The first operational KC-46A Pegasus completed its first flight Dec. 5, 2017, and will be delivered to the U.S. Air Force next year, according to a Boeing news release.
The KC-46A’s first flight lasted approximately 3½ hours, and included a climb to the aircraft’s maximum altitude of 39,000 feet, operational checks on engines, flight controls, and environmental systems as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved flight profile.
“Today’s flight is another milestone for the Air Force/Boeing team and helps move us closer to delivering operational aircraft to the warfighter,” said Col. John Newberry, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager.
The KC-46A that flew Dec. 5 is the seventh tanker in the program, but the first production-standard aircraft built for delivery to the Air Force. The previous six aircraft used for testing and certification were pre-production examples, but have accumulated more than 2200 flight hours, with the tanker-configured versions carrying out more than 1,600 contacts during refueling flights. The KC-46 fleet has so far refueled F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, KC-10 and other KC-46 aircraft. The tanker is derived from the Boeing 767 commercial aircraft airframe.
“We’re very proud of this aircraft and the state-of-the-art capabilities it will bring to the Air Force,” said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A tanker vice president and program manager. “We still have some tough work ahead of us, including completing our FAA certification activities, but the team is committed to ensure that upon delivery, this tanker will be everything our customer expects and more.”