KC-46 tanker passes key flight tests


Boeing’s KC-46 tanker test aircraft completed its 20th flight on November 12, 2015, marking the completion of a series of flight tests to validate the plane’s initial airworthiness to conduct aerial refueling operations.

The initial airworthiness validation is the first of two major milestones necessary for the new tanker to conduct its core mission of aerial refueling, said Boeing spokeswoman Caroline Hutcheson. The next step is fuel dock testing, when the test team validates the fuel transfer control functions.

After completing fuel dock testing, the KC-46 will conduct full refueling flight tests with six kinds of receiver aircraft, including another KC-46.

After several earlier and significant delays, the first flight occurred on September 25, after it had been postponed repeatedly since 2014. The latest news shows that the KC-46 is on track.

Formal approval from the Pentagon for production should be received between January and April 2016, if Boeing can keep up the momentum. The company must deliver 18 full-up tankers by August 2017.

November 20, 2015

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