Boeing workers in Everett, Wash. on Wednesday loaded a wing spar for the first U.S. Air Force KC-46A aerial refueling tanker, starting production of that aircraft and achieving another milestone toward delivering 179 tankers during the next 14 years.
KC-46A is based on Boeing's commercial 767-200ER, a proven airframe
in service as an airliner, freighter and tanker. Boeing has delivered
more than 1,050 767s worldwide.
spar, the main structural component of the wing, is 82 feet 5 inches
long. On the aircraft, it provides critical support for flight loads
and the weight of the wings when the plane is not flying.
program’s next major contractual milestone, the Air Force’s
Critical Design Review, starts next month.
employees are also preparing the 767 production line for assembly of
the next-generation tanker’s aft and forward body structures. The
aircraft will be assembled in November and roll out of the factory in
June, Boeing will begin installation of military-unique systems on
the aircraft at Boeing Field in Seattle as well as testing. First
flight for the fully provisioned tanker is scheduled for early 2015,
with first delivery in 2016.
expects to build and deliver the first 18 KC-46As by 2017 and a total
of 179 by 2027 if all options under the contract are exercised.
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