Start your engines. Boeing’s test team has its own pit crew. The Advanced F-15 test team has adopted a refueling method similar what you might see in professional car racing, where the cars refuel without stopping their engines. For U.S. service members, it’s a technique used in combat, which allows airmen to land, refuel, and get back to the fight quickly. Boeing’s test team went through extensive training with the U.S. Air Force and achieved certification to safely refuel the F-15 with one engine running.
The hot pit is in action at Boeing’s Palmdale, Calif. test facility helping aircrew get back in the air quickly to flight test new upgrades to the Advanced F-15. “Before we started using this technique, it could take us two hours to refuel a test jet on the ground and relaunch it,” said Mike Bruner, BT&E Flight Test Maintenance manager. “Hot pitting helps us cut that to 20 minutes or less, saving time and manpower, and creating efficiencies for our customers.” Watch the video to see Boeing’s test team in action. The team hopes to find ways to replicate this efficiency, using hot pit refueling on other programs in the future.