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INTO A POSITIVE
AIR FORCE November 12, 2009
STILL painted in its production-
line colours, the RAAF's first KC-30A
conducted a series of post-modifica-
tion test flights on October 16 over its
future home of RAAF Base Amberley.
It was one of many milestones
reached by the KC-30A program last
month -- on opposite sides of the
On October 21, the first KC-30A
conducted its first successful refuel-
ling of another aircraft in Spain, using
its Advanced Refuelling Boom System
The boom -- which extends from
the tail to 17 metres in flight -- was
used to refuel a pair of Portuguese Air
Force F-16s over the course of a 4½
The 'contacts' were part of the
extensive ground and flight testing
being conducted by Airbus Military
with the first KC-30A in Spain.
A total of 13 'contacts' with the
ARBS were made, offloading 1.5
tonnes of fuel. It followed a series of
on-ground tests that were conducted
in September and resulted in the suc-
cessful transfer of more than 200
tonnes of fuel.
The ARBS is unique in that it is
'fly by wire' and controlled through a
Remote Air Refuelling Operator station
in the cockpit.
It can transfer up to 4500 litres per
minute, and refuel in all weather and
by day and night up to an altitude of
35,000 feet and at speeds between 180
and 325 knots.
In RAAF service, the ARBS will be
used to refuel the Wedgetail, C-17A,
or other KC-30As, as well as the F-35
Joint Strike Fighter.
Further progress was made on
October 30 with the successful com-
pletion of all flight testing needed for
civil certification of the new tanker by
the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Another step forward came at Brisbane
Airport, when the second KC-30A
took to the air after completing its
conversion modifications by Qantas in
It is the first of four KC-30As to be
modified by Qantas at Brisbane Airport
from a stock Airbus A330-200 configu-
Ground trials at Brisbane Airport
in mid-October included a test of an
aborted take-off where the brakes were
applied fully as rolling speed reached
Flight trials included a series of
four missions involving 20 hours'
flight time, including the passes over
Amberley and a long-haul flight over
The trials successfully completed,
it departed for Spain at the end of
October for final modifications.
As well as the boom refuelling
system, the aircraft will be fitted with
the latest generation digital all-electric
hose-and-drogue refuelling pods under
This will enable it to refuel Hornets
and Super Hornets.
As an example of its strategic capa-
bilities, one KC-30A will be capable of
refuelling six Hornets on a single non-
stop flight between Darwin and RMAF
In its transport role, the KC-30A
will be capable of carrying 270 pas-
sengers, while under-floor cargo
compartments will be able to accom-
modate 34,000kg of cargo pallets and
By FLTLT Eamon Hamilton
A TEAM of 33SQN members
has taken a sneak peak at our second
KC-30A and the verdict is good.
They inspected the aircraft at the
Qantas Australian Conversion Centre
33SQN will be operating the most
advanced tanker aircraft in the world
FLGOFF Aaron Jones, who pre-
viously flew BBJs with 34SQN, has
completed an Airbus A330 conver-
sion with Qantas and flown 170
hours with the airline.
He said the biggest changes to the
cockpit were the addition of air-to-
air refuelling system controls inte-
grated into the overhead panel, and
the addition of the refuelling console
behind the pilots' seats.
"Essentially, everything's in the
right place; it just looks more like
a military aircraft now than an air-
liner," FLGOFF Jones said.
Immediately behind the pilots is
the Remote Air Refuelling Operator
console, which is the workstation for
an airman aircrew member to control
all refuelling systems.
Sitting down at the station for the
first time, WOFF Darrell Bent, an
air refuelling operator (ARO), said
the design appeared more ergonomic
than he had imagined.
"It's going to be superior to what
anyone else has had until now,"
WOFF Bent said.
From the console, the ARO can
operate air refuelling and communi-
cations equipment to control the air-
to-air refuelling process.
"The pilot and co-pilot can also
get a camera feed, so everyone has
a visual of what's going on," WOFF
Tanker looking good
The aircraft promises no less a leap
forward for crew attendants, according
to LACW Daniella Olofsson.
Previously with 34SQN, LACW
Olofsson said it was "definitely a much
larger scale in terms of passengers,
especially coming from BBJs, which
carry 26 passengers maximum, to a
KC-30 which carries 270".
The KC-30A has a number of com-
bat systems to give it better situational
awareness and self-protection.
Avionic technician CPL Mark
Caesar will be one of the 33SQN
members making the leap from the
B707 to the modern KC-30A.
"They're two completely different
aircraft," CPL Caesar said.
"It's going to be a lot safer -- the
B707 was a great aircraft, but the mod-
ern systems on the tanker are what you
need in a modern environment."
Amberley shares in milestones
UP CLOSE: Above, 33SQN personnel who inspected the aircraft, from
left, WOFF Chris Hunter, LACW Daniella Olofsson, FLGOFF Aaron
Jones and CPL Mark Caesar. Below, FLGOFF Jones checks out the
flight controls in the cockpit.
Photos: LAC Scott Woodward
HELLO YELLOW: The KC-30A over RAAF Base
Amberley during post-production test flights.
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