Tue, Jan 20, 2009
First Time A 737 Has Been Fueled In-Flight
Boeing recently announced some much-needed good news regarding
its delayed 737 "Wedgetail" program for Australia's air force. The
company has completed the first aerial refuelings of the
Flying at 25,000 feet above Edwards Air Force Base, CA on
January 7, Boeing pilot Ron Johnston maneuvered the 737-700
AEW&C aircraft into a US Air Force KC-10 tanker's refueling
boom envelope and maintained its position below the tanker. The 737
received approximately 14,000 pounds of fuel during two connections
with the tanker.
"The aircraft was stable, with excellent flying qualities and
engine response behind the tanker," said Johnston.
The historic flights -- the first-ever inflight refueling of a
737-based plane -- were conducted for Project Wedgetail,
Australia's airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) program.
The aircraft achieved another aerial-refueling first on January 10,
when it received fuel from an Air Force KC-135 tanker.
"The 737 AEW&C aircraft's highly automated and efficient
refueling system worked flawlessly in both tests," said Maureen
Dougherty, AEW&C Program vice president for Boeing. "This is a
key milestone in certifying the AEW&C system.
"Air-to-air refueling is a force multiplier for the AEW&C
aircraft," Dougherty added, "allowing it to stay on station for
significantly longer periods of time while providing critical
battle-management and surveillance capabilities."
Project Wedgetail includes six 737 AEW&C aircraft plus
ground support segments for mission crew training, mission support
ANN reported in November 2008 that Boeing has
announced Australia won't see its first modified plane until later
this year... three years behind schedule.
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