EADS Casa has completed an initial series of six test flights to prove the handling qualities of an Airbus A310 demonstrator equipped with an air refuelling boom system (ARBS) developed as part of a bid to break Boeing’s monopoly on the military tanker market.

Conducted from the company’s Getafe site near Madrid from 16-30 March (pictured below), the flights assessed potential flutter vibration from the boom mast and checked safe operation of the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit with the boom in the stowed condition. EADS Casa concludes that “the influence of the boom installation on the aircraft handling qualities has proved to be minimal.”

A310 Tanker Aft W445

© EADS Casa

A310 Tanker boom full W445

Additional flight testing to take place over the course of this year will include dry and wet contacts with a Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter to be allocated to the trials by an undisclosed European air force.

The ARBS design will equip the Royal Australian Air Force’s four Airbus A330-200 multi-role tanker transports, deliveries of which will commence during 2009. The system is also a key element of the proposed KC-30 development of the aircraft now being promoted to the US Air Force by EADS North America and Northrop Grumman.

Source: Flight International