Australian Tanker Mishap

An Airbus A330 tanker built for Australia was involved in a refueling accident with a Portuguese air force F-16 Wednesday during a training flight for Airbus staff from the company’s facility in Madrid, Spain, the Australian defense department announced Thursday. The incident resulted “in the detachment and partial loss” of the tanker’s refuelling boom, “which fell into the sea,” according to the Australian release. Both aircraft were damaged, but returned safely to their home airfields. Airbus personnel were operating the tanker; there were no Australian personnel on board. European aviation officials and Airbus will lead the investigation, but Australian experts will also participate, states the release. The Royal Australian Air Force has five A330 tankers on order. It has not taken formal delivery of any yet. An A330-based tanker is also what Airbus parent company EADS is offering the US Air Force in the KC-X competition against Boeing’s 767-based tanker.