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KC-46 Pegasus Tanker Program First Flight

Boeing and the U.S. Air Force completed the successful first flight of the KC-46 Pegasus tanker test program Dec. 28, 2014, according to a Boeing press release. The first EMD aircraft, EMD-1, is a Boeing 767-2C cargo variant of the popular 767 civilian airliner. The 767-2C took off from Paine Field, Washington at 9:29 a.m. Pacific Standard Time and landed three hours and 32 minutes later at Boeing Field. Following certification, the aircraft will begin to receive its military systems.

Boeing is building four test aircraft as part of the contract awarded in 2011 to design and build the Air Force’s sixth-generation tanker aircraft and replacement for the KC-135 and KC-10 fleets of Air Force tankers. The four test aircraft will consist of two 767-2Cs and two KC-46A tankers. The 767-2Cs are configured as commercial freighters and will enter flight test prior to receiving their aerial refueling systems. The KC-46s will fly as fully equipped tankers through the FAA and military certification process. The test flight was a welcome shot in the arm for the program, which has experienced budget overruns and most recently a problem with redundant mission critical wiring bundles in the wings being too close together, requiring a re-work.

Boeing is contracted to deliver the first 18 of 179 KC-46 aircraft to the Air Force by 2017.