Airbus Military says it is working to implement key modifications that reduce aircrew workload and improve awareness when operating the boom refueling system for the RAAF’s KC-30/A330 MRTT tankers by the end of the year.
The modifications, agreed to with the RAAF for its five KC-30s following the loss of the boom during a test flight involving a KC-30 bound for the RAAF and a Portuguese air force F-16 in January 2011, involve changes to the flight management system, management of classified radio modes, and a stick shaker for the boom.
“We have agreed and signed with the Australian customer several features of the boom, coordinated with US pilots and boomers,” Francisco Carrasco, Airbus Military’s director of the Saudi air force’s MRTT program, told media during briefings at the company’s Getafe, Spain headquarters, on May 21. “The main idea is to have additional information for pilots and boomers when close to the boundaries of operation.”
That means a stick shaker for the boom operator which activates when the boom approaches the edges of its operating boundary, while dedicated control laws for large receiver aircraft are also under development.
“We have developed dedicated control laws to reduce the workload of the boomer drastically.”
Airbus is also finalising changes to the KC-30’s flight management system software. The‘Wave 2’ FMS software will feature predefined patterns for air refueling missions, rather than pilots having to manually input waypoints, which should substantially reduce pilot workload.
Carrasco said the changes should be certified in the September-October timeframe, and implemented on the aircraft by the end of the year.