A Boeing [NYSE: BA] KC-767 Tanker made history March 5 when it successfully extended its fifth generation, fly-by-wire air refueling boom and transferred fuel for the first time to another aircraft.
During a four-hour flight over Southern California, the KC-767 aircrew connected the new tanker’s boom to a B-52 73 times and successfully offloaded approximately 10,000 lbs. of fuel to the receiver.
„This is a critical step forward for our KC-767 Tanker,“ said Lt. Col. Roberto Poni, Italian Air Force Tanker program liaison. „We’re looking forward to refueling a variety of receivers and testing the entire system.“
The advanced boom builds on the aerodynamic shape and size of previous systems and can transfer 900 gallons (3,400 liters) of fuel per minute, and provides more precise and responsive controls to the operator. With 2,600 fewer parts than previous booms, it also is easier to maintain.
„This is a huge accomplishment for our two international customers as well as future air forces that need to replace their tanker fleets,“ said Mark McGraw, vice president, Boeing Tanker Programs. „Rather than taking a risk on an unproven technology, they can take advantage of years of hard work and flight test experience and receive the world’s most advanced boom technology today.“
Boeing has produced nearly 2,000 tankers in its history and currently is building four KC-767 tankers each for Italy and Japan. The first KC-767 for Japan, which recently deployed its boom for the first time, is scheduled to be delivered soon, and the first KC-767 for Italy will delivered later this year. There have been more than 239 flights and 721 hours logged on the KC-767 during its flight test program.
In addition to flight-testing the KC-767 for international customers, Boeing announced Feb. 12 that it will offer the KC-767 Advanced Tanker for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-X Tanker competition.