Boom Times

Speaking with reporters at AFA’s Air & Space Conference Tuesday afternoon, Boeing VP for Tanker Programs Mark McGraw announced that the Chicago aerospace company had made history on Sept. 21 with a flight test of its fifth-generation KC-767 tanker boom. During the tests at the company’s Wichita, Kan. facility, the fly-by-wire boom was used in several vertically and horizontal positions during flight, effectively taking the aerodynamic shape and size of earlier boom systems and giving it more precision and responsive controls for the operator. The boom can automatically correct its position to reduce potential damage to the receiving aircraft and is far easier to maintain, McGraw said. Boeing is currently building tanker for Italy and Japan and will deliver the Japanese tankers in February 2007 followed by deliveries to Italy by mid-year. McGraw said the capability will make proven platforms even more effective with the upcoming USAF tanker competition.