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Boeing Tests New Boom on KC-767 Tanker

WHIPPANY, NJ - -- Smiths Aerospace played a key role in supplying the aerial refueling boom control actuation system for Boeing’s fifth-generation KC-767 Tanker boom flight-test on September 21. This event began a new chapter in aerial-refueling history by flight-testing the KC-767 Tanker boom for the first time.

“The design of the KC-767 boom actuation control system substantially enhances reliability,” commented Dave Bina, vice president, KC-767 Tanker Programs at Smiths Aerospace. “This integrated system contains the hardware and software necessary for motion control of the boom throughout the full operational envelope, providing greater value for our customers.”

During a complex series of tests in Wichita, Kan., the test team deployed the fly-by-wire boom (a telescoping tube used to deliver fuel to military aircraft) to several vertical and horizontal positions during flight and successfully demonstrated integration between the aircrew operator and the world’s most advanced refueling system.

“We’ve taken the proven aerodynamic shape and size of previous systems and made the KC-767 boom even more capable and reliable,” said Mark McGraw, Boeing vice president for Tanker Programs. “The fly-by-wire system provides more precise and responsive controls to the operator, automatically corrects its position to reduce potential damage to the receiver aircraft and is easier to maintain.”

The evolutionary design also features a full-time Independent Disconnect System that improves safety dramatically by allowing the boom operator to disconnect from the receiver aircraft at any time. The boom actuation control system controls the operation and movement of the air-refueling boom, a critical component of the tanker.

Boom testing will run for several weeks and is the first in a series of extensive air-refueling tests that will be conducted in upcoming months. As of September 21, the KC-767 Tanker has logged more than 129 flights and about 380 hours.

Boeing is building tankers for Italy and Japan, with delivery to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force in February 2007, followed by delivery to Italy in mid-2007. In addition to flight-testing the KC-767 for international customers, Boeing is competing for a contract to build the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft.


A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $30.8 billion business.

Smiths Aerospace, a part of Smiths, is a leading transatlantic aerospace systems and equipment company, with more than 11,000 employees and $2 billion revenues globally. The company holds key positions in the supply chains of all major military and civil aircraft and engine manufacturers and is a world-leader in digital, electrical power, mechanical systems, engine components and customer services.

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Smiths Provides Boom Control System for Boeing 767 Tanker Flight Tests