Ground engineers and technicians support KC-46 tanker testing


Edwards Air Force Base personnel have been supporting the refueling testing of the KC-46A Pegasus that has been carried out in the Pacific Northwest over 1,000 miles away from California. They have been working on engineering and development of modifications to validate the fuel delivery from the tanker to various aircraft, which forms part of the testing and qualification for the KC-46A.

A number of aircraft at Edwards AFB in southern California have been modified with fuel pressure sensors and a recording device called a battery operated data-10 (BOD-10) acquisition system to record fuel flow and pressure during refueling operations. The data from these aircraft will support the KC-46’s air refueling certification for a variety of aircraft. The units can also record an aircraft’s ability to receive fuel from other types of tankers.

More than 13 different aircraft types will be fitted with the BOD-10 modification, including F-15 Eagles and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs at Eglin AFB in Florida. The aircraft are certified by Edwards AFB personnel to receive fuel from the KC-46, said Rosie Feord, the 412th Test Engineering Division modification manager for the KC-46 program.

The battery-powered unit was chosen because installation is easier and less expensive. The alternative would be building and installing a unit that ran off the aircraft’s internal power, a process that would require taking an aircraft apart to run wiring.

In addition to the BOD-10s, work is now underway to build flight test engineer workstations, which will be installed in the KC-46 and collect data for the air refueling certification. According to Feord, these are the most important pieces of the puzzle.

Greg Didoha, the lead engineer for the workstations, has been working on the design since February 2015. “The design of the workstation was part of a requirement that we could get a plane out here, put our stuff on really quick, plug into the airplane and go fly test points,” Didoha said. “When they’re all done we pull of our pallet and the plane goes away.”

Didoha says the workstation is basically modular and is outfitted with equipment specifically for the KC-46 but that could be tailored to other projects without any permanent modification to the structure: “We can reconfigure it however we want to. If a plane can hold a pallet we can probably slide this on, reconfigure it and go.”

July 1, 2016

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