An EADS airborne tanker scheduled for delivery to the United Arab Emirates lost its refueling boom Monday while on a test flight over Spain, Aviation Week is reporting.
The EADS tanker, based on an Airbus A330, was a rival to Boeing’s 767-based tanker which won the Air Force competition as the U.S. Air Force’s replacement aerial tanker.
EADS tanker refueling boom
The boom loss incident this week was the second time an Airbus aerial tanker has lost its rigid boom while in the air. In January of last year, an Australian tanker built by Airbus lost its boom while refueling a Portugese fighter jet over the Mediterranean. The boom wasn’t recovered.
Investigators at the time said the boom was being operated at the edge of its capabilities.
Boeing had noted that it has decades of experience building tankers while Airbus is a newcomer to the business.
While the incident may indicate only a minor issue, if it causes a major redesign of the boom, Boeing could see its status in a competition for new tanker business elevated.
The Airbus tanker is based on its A330 transport aircraft.