Odds and ends: Boeing’s KC-46 tanker

EVERETT — Space and time limited what I could put into my story on the KC-46 aerial-refueling tanker program update, so here are some odds and ends that I had to leave out.

The tanker is based on the 767-200ER airplane, but it includes aspects of the 767-300 and -400, as well as a cockpit based on the 787.

Boeing is getting a bare-bones version ready to fly later this month — Dec. 27 or 28. That plane is the first of the program’s four test planes. It will be a 767-2C, a new airplane type that lacks any of the military features that will be on the KC-46.

The Air Force’s Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson said 23 functional tests will still have to be finished after the first 767-2C flight.

The 767-2C is an interim version being developed to allow certification testing to get underway while the first military version is still being assembled.

The first KC-46 is set for first flight in the second half of April.

Boeing workers are still reinstalling wiring bundles on that plane, the second of the four in production. Richardson said it is about 78 percent finished.

He said he doesn’t expect many more delays — if any — from rewiring work, which caused much of the delays so far. “Of the wiring they have redesigned and reinstalled, it’s working out really well.”

Tanker test flights this summer will include items that the Pentagon will consider in September when it has to decide on whether to give Boeing the green light for full production. The Air Force has ordered 179 tankers worth an estimated $51 billion.

“There’s a little bit of flex built into the summer” schedule, he said.

The Air Force does expect to find some wrinkles during test flights, but most of the airplane’s components are mature technology, so these issues should be minor, he said.

For example, the KC-46 will use the boom used on the KC-10, the Air Force’s biggest tanker. But the control system software is different, and the operator controls the boom from video displays at a station by the cockpit. In earlier tankers, the operator has controlled it from the tail using his own eyes.

“It’s been done” before, such as on the Italian Air Force’s tanker, Richardson said.

Software integration has gone fairly smoothly with only a 4 percent increase in code, he said.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Business

Emerging Leader John Michael Graves. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
John Michael Graves: Champion for diversity and inclusion

Graves leads training sessions on Israel, Jewish history and the Holocaust and identifying antisemitic hate crimes.

Gracelynn Shibayama, the events coordinator at the Edmonds Center for the Arts, is an Emerging Leader. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Gracelynn Shibayama: Connecting people through the arts and culture

The Edmonds Center for the Arts coordinator strives to create a more connected and empathetic community.

Eric Jimenez, a supervisor at Cocoon House, is an Emerging Leader. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Eric Jimenez: Team player and advocate for youth

As an advocate for the Latino community, sharing and preserving its traditions is central to Jimenez’ identity.

Molbak's Garden + Home in Woodinville, Washington closed on Jan. 28 2024. (Photo courtesy of Molbak's)
Molbak’s, former Woodinville garden store, hopes for a comeback

Molbak’s wants to create a “hub” for retailers and community groups at its former Woodinville store. But first it must raise $2.5 million.

DJ Lockwood, a Unit Director at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club, is an Emerging Leader. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
DJ Lockwood: Helping the community care for its kids

As director of the Arlington Boys & Girls Club, Lockwood has extended the club’s programs to more locations and more kids.

Alex Tadio, the admissions director at WSU Everett, is an Emerging Leader. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Alex Tadio: A passion for education and equality

As admissions director at WSU Everett, he hopes to give more local students the chance to attend college.

Dr. Baljinder Gill and Lavleen Samra-Gill are the recipients of a new Emerging Business award. Together they run Symmetria Integrative Medical. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Emerging Business: The new category honors Symmetria Integrative Medical

Run by a husband and wife team, the chiropractic and rehabilitation clinic has locations in Arlington, Marysville and Lake Stevens.

People walk along the waterfront in front of South Fork Bakery at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port of Everett inks deal with longtime Bothell restaurant

The port will break ground on two new buildings this summer. Slated for completion next year, Alexa’s Cafe will open in one of them.

Alex McGinty is an Emerging Leader. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Alexandria McGinty: Her volunteer activities cover the spectrum

Volunteer events and activities take time, McGinty says, but “it’s important to incorporate them into our daily lives.”

Ahmad Hilal Abid, founder of House of Wisdom at Edmonds College, is an Emerging Leader. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Ahmad Hilal Abid: Offering students support and mentoring

The founder of The House of Wisdom at Edmonds College hopes to bridge the gap in education inequity.

Emerging Leader Jonnathan Yepez Carino (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Jonnathan Yepez Carino: Helping fund student dreams

“Proud to serve minorities.” Carino recently established a scholarship fund for Latino high school students.

FILE - In this Friday, March 31, 2017, file photo, Boeing employees walk the new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner down towards the delivery ramp area at the company's facility in South Carolina after conducting its first test flight at Charleston International Airport in North Charleston, S.C. Federal safety officials aren't ready to give back authority for approving new planes to Boeing when it comes to the large 787 jet, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. The plane has been plagued by production flaws for more than a year.(AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)
Congress summons Boeing CEO to testify after Everett whistleblower’s claims

Sam Salehpour worked on the 787 Dreamliner but grew alarmed over changes to the assembly of the fuselage.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.