Airbus achieves world’s first automatic A3R operation
Airbus has successfully carried out the first fully automatic air-to-air refuelling (A3R) operation using a boom system, the company announced on 17 April.
The test was carried out in early 2020 over the Atlantic Ocean and involved an Airbus tanker aircraft equipped with the A3R solution which provided fuel to a Portuguese Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft.
In total, Airbus racked up 45 flight test hours including 120 dry contacts with the new system which is due to complete the certification phase in 2021.
Didier Plantecoste, Head of Tanker and Derivatives Programmes at Airbus, said: ‘The achievement of this key milestone for the A3R programme highlights the A330 MRTT’s excellent capability roadmap development and once more confirms our tanker is the world’s reference point for present and future refuelling operations.’
The A3R system does not require equipment on the receiver aircraft and has been designed to reduce air refuelling operator (ARO) workload whilst improving safety.
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