An A330 MRTT bound for the United Arab Emirates lost its boom during a test flight over Spain on September 10.
Airbus Military said the boom separated cleanly at a mechanical joint as the A330-based aircraft flew at about 27,000 feet near the Spanish-Portuguese border. No one was injured and the aircraft itself suffered minimal damage, Airbus said. The boom was later located on the ground.
Airbus said it was investigating the incident, which was the second time an MRTT has lost its boom. An Australia-bound KC-30 A was refueling a Portuguese F-16 during flight testing in January 2011 when its boom broke off.
Airbus and the RAAF later agreed to a number of modifications, including changes to the flight management system and a stick shaker for the boom. The modification are scheduled to be finished by the end of the year, with the RAAF having elected not to use the boom on its KC-30s until after the mods are incorporated.
Australia operates four of the tankers, with a fifth expected to arrive this year. Airbus said the aircraft’s hose-and-drogue refueling system could still be used but advised against using the boom while the investigation continues.