TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A Boeing KC-46A Pegasus team conducted testing at Travis Air Force Base, California, March 7 to 10.
This testing was a combined effort between Boeing Test & Evaluation and the 418th Flight Test Squadron, Detachment 1, both of which are collocated at the Boeing Facility in Seattle, Washington.
“The KC-46A is at Travis AFB to conduct military and Federal Aviation Administration certification testing,” said Capt. Dylan Neidorff, 418th FLTS KC-46 test operations engineer. The team of 48 Boeing and four Air Force personnel accomplished both ground and flight testing during the four-day trip.
“We decided to come to Travis since the base is right in the temperature band required for the testing,” said Neidorff. Historical temperatures in Northern California average between 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Aside from the ideal temperatures, other factors made Travis the best choice.
“Because of this type of testing, we needed to offload all of our fuel. Travis has underground tanks, which makes it infinitely easier,” said Paul Briedé, test director for Boeing Test & Evaluation. “At another base we would’ve needed at least four other fuel trucks.”
“We also saw Travis AFB as a target of opportunity since they are to be one of the next KC-46 bases for AMC,” said Neidorff.
In January, Air Force officials announced Travis, as well as Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey as preferred locations for the next active duty-led bases for the service’s most modern aerial-refueling aircraft.
Since a KC-46 had never landed at Travis, the 60th Operations Support Squadron first needed to figure out how it could support.
“We did the proper research,” said Maj. Matthew Bartomeo, 60th OSS assistant director of operations. “Travis can absorb requests like this because we are built to do it.”
The airfield on base runs 24/7 operations, 365 days a year. It has one of the busiest aerial port squadrons in the Air Force and regularly supports transient aircraft.
Bartomeo and Maj. Brad Echols, also an ADO with the 60th OSS, worked with the 418th FLTS, Det. 1 to ensure the KC-46 would have fuel availability, a parking space and required maintenance supplies.
“The 60th OSS has been our one-stop-shop for contacts around the base as well as the center of the planning effort to bring the tanker to Travis,” said Niedorff. Airfield Management and Air Traffic Control professionals along with members of the 60th Maintenance Group supported with supplies the tanker team needed while on base. The 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron also helped to ensure the KC-46 had the current fuels, Niedorff added.
“We embodied that ‘there are no bounds’ here at Travis,” said Bartomeo, referencing the 60th Air Mobility Wing’s motto. “We found a way to make it happen.”
When the KC-46 team wasn’t conducting testing, it provided tours to more than 40 Airmen from the 60th AMW.
“This was an opportunity to work with Boeing and create a relationship,” said Echols. “It’s pretty exciting our Airmen got to see the new aircraft.”
According to Air Force officials, the first KC-46As are expected to begin arriving at McConnell AFB, Kansas and Altus AFB, Oklahoma in fall 2017.