New Era for Refuelling Aircraft

New Era for Refuelling Aircraft 21 April, 2020

Aerial refuelling is undoubtedly a strategically important element that directly affects the flight profile of the aircraft and the payload they carry, hence the structure of the operation.

Airbus Defence and Space has come to an end in his work that will bring a new dimension to aerial refuelling. On April 17, the company announced that the A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport / Multi-Purpose Tanker Transport) aircraft was performing fully autonomous refuelling with another platform for the first time using a boom. In the event, an F-16 Fighting Falcon Block 15 MLU of the Portuguese Air Force was successfully fueled using the A3R (Airbus Air-to-air Refueling) system. Prior to this test flight, the company had made 120 dry contacts with the aforementioned platforms over the Atlantic Ocean in 120 test hours. Following the completion of the testing process, the certification process is planned to be completed in 2021.

According to the statement from Airbus, the A3R does not require any additional equipment on the receiver aircraft. The system, which reduces the workload of the boom operator, prevents possible risks from human error, increases flight safety and increases replenishment-time efficiency. The company considers A3R as an important step in the development of fully autonomous platforms in the future.

A3R needs to be activated manually by the relevant operator. After its operation, the system guides the refuelling boom to the aircraft with a centimetre level precision by calculating the necessary connection moment and orientation parameters with the help of advanced image processing algorithm and data from the sensors. After the fuel transfer process is completed, the boom is automatically retracted to the safe separation distance and the refuelling process completed.

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New Era for Refuelling Aircraft

Issue 86