THE US FEDERAL Aviation Administration will have access to a key US Air Force test aircraft for at least six months, to enable it to complete turboprop-icing tests.

The Boeing NKC-135A icing tanker based at Edwards AFB, California, which was used by the FAA in 1994, and again earlier this year to test turboprop aircraft susceptibility to large- droplet icing, was scheduled for retirement on 1 June.

The icing tests resulted from the October 1994 crash of an American Eagle ATR 72. The aviation agency now plans to require manufacturers of 26 regional-turboprop types to test their aircraft also. Use of the NKC-135A would ease the research effort.

The FAA says that the USAF agreed to extend NKC-135A operations for six months, despite funding constraints. The USAF is reviewing whether the tanker should be mothballed after that.

Source: Flight International