I have badgered Boeing executives unsuccessfully for more than a year to reveal the configuration of the KC-767 NewGen Tanker. Perhaps never before has so little been known about such a high-profile product. Boeing has only offered that the new tanker would based on the fuselage of the 767-200 and the cockpit would be upgraded with 787-like displays. Left unsaid is the source for the wings and the cargo layout, such as the door and the floor handling system.
My Flightglobal colleague Brendan Sobie finally solves the mystery this morning, reporting from Seattle that a Boeing source has confirmed details of the full configuration of the KC-767. Well done, Brendan!
Boeing source reveals specifications for KC-767 NewGen Tanker
By Brendan Sobie
The offering, which is currently being evaluated by the USAF along with the EADS North America KC-45 for an initial 179-aircraft requirement, will also feature a new boom. NewGen Tanker programme manager Jean Chamberlin says the new boom will have “a wider envelope than the KC-10 and is fully digitalised”. She declines to provide more details for proprietary reasons but says it will “absolutely” be developed in time for first delivery in 2017.
The article crucially discloses that Boeing is reusing the wing from the -200 version of the 767. In the previous competition, which Boeing lost before the contract award was overturned, the KC-767 incorporated the wing from the -300 fuselage. It was a major ingredient of the criticism that labeled Boeing’s offering the “Frankentanker”, with major structures borrowed from several variants of the 767.
The only mystery left with the Boeing proposal is the development status of the KC-10-derived, digital refueling boom. Is it ready to be delivered 18 months after contract award? Has Boeing tested and certificated the system? We don’t know.
EADS North America has some mysteries of its own. The KC-45 configuration is not one of them. It is an Airbus A330-200 passenger to freighter conversion, which is then modified into a tanker that is required to meet the US Air Force’s equipment specifications. But EADS has not been forthcoming about the schedule for transitioning final assembly operations from Seville, Spain, to Mobile, Alabama.