Boom Time For Boeing Tanker

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Tanker testing tempo picks up for Boeing's KC46A EMD program

EMD1, the first test aircraft in Boeing’s KC-46A engineering and manufacturing design (EMD) program, is beginning fuel system ground tests at Paine Field, Washington, following completion of initial airworthiness flights with a refueling boom and wing-mounted WARP (wing aerial refueling pods) on June 3.

(Boeing)

Even though EMD1 is a modified 767-2C and not a militarized KC-46A tanker like the second aircraft which joins the flight test program this summer, the sight of a refueling boom in the air is an important step for the pressurized program. The first airframe, which is also known as VH001, made its delayed first flight last December but continuing issues with design changes, software, wiring and parts have continued to hamper progress. However the return to flight of EMD-1 on May 28 and the rising tempo of ground tests with the first true KC-46A, EMD2, show the program is gathering inertia.

 

(Joe Walker)

EMD2 is presently located in the Everett Modification Center which was set up by Boeing originally to refurbish and rework early-build 787s. The aircraft, which will be the first to receive a U.S. Air Force tanker paint scheme, is set to begin functional ground tests of the refueling boom later this week. EMD2, also dubbed VH004, will be used for aerial refueling tests and to check the other test boxes to get to Milestone C – the all-important Air Force decision needed to clear the way for low-rate production of the first two ‘lots’ of seven and 12 aircraft.

Two further EMD aircraft, VH003 (EMD3/767-2C) and VH002 (EMD4/KC-46A), will complete the test ensemble and are due to fly by the end of 2015.

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