EADS’s Military Transport Aircraft division is poised to conduct the first flight of its air refuelling boom system (ARBS)-equipped Airbus A310 demonstrator, following the successful completion of preparatory checks at EADS Casa’s Getafe plant near Madrid last week, writes Craig Hoyle.

The aircraft underwent electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing on the flight line at Getafe on 13 February, having already passed major system and engine tests conducted late the previous week.

Programme officials describe the successful conclusion of EMI and EMC testing as “the last hurdle” before the company-developed refuelling boom can enter an initial flight test campaign expected to conclude late this year.

While EADS Casa declines to release the scheduled date for the ARBS-equipped A310’s flight debut, Carlos Suarez, its vice-president for Airbus military derivatives, confirms: “The aircraft will fly very shortly.” Flight International was last week given exclusive access to the demonstrator, which has been equipped with a prototype operator station and test equipment, including cameras near its wing tips and in the boom mast.

Meanwhile, EADS has clarified its test schedule for the ARBS design, which had originally been expected to take to the air for the first time in mid-2005. “The initial schedule for the flight tests was based on our technical objectives and was not linked to any customer,” says Suarez.

The company is meeting all its contractual requirements with launch customer, the Royal Australian Air Force, he says. Canberra will receive five boom-equipped A330-200 multi-role tanker transports from 2009.

Source: Flight International