EVERETT, Wash., Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Assembly has started on the second Boeing KC-46A tanker for the U.S. Air Force, two months after work began on the first.
Initial assembly efforts started last week involved loading the aircraft's wing spar into an Automated Spar Assembly Tool. The wing spar is the main structural component of the wing and provides critical support for flight loads and the weight of the wings.
The aircraft is the second of four Engineering, Manufacturing and Development test aircraft.
"Completing production of the four test aircraft on schedule is our priority as we prepare to enter the flight test phase of the program," said Maj. Gen. John Thompson, U.S. Air Force Program Executive Officer for Tankers. "The program continues to meet or exceed all contract milestones."
"We're exactly where we want to be right now," said Maureen Dougherty, Boeing vice president and KC-46 Tanker program manager. "One year from now, all four test aircraft will be out of the factory, and the first two will be flying."
The KC-46A is based on the Boeing's 767 commercial jetliner. It is set to replace the Air Force's aging KC-135 fleet of aerial tankers. As many as 179 of the aircraft will be produced for the Air Force by 2027 if all contract options are exercised.