During the three and one-half hour flight, pilots took the aircraft to 39,000 feet and performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems. The KC-46 is a multirole tanker than can refuel all allied and coalition aircraft compatible with worldwide aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.
Boeing has subjected an aerial refueling aircraft under primary in-flight tests in preparation for its scheduled delivery to the U.S. Air Force in 2018.
Col. John Newberry, system program manager of the US Air Force KC-46 said: "It's another milestone for the US Air Force and Boeing team as it helps us move closer to delivering operational aircraft to the war fighter". Prior to subsequent flights, the team will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation. "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".
According to reports, the new tanker is the seventh KC-46 aircraft to fly till date. The earlier six are now being used for testing and certification, and have completed 2,200 flight hours and over 1,600 "contacts" during refuelling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, KC-10 and KC-46 aircraft. The USAF had expected Boeing to deliver the first KC-46 by the end of 2017.
KC-46A is designed for multirole use including passenger, cargo and patient transport and is geared to refuel allied and coalition aircraft that meet worldwide aerial refueling procedures.
Boeing is now under contract to produce 34 of potentially 179 Air Force aerial tankers.