This year should prove to be a momentous one for the Airbus Military A400M. On the last day of April, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) granted the multinational airlifter–also dubbed the Grizzly–its initial type certification shortly after the five-aircraft test fleet had notched up the type’s 1,000th flight.
The recent comprehensive preliminary design review for the KC-46 tanker uncovered no significant issues beyond what was known from the three reviews already conducted since the engineering manufacturing and development (EMD) contract was signed in February 2011, according to Chuck Johnson, Boeing vice president for mobility. “We are a low-risk program being managed as moderate risk,” he told journalists in Washington last month.
Ten conversions of Airbus A330 airliners into Multi Role Tanker Transports (MRTTs) for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF), which were scheduled to be done by Cobham Aviation Services at Bournemouth Airport in the UK, have been switched to Airbus Military (AM) at Getafe, Madrid. Nearly half of the 675 workers at Bournemouth will lose their jobs because of the switch.
In a preliminary NTSB report on the June 3 Lockheed P2V Neptune tanker accident 20 miles north of Modena, Utah, the board said, “While conducting its second retardant drop of the day, Tanker 11 followed behind the lead airplane into the drop zone.
The Airbus Military A400M is spreading its wings, as the once-troubled program makes progress toward first delivery early next year. The airlifter went to South America last month and Southeast Asia this week, for viewing by potential customers. The company said last November that it hopes to sell about 300 A400Ms over the next 20 years, and that the first production slots for new customers are available in 2016-17.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) advises that “prudence and strong management attention” are required during the development phase of the U.S. Air Force’s KC-46A aerial refueling tanker. In a report to Congress, the GAO repeated concerns expressed last fall that the program faces schedule and technical risks.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) will decide on a new multi-role tanker transport by year-end. Bids for six aircraft from Airbus Military for the A330MRTT and from Ilyushin for the Il-78MK are now being compared, Airbus Military market development vice president Ian Elliott told AIN in Delhi this week. The new in-flight refuelers will augment the existing fleet of six Il-78s, which has been in service for over half a decade at Agra airbase.
Having delivered a pod-equipped Boeing 767 multi-mission tanker transport (MMTT) to the Colombian air force in late 2010, IAI’s Bedek Aircraft division has now added a flying boom option to its MMTT offering. The design of the boom has been finalized and testing completed. The boom is an IAI-designed fly-by-wire (FBW) unit controlled from a remote air refueling operator’s station on the flight deck.
Eyeing regional requirements, including here in Singapore, Airbus Military has brought an A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) to the show. It is one of 14 destined for the UK Royal Air Force’s future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA) fleet. A total of 28 MRTTs have been ordered by four countries.
The French Air Force will sign a contract for between five and seven A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transports in 2013, with quick deliveries foreseen, according to its commander General Jean-Paul Palomeros. Budget difficulties thwarted earlier French attempts to procure a new tanker.