Boeing’s second KC-46A tanker aircraft completed its first flight Friday.
The aircraft took off from Paine Field and landed later at Boeing Field in Seattle. During the flight, pilots performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems, the company said in a statement Friday.
“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 refuelling effort with the first KC-46.”
The Boeing team now will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation prior to the next series of flights. As part of the overall flight test program, the KC-46 will demonstrate it can refuel 18 different aircraft. The second tanker will help share the test load and receiver certification.
Boeing was awarded a contract in 2011 to design and develop the US Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft and is building four test aircraft – two are currently configured as 767-2Cs and two as KC-46A tankers.
EMD-1, a 767-2C test aircraft, has completed more than 260 flight test hours to date since its first flight in December 2014. EMD-2, the program’s first KC-46A tanker, made its maiden flight September 25, 2015 and has now completed more than 180 flight test hours. EMD-3, a 767-2C, will begin flight testing later this year.