Airbus A330 MRTT Receives Certification For Automatic Daylight Refueling OperationsJuly 22, 2022
Airbus’ A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft just received certification to conduct automated air-to-air refuelling operations in daylight. The announcement made by Airbus on July 22nd is the result of four years of collaboration with the Royal Australian Air Force and the Republic of Singapore Air Force which will be the first A330 MRTT operator to deploy the technology.
Part of Airbus Defence and Space Military Air Systems, the A330 SMART MRTT program set out in 2018 with a first flight employing a Royal Australian Air Force A330 MRTT. The program later evolved with the Republic of Singapore Air Force as a main partner, with the aim of reducing air refuelling operator (ARO) workload on the A330 MRTT aircraft. Accordingly, the development and flight test campaign of the technology was conducted in an effort to “improve safety and optimise the rate of air-to-air refuelling (AAR) transfer in operational conditions to enable air superiority” as explained by Airbus. The Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA) was later brought into the program becoming the certifying authority for a technology which also incorporated some improvements in the aircraft maintainability while on the ground.
The follow on Airbus Auto’Mate program is the company’s ongoing effort to enhance the technology by enabling Autonomous Assets Air-to-Air Refuelling (A4R) and Autonomous Formation Flight (AF2) operations. This concept, once fully integrated, is expected to be validated after a 2023-2024 flight test campaign using a Airbus A310 Tanker to autonomously refuel DT-25 Target Drones.