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Tue, Nov 04, 2014

First KC-46 Crews Prepare For Flight Tests

No Timeline Set For First Flight, But Simulation Training Underway

A select few Air Force personnel and civilians attached to the 418th Flight Test Squadron do not know when it will happen, but they know they will be among the first to fly the new KC-46 tanker when it emerges from a hangar at nearby Boeing Field.

For now, the group made up of about half military personnel and half civilians is overseeing the test and development of the new tanker, and making sure that when its wheels do leave the ground, it will do so safely.

The airplane is based on Boeing's 767-2C airplane. It's first flight will be conducted by Boeing test pilots until it is certified by the FAA. Then it will be fitted with the refueling boom and other military equipment ... and that's when The 418th detachment will take responsibility for the airplane.

While there has not been a specific timeline set for the first flight of the KC-46, the Air Force Times reports that the initial airframe may fly before the end of the year, with a modified variant flying several months later. The first contract between the Air Force and Boeing calls for four test aircraft.

For now the 418th detachment is working on simulation testing with real equipment that will eventually be installed in the airplane.

(Artist's rendering image from file)

FMI: www.af.mil, www.boeing.com

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