Boeing is reporting key milestones in its production of the KC-46 refueling tanker that’ll be coming to Wichita later this year.
The company says the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently certified that the fundamental design of the tanker is safe and that all systems are operating as intended.
It’s one of two FAA airworthiness certifications required for the KC-46 program.
The tanker is now in the flight-testing phase.
McConnell Air Force Base expects the first tanker to arrive in late spring.
The new aircraft will eventually replace the U.S. Air Force’s aging KC-135 Stratotanker fleet. The Air Force ordered 179 tankers. Boeing is under contract for the first 34.
The KC-46 tanker is a modified version of Boeing’s commercial 767 plane. It’s a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures. It can also carry passengers, cargo and patients.
McConnell has been preparing for the arrival of the tankers since 2014. The base built three hangars and a dozen other projects, including a flight simulator and a fuselage trainer.