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Frontiers May 2013 Issue

replaced by Boeing’s new 767-based next-generation, multi-role tanker, the KC-46A. Boeing remains on plan to deliver the initial 18 combat-ready tankers by 2017. Despite the technological advancements, the midair rendezvous of a refueling opera-tion still requires clear communications and precise coordination, according to Canada. The two aircraft need to be about 12 feet (3 meters) from one another in order to make a fuel connection. The KC-135 pilot stays in constant communication with the receiver aircraft to bring it in close to the tanker, Canada explained. Once the two aircraft are within a half-mile of each other, the boom operator takes over, guiding the receiver aircraft into precise position for refueling behind the tanker. Next, the boom operator guides the refueling boom to the receiver aircraft’s refueling receptacle. Once contact is made, fuel pumping begins. When the fuel’s been transferred, the boom operator triggers a disconnect, the boom is released, the two aircraft separate and the receiver aircraft departs. “Being a boom operator is one of the most exciting jobs in the Air Force Reserve,” Canada said. “Not only have I been able to see the world, but my perspective of the big picture is much clearer as the Air Force carries out its various missions including the fight against terrorism.” She has served as a KC-135 boom operator in just about every major conflict over the past several decades, including Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring “There’s camaraderie both in the military and at Boeing. You take care of each other; you support one another … much like a family.” – Nicole Canada 24 BOEING FRONTIERS / MAY 2013


Frontiers May 2013 Issue
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