A330 tanker gains military certification

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Airbus Military will deliver its first A330 multi-role tanker transport to the Royal Australian Air Force "in the coming weeks", following its receipt of military certification for the type from Spain's INTA body.

Received on 5 October, the certification "covers the design and operation of all the military systems added to the aircraft in addition to the basic civil design", Airbus says. This includes its aerial refuelling boom system and Cobham 905E underwing hose and drogue refuelling pods.

 
© Airbus Military

Reached several months later than expected, the milestone follows the mid-March award by the European Aviation Safety Agency of a civil supplemental type certificate for the tanker conversion to the A330-200.

"This confirms the A330 MRTT has satisfactorily demonstrated its global military airworthiness and the maturity of all its systems, and its full readiness to enter service with its customers," says Airbus Military managing director Domingo Ureña.

Development and certification work on the A330 MRTT has seen the type deliver more than 450t of fuel in over 280 sorties, Airbus says.

 
© Airbus Military

Australia will also receive its second of five locally designated KC-30As late this year, with the General Electric CF6-80E-powered fleet to be operated by the RAAF's 33 Sqn from Amberley air base, Queensland. The service, which retired its last Boeing 707 tanker in June 2008, should receive its remaining examples in 2011-12, according to plans outlined earlier this year.

The military certification receipt will also provide a boost to EADS North America's campaign for the US Air Force's 179-aircraft KC-X tanker deal. The company's KC-45 submission is largely based on the KC-30A model prepared for Australia. Boeing is offering the smaller KC-767 NewGen Tanker.

Airbus Military's orderbook for the A330 tanker/transport also includes six aircraft for Saudi Arabia, three for the United Arab Emirates and 14 for the UK. The type has a maximum fuel load of 111t.