ST. LOUIS, Jan. 24, 2007 -- A Boeing [NYSE: BA] KC-767 Tanker yesterday logged another major milestone when its aircrew used the fifth generation, fly-by-wire boom (a telescoping tube used to deliver fuel to military aircraft) to make a series of "dry contacts" with a B-52 bomber assigned to the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
"Making contact with a receiver is a huge step for our first KC-767," said Lt. Col. Roberto Poni, Italian Air Force Tanker program liaison. "We're pleased about the important milestone just completed and look forward to further testing of both the boom and wing aerial refueling pod systems."
The advanced boom builds on the aerodynamic shape and size of previous systems and can transfer 900 gallons (3,400 liters) of fuel per minute. Providing more precise and responsive controls to the operator, the boom automatically corrects its position to reduce potential damage to the receiver aircraft. With 2,600 fewer parts than previous booms, it also is easier to maintain.
"Our path forward includes more dry contacts, refueling a variety of receivers and testing the entire system. Not only will these milestones help us provide KC-767 Tankers to Italy and Japan, they will help Boeing deliver a proven boom and aerial refueling capability to the U.S. Air Force for their KC-X Tanker," said Mark McGraw, vice president, Boeing Tanker Programs.
Boeing is competing for a contract to replace the U.S. Air Force's KC-135 Tanker fleet. A final Request for Proposals for the KC-X program is expected soon followed by a contract award announcement in the summer.
Boeing has produced nearly 2,000 tankers in its history and currently is building four tankers each for Italy and Japan. The KC-767 has logged more than 200 flights and 600 hours during its flight test program.
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