The U.S. Air Force has put the second Boeing-built KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft through its first flight test nearly two months after the company completed an initial refueling test of the first tanker with an F-16 jet.
Boeing test pilots carried out operational checks on the plane’s flight controls, engines and environmental systems after the aircraft took off from Paine Field in Washington Wednesday, the company said Thursday.
“Adding a second tanker to the flight test program is very important as we move into the next phase of testing,” said Col. John Newberry, KC-46 system program manager at the Air Force.
Newberry noted the service branch and Boeing will use the second tanker to evaluate exterior lighting and mission systems avionics before they combine the aircraft with the first KC-46A to share the aerial refueling test load.
The first tanker has logged at least 180 flight test hours since its initial flight in September 2015.
The service branch contracted Boeing to build 179 KC-46A tankers designed to refuel allied forces’ aircraft as well as carry service personnel and cargo.