US Air Force resumes KC-46A cargo, passenger operations

by Pat Host

The US Air Force (USAF) on 18 December lifted a three-month ban on Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling tanker cargo and passenger operations after the successful installation and testing of an improved cargo lock design.

The first aircraft to receive the new hardware is assigned to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, and has resumed cargo and passenger missions. The USAF said on 20 December that resuming these missions represents closing a critical deficiency.

All future KC-46A deliveries to the US Air Force will have the modified cargo locks. The original locking mechanisms, which have a rotating feature that locks them into place, were becoming slightly unrotated during flight without user input. (US Air Force)

All future KC-46A deliveries to the US Air Force will have the modified cargo locks. The original locking mechanisms, which have a rotating feature that locks them into place, were becoming slightly unrotated during flight without user input. (US Air Force)

The USAF discovered during testing that the original locking mechanisms, which have a rotating feature that locks them into place, were becoming slightly unrotated during flight without user input. General Maryanne Miller, Air Mobility Command (AMC) chief, in September 2019 called the cargo locking mechanism issue a Category 1 concern: an urgent issue with no workarounds.

USAF spokesperson Captain Jacob Bailey said on 20 December that the service has accepted 27 KC-46As. He said that 26 of these aircraft need to be retrofitted. Boeing expects to retrofit these 26 remaining tankers by March 2020. Every future KC-46A the USAF accepts will have these improved cargo locks.

A joint USAF/Boeing team investigated the issue and determined a retrofit solution. Additional hardware was manufactured and added to the initial locking mechanism to ensure it does not disengage.

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/us-air-force-resumes-kc-46a-cargo-passenger-operations

The US Air Force (USAF) on 18 December lifted a three-month ban on Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aerial refu...

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