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Sixth aircraft joins KC-46A tanker test fleet

Boeing has bolstered its flight-test fleet for the KC-46A programme to six aircraft, as the company strives to complete a development campaign with the 767-based tanker.

The latest addition – Boeing's second low-rate initial production example – made its debut flight from the company's Everett site in Washington on 29 April. The new asset will be dedicated to tasks including electromagnetic testing, the company says.

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"Adding another tanker will help us to become even more efficient and significantly improve our ability to complete test points," says Jeanette Croppi, its KC-46A tanker test team director. Boeing has so far logged 1,600 flight hours with its previous five aircraft since the first flight of a 767-2C prototype in December 2014. The fleet has also made more than 1,200 wet contacts during which fuel has been transferred to a variety of receiver aircraft.

Meanwhile, Boeing says it is reconfiguring one of its 767-2Cs to the KC-46A configuration, which will enable it to have four fully equipped tankers to support its test activities.

The US Air Force is expected to acquire an operational fleet of 179 767-based tankers, with the type to replace some of its oldest Boeing KC-135s.

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