20 Mei 2011

Australia Could Get First Two A330 Tankers in June

20 Mei 2011

A330 MRTT cutaway (photo : XAV)

Australia could take delivery of its first delayed A330-based multi-role tanker/transports in June, while AirbusMilitary has received certification for a safety modification to the type's fly-by-wire refuelling boom.

Aircraft two and three from the Royal Australian Air Force's eventual five-strong KC-30A fleet have been awaiting acceptance at the company's Getafe site near Madrid, Spain since late last year.

"Our expectation is that both aircraft will be in Australia in June," said Antonio Caramazana, Airbus Military's vice-president derivative programmes. "Our Australian customer is very conscious of the aircraft's capabilities, and would like as mature a system as possible when it enters use."

The first aircraft to have been converted is having instrumentation removed by Iberia Maintenance following the completion of flight-test activities. It will then have a new air refuelling boom system installed, to replace the one which was lost during a training mishap involving a Portuguese air force Lockheed Martin F-16 in January. Delivery could occur "towards the end of this year", Caramazana said.

Company officials speaking at Getafe on 18 May refused to reveal full details of the January incident, but said it was the result of human error and that "the boom was not out of the [flight] envelope". A human/machine interface modification that adds a stick-shaker function to the boom operator's controls will give "better feedback" in the future, it said. The enhancement was certificated on 29 April, but has not been requested by the Australian customer.

Airbus Military is in negotiations with Australia's Defence Materiel Organisation over a commercial settlement linked to the late handover of the KC-30A fleet, said Caramazana. Once this process has been completed the RAAF could receive four of its aircraft this year, with the last to follow during 2012.

Conversion work on aircraft four is about to be completed by Qantas Defence Services, with this to fly in August. The RAAF's last A330 is due to be flown to Australia from Toulouse on 22 May and will enter conversion next January.

Meanwhile, Airbus Military has confirmed plans to display Saudi Arabia's first of six A330 MRTTs at the Paris air show in June.

The General Electric CF6-engined aircraft will be delivered later this year, following the receipt by August of technical certification and qualification, Caramazana said.June.

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