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Frontiers December 2013—January 2014 Issue

32 BOEING FRONTIERS / DECEMBER 2013–JANUARY 2014 with the 787, as well as aircraft health monitoring systems. The tanker also will have defensive systems and self-protection features such as cockpit armor to defend against threats and protect the crew. In short, it’s not quite like any other 767 built so far. “It’s a completely different animal to tackle in both its systems and structures, but we’ve overcome everything so far,” said Brian Miller Jr., a manager for Seal, Test & Paint for the 767 program. “I look forward to building the tanker for many years to come.” While the first test aircraft moves through final assembly, and the second and third aircraft advance toward that stage in Everett, a smaller team near Boeing Field in Seattle has started assembling the second refueling boom for the program. “This is what the tanker’s all about—the boom,” said Ron Bryant, the boom shop’s manager for Boeing Defense, Space & Security. Based on the KC-10 boom, the updated, fly-by-wire KC-46A boom will be complemented by centerline and wing-mounted hose and drogue systems. Boom mechanic Jim Cha said the second boom already reflects improvements and lessons learned in building the first test boom. What won’t change are visits by the program’s interested customer. Air Force officials have frequently stopped by the boom shop as work has progressed. In fact, the Air Force Materiel Command established the 418th Flight Test Squadron, Detachment 1, at Boeing Field earlier this year to oversee KC-46A tanker develop-mental tests. By summer 2014, the detachment could include about 40 people, with representatives from the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Defense Contract Management Agency. Pilots, boom operators, flight-test engineers and others also will work with Boeing Test & Evaluation as aircraft testing begins. Scott Campbell, vice president and general manager of the 767 program, noted that the program established the date and time for the first tanker’s entry into final assembly two years ago. The actual entry into that stage came within 20 minutes of that time. “The biggest thing we can do to keep this aircraft sold is to stay on schedule and under budget—and we’re doing that,” Campbell said. “There are a lot of military men and women serving out there who can’t wait to get this tanker into their fleet. They’re counting on us.” The initial 18 KC-46A tankers are scheduled to be delivered to the Air Force by August 2017. The first test aircraft is expected to roll out of the Everett factory in early 2014, followed by first flight later in the year. First flight of a fully outfitted tanker is scheduled for 2015. All of those milestones are represented by the first aircraft PHOTOS: (Clockwise from top left) Boom mechanic Scotty Vattana works on part of the second boom being assembled in Seattle for the tanker; Michael Hurst, left, a Body Join and Installation team lead, and door rigger Tom Yardy work on a tanker door in the Everett, Wash., factory; mechanic and team lead Kyle Babcock drilled rivet holes into the fuselage to start the final body join process on the first KC-46A test aircraft for the U.S. Air Force; Michael Contreras works on the aft body section of the first KC-46A test aircraft being assembled in Everett. BOB FERGUSON/BOEING


Frontiers December 2013—January 2014 Issue
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