USAF Probes Midair Scrapes Caused by Boeing KC-46 Tanker

U.S. Air Force Probes Midair Scrapes of Planes by Boeing Fuel Tankers (excerpt)

The U.S. Air Force is investigating multiple instances of scrapes on aircraft caused during mid-air refueling performed by Boeing Co.'s new KC-46 tanker.

So far, the damage caused by the fuel probe that connects the tanker with other aircraft has been minor, according to a service statement and program documents. But it's worrying enough that the Air Force issued a top-level “Category One” deficiency report on May 1 after it discovered the damage during post-test flight analysis of video and data.

The Air Force concerns center on whether the unintended contact could damage specialized coatings used on F-35 and F-22 stealth fighters and B-2 bombers, or cause structural damage, according to a program office assessment. There's also the chance a KC-46 tanker would need to be grounded if the refueling probe was contaminated with stealth coating, it said.

While there is occasional contact between jets with refueling probes on current tankers, such incidents are happening more frequently now during test sorties with the new KC-46 tanker, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Bloomberg News.

“These contact events have caused surface scrapes on the coating just outside the receptacle and are not considered a mishap,” Stefanek said in a statement. “Further analysis is required to determine if” the contact jeopardizes meeting any key requirements, she said.

“The Air Force and Boeing are performing the necessary systems engineering analysis to determine the root cause,” Stefanek added. “The analysis will then be followed by the development of options to resolve the issue.” (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Bloomberg News website.


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USAF Probes Midair Scrapes Caused by Boeing KC-46 Tanker USAF Probes Midair Scrapes Caused by Boeing KC-46 Tanker Reviewed by Unknown on 05:28:00 Rating: 5

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