Second Boeing, U.S. Air Force KC-46A Tanker Completes First Flight
This past week, the Boeing test team conducted the inaugural test flight of their second KC-46A tanker prototype. During this test flight, pilots successfully checked a number of different systems within the aircraft including its engine stability, overall maneuverability and environmental conditions.
“Adding a second tanker to the flight test program is very important as we move into the next phase of testing,”
said Col. John Newberry, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager.
“The team will initially use the aircraft to test mission system avionics and exterior lighting. Later, it will share the air refueling effort with the first KC-46.”
Once the team over at Boeing has analyzed all the data from the initial test flight, they will begin modifying the aircraft to perform refueling demonstrations. Eventually, the KC-146A prototype will perform refueling demonstrations with nearly 20 different aircraft in an effort to prove it will be compatible with both domestic and international planes. Boeing will use then data gathered from all test flights to perfect all plane system settings so that they are ready for active duty.
The KC-46A program is essential to the US Air Force moving forward, at their current fleet of KC-135 stallions has been in service for nearly 50 years. Many of the KC-135s will exceed their lifetime flight hour limits within the next decade, so having a replacement aircraft in place is crucial towards maintaining aerial refueling capabilities. If all goes according to plan, Boeing will deliver the first combat ready KC-46A tankers to the US Air Force by the 3rd Quarter of 2017.