Great shakes for airborne tanker

The first Boeing KC-767A tanker, scheduled for delivery to the Italian air force in mid-2007, has completed ground vibration testing at the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Structural Dynamics Laboratory in Everett, Washington.

The KC-767 Global Tanker is a fuel-efficient, long-range aircraft specifically sized for diverse air-refuelling; cargo, troop and passenger transport; and medical evacuation missions.

‘These tests determined the structural interaction between the aircraft and the aerial-refuelling boom, and now we’re one step closer to testing the tanker’s refuelling systems during flight,’ said Keith Branch, KC-767 flight test manager.

While undertaking modifications, the Global Tanker Team equipped the commercial derivative aeroplane with a boom, a Remote Aerial Refuelling Operators (RARO II) station, centreline hose-and-drogue refuelling systems and a refuelling receptacle.

During testing Boeing has achieved several milestones, including progress in ground and in-flight smoke detection and penetration. Crews have also integrated the RARO II station and the advanced refuelling boom.

According to Boeing, the KC-767A has flown nearly 70 flights and logged more than 250 hours as part of an extensive flight test and aerial refuelling certification programme.

In addition to flight-testing the first KC-767A, the Boeing will transform seven other 767s into tankers at its facilities in Wichita and the Aeronavali Modification Centre near Naples, Italy.

Japan will receive the first of four KC-767s at the end of 2006, and Italy the first of four tankers in 2007.