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Boeing starts building new refueling boom for Air Force tanker

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Oct. 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
October 16, 2012 4:16 pm

Boeing marked a key transition Tuesday in its shift from design to production for one of its largest aircraft programs.

The company began building the first of a new generation of refueling booms for its new KC-46 aerial tanker for the Air Force. The boom is being manufactured at a new facility at Seattle’s Boeing Field.

That boom, designed to refuel any fixed-wing aircraft equipped with a fuel receptacle, is controlled electronically. The boom is based on a boom used in Boeing’s KC-10 tanker aircraft.

The first boom will enter testing next summer. The boom will be fitted to a modified 767 twin-engine passenger aircraft.

Boeing, in a decade-long contest, won the contract for 179 new generation aerial tankers in competition with European planemaker EADS. EADS planned to use an A-330 passenger aircraft as the basis for its tanker.

Production of the first KC-46 is scheduled to begin next summer at Boeing’s Everett factory.

The new planes, the first of which will be delivered in 2017, will replace the Air Force’s aging KC-135 tankers, some of which are 50 years old.

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