The last customer qualification flights involving the Royal Australian Air Force's new KC-30A tankers will be flown by early November, clearing the way for two of the modified Airbus A330s to be handed over before the end of the year.
"We are now doing a final few flights with the customer to clear the deliveries," says Gabriel Garcia Mesuro, Airbus Military's head of flight operations for the A330 multi-role tanker transport. Totalling around six sorties, the work will include final activities with the Boeing F-18 and Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters, night flights and work involving two KC-30As, he says.
The RAAF will in early December take delivery of the second and third aircraft from its five-unit KC-30A programme. The latter has been modified in Australia by Qantas Defence Services and is currently being painted in Paris as part of its final pre-delivery preparations, Mesuro says. Aircraft one should be transferred in the second quarter of next year, after its flight-test instrumentation has been removed at Getafe near Madrid.
Australia's fourth KC-30A is being converted by Qantas, with the company due to receive the programme's last aircraft for modification in early 2011.
Two more A330 tankers have already entered flight testing in Spain under the UK's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft project. Mesuro says the first modified examples for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are on track to follow suit around early 2011.
Airbus Military secured military certification for its A330 MRTT design from Spain's INTA authority in early October.