SOURCE: EADS North America

EADS North America

November 12, 2009 10:56 ET

EADS Tanker Program Demonstrates A330 MRTT's Maturity With Airborne Fuel Transfer Utilizing Hose-and-Drogue System

Capabilities of Both Refueling Technologies Proposed on the Northrop Grumman KC-45 Tanker for the U.S. Air Force Proven in Flight

ARLINGTON, VA--(Marketwire - November 12, 2009) - The A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), an Airbus Military program, has performed the first fuel transfers with its all-digital hose-and-drogue system, confirming the aircraft's aerial refueling capabilities for a full range of U.S., NATO and allied nation military aircraft.

The hose-and-drogue "wet contacts" occurred November 10 during a mission that utilized both the A330 MRTT left and right under-wing pods, with more than 9,200 lbs of fuel transferred to a NATO F/A-18 fighter aircraft.

The latest refueling milestone was performed by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) A330 MRTT and followed recent daytime and nighttime refueling operations utilizing the aircraft's advanced Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS). As a result, both refueling systems on the A330 MRTT have now been demonstrated through flight tests, confirming the aircraft's maturity in preparation for the startup of deliveries to international customers beginning in 2010.

"Versatility is a key attribute for aerial refueling, and this latest milestone further underscores the A330 MRTT's capability to meet the spectrum of air refueling requirements from a true next-generation tanker aircraft," said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., Chairman of EADS North America.

The A330 MRTT's all-digital 905E refueling pods are the most modern in service today, with the capability to deliver up to 420 gallons of fuel per minute. Their 90-ft.-long hoses are designed to accommodate probe-equipped military receiver aircraft at refueling speeds of 180 to 325 knots. The refueling process is controlled from a state-of-the-art Remote Aerial Refueling Operator (RARO) station located on the A330 MRTT's flight deck behind the pilots, which also is utilized for refueling operations with the ARBS.

The RAAF A330 MRTT is nearly identical in configuration to and uses the same refueling systems as the Northrop Grumman KC-45 Tanker. As with the KC-45, Australia's A330 MRTT incorporates the Airbus Military state-of-the-art ARBS with all-electric, fly-by-wire controls, plus the two digital hose-and-drogue pods under the wings. The ARBS can deliver fuel at 1,200 U.S. gallons per minute, a key requirement for the U.S. Air Force's tanker.

This mix of boom and pod refueling technologies ensures the A330 MRTT and KC-45 can transfer fuel to all types of receiver aircraft during a single mission without reconfiguration. In addition, the wing-mounted pods allow for simultaneous multi-point refueling. The KC-45 also offers a centerline hose-and-drogue fuselage refueling unit.

The A330 MRTT is the next-generation tanker of choice for NATO and allied forces worldwide, and continues its flight test and certification effort in preparation for the first deliveries next year.

All recent competitions for next-generation aerial refueling aircraft have been won by the A330 MRTT -- with selections made by the air forces of Australia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A total of 28 A330 MRTTs have been ordered to date.

The first of Australia's five A330 MRTTs on order will be delivered in mid-2010. Conversion is complete for the country's first two aircraft, and the process is ongoing for a third at Qantas Aviation Services in Australia.

A total of five A330 MRTT aircraft currently are in the conversion and flight test process by Airbus Military: the three for Australia, plus two for the United Kingdom -- underscoring the company's ability to build, outfit and deliver the next-generation tanker at a sustained rate. In addition, the first A330 MRTT for the Saudi Royal Air Force will arrive in late November for the start of its conversion and mission equipment outfitting.

About EADS North America

EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $11 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 200,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Guy Hicks
    Vice President, Corporate Communications
    EADS North America
    Tel: 703 236 3346
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