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Air Force testers cleared for Pegasus

Capt. Julio Alvarez (left) and Lt. Col. James Quashnock stand in front of EMD-1, the 767-2C freighter that first flew to Boeing Field late last year, shortly after they were cleared to participate in flight testing. The Airmen, both experienced flight test pilots, will be responsible for military certification of Pegasus systems. (Courtesy photo)

Capt. Julio Alvarez (left) and Lt. Col. James Quashnock stand in front of EMD-1, the 767-2C freighter that first flew to Boeing Field late last year, shortly after they were cleared to participate in flight testing. The Airmen, both experienced flight test pilots, will be responsible for military certification of Pegasus systems. (Courtesy photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio --

Now that Boeing has two aircraft -- one a 767-2C freighter and one a militarized KC-46A Pegasus tanker -- in the air, the program expects flight testing will really get off the ground. 

The path forward is for flight testing to validate that the aircraft meets performance requirements and achieves both Federal Aviation Administration and military certification.  Under the "test once" architecture, KC-46 will test systems once for both certifications.             

So, it was vitally important to get Air Force developmental test crews cleared to participate in flight testing.      

"Our EMD test program depends on an integrated effort between the Boeing and Air Force test teams.  Strong teamwork has been a hallmark for this group, so I'm excited to see them execute flights as one joint crew," said Brig. Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, the program executive officer for tankers at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.

The Air Force Test Center team can now work side by side with Boeing and FAA officials to put the aircraft through a gauntlet of evaluations, methodically testing and validating that systems perform as expected. 

"These are exciting times because each flight progresses through its demonstration toward meeting the warfighter requirements.  There is still a lot of work on the horizon, but our flight path is set," said Col. Christopher Coombs, the KC-46 system program manager. 

The Air Force contracted with Boeing in February 2011 to acquire 179 KC-46A refueling tankers to begin recapitalizing the aging tanker fleet.  The program is currently working to meet the required assets available date, a milestone requiring 18 KC-46A aircraft and all necessary support equipment to be on the ramp, ready to support warfighter needs, by August 2017.

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