring and plumbing.

Kc 46 Refuels F 18 High ResThe KC-46 tanker refuels an F/A-18 aircraft on its centerline drogue system during Supplemental Type Certificate testing. The program recently completed all STC flight tests, which moves it one step closer to first delivery to the U.S. Air Force. (Boeing photo)

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’s ability to 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.

The KC-46, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in the company’s Everett, Wash., facility. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 34 of an expected 179 tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

Boeing KC-46 tanker program completes flight tests, awaits FAA certificationBoeing KC-46 tanker program completes flight tests, awaits FAA certification

"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,” explains Jeanette Croppi, KC-46 test program manager. “This was truly a great team effort.”

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.

Kc46 Tanker

“This is a huge milestone for the program and moves us closer to first KC-46 delivery,” says 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.”

Boeing has used six aircraft to support various segments of ATC and STC testing; the aircraft have completed 2,900 flight hours and 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.

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