AAR – A400M gets up close and personal with Voyager tanker

An A400M has made its first “dry” air-to-air refuelling (AAR) contacts behind an Airbus Military A330 multi-role tanker/transport, with one of the company’s “Grizzly” development aircraft having achieved the milestone last week.

Airbus Military, which supplied the image below, says 30 contacts were made with the hose basket trailing from the A330′s Cobham-supplied fuselage refuelling unit. This is a unique configuration so far, having been implemented for the UK Royal Air Force’s AirTanker-supplied “Voyager” fleet.

400 AAR 560.jpg“The tests demonstrated the stability of both aircraft when flying in close formation and while refuelling,” says Airbus Military. Previous work had been performed behind an RAF Vickers VC10 tanker flown out of Toulouse, France.

The fresh activity represents good news for the UK; the only A400M customer nation so far to also be buying the A330 as a tanker. The “Voyager” aircraft involved in the work has previously conducted “wet” refuelling trials with Royal Air Force combat aircraft, during which hose stability and fuel venting issues were encountered, as I wrote in a feature article late last month.

Fresh trials are expecetd to occur in the UK from later this month to assess whether both problems have been solved.

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