Boeing will begin putting together the first aerial refueling boom for the US Air Force's new KC-46 tanker at a new assembly center that opened on 16 October in Seattle, Washington.
"We're pleased that this facility opened on schedule," says Maureen Dougherty, Boeing's KC-46 programme manager. The opening of the facility marks the transition of the new boom from the design phase and to the production phase, Boeing says.
Once the first boom is completed, it will enter into testing at a system integration lab during the third quarter of 2013. The KC-46 boom is based on the system used on the McDonnell Douglas KC-10 but uses new fly-by-wire controls.
The next major step for the programme is the aircraft's critical design review, scheduled for the summer of 2013. "Boeing continues to make good progress toward delivering the KC-46 tanker on schedule," says Maj Gen John Thompson, the USAF's KC-46 programme executive officer.
Boeing is contracted to deliver 18 operational KC-46 tankers by 2017. The USAF plans to buy a total of 179 KC-46 tankers.