The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Boeing's KC-46 tanker program an Amended Type Certificate (ATC) for its core 767-2C aircraft configuration, verifying that the fundamental design of the KC-46 tanker is safe and reliable.
The 767-2C is a modified version of the company's commercial 767 with revised structure, wiring and plumbing.
"This is a key building block for the KC-46 program in that it retires risk and builds confidence as we continue our test efforts and work to complete the next phase of certification," said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A tanker vice president and program manager. "The US Air Force is getting an efficient, reliable, combat capable tanker and we appreciate the FAA's collaboration to ensure the aircraft is the best it can be."
In order to receive the certification, Boeing's team, which included Commercial Airplanes and Defense, Space & Security personnel, completed a series of analyses and lab, ground and flight tests that focused on the aircraft's fundamental capabilities including avionics, auto-flight and environmental control systems, as well as its new fuel system. The resulting data validated that all systems operated as intended.
The ATC is one of two FAA airworthiness certifications required for the KC-46 program. A combined Boeing/Air Force team has been concurrently completing Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) work, which encompasses the military systems that are installed on the 767-2C to make it a tanker.
"We continue to make good progress on the STC effort – 83 percent complete at present – and have moved into the FAA flight-testing phase," Gibbons added.
The program has six aircraft that have supported various segments of ATC and STC testing. Overall they have completed 2,200 flight hours as well as more than 1,600 "contacts" during refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, KC-10 and KC-46 aircraft.
The KC-46, derived from Boeing's commercial 767 airframe, is built in the company's Everett, Wash., facility. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 34 of an expected 179 tankers for the US Air Force.
The KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.