EADS has outlined the technical features and development timetable for its aerial refuelling boom, as it prepares to enter a market it estimates at 550 refuelling platforms.

Bruno Charvéron, EADS military transport aircraft division marketing and sales director Airbus derivatives, says the project is at the preliminary design review stage before prototype rig testing in November 2004. "All equipment manufacturers have been selected, and we are building the ground test rig in Getafe, Spain," he says. "We will fly the boom on an Airbus A310-300 demonstrator by the end of 2005, then adapt it to an A330 platform."

The 127mm (5in)-diameter fuel pipe will allow a fuel flow of 4,550 litres (1,200USgal)/min, more than the 102mm-diameter boom on the Boeing KC-135, and will operate at 180-325kt (330-600km/h) from sea level to 35,000ft (10,670m). The extendable boom features V-shaped ruddevators mounted with 45° dihedral, and is controlled by an operator using the boom enhanced vision system. This features stereoscopic imaging using TV, near-infrared and long-wave IR sensors.

Ultraviolet and ultra low-light sensors are being considered, and the boom control system will include automatic connection/disconnection capability for refuelling unmanned air vehicles. An automatic load alleviation system is incorporated in the fly-by-wire boom control system to increase fatigue life and reduce weight.

EADS's biggest target for the multirole tanker transport (MRTT) is the US Air Force, to which it will offer an A330 platform. The boom could be fitted to A310 MRTTs, a hose-and-drogue-equipped version of which is being developed for the German air force. EADS estimates the USAF will need at least 100 extra tankers from 2005, in addition to its planned 100 Boeing KC-767As.

It sees opportunities for boom-equipped tankers in Europe, with Norway requiring booms instead of hose-and-drogue tankers.

The TTSC tanker team offering Boeing 767s for the UK's £13 billion ($22 billion) Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft requirement with the UK's Royal Air Force is working with Jeppesen, Preston Aviation Solutions and SBS International on development of an operations management system to reduce software integration risks with the RAF's system for managing aerial refuelling and air transport operations.



Source: Flight International