Airbus introduced the first automatic aircraft refueling. It works without the help of a person, the operator should only control the process.
Airbus announced the completion of tests of the world’s first fully autonomous air-to-air (A3R) refueling system. The Airbus test aircraft, equipped with the Airbus A3R fueling system, completed a cycle of 45 flights and 120 fueling contacts with the Portuguese Air Force fighter.
The Airbus A3R system is being developed for installation on an Airbus Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft, which is based on the civilian Airbus A330. Certification of the program will end in April and will begin to be used early next year.
As noted in Airbus, the A3R system will be able to take on the entire refueling process, the air refueling operator (ARO) will only control the process. All he needs to do is activate the system. The A3R takes charge of the refueling bar, flying a few centimeters from an airplane that needs refueling. As soon as the system is leveled, it extends the telescopic beam to the receiver, transfers fuel and flies off to a safe distance. To work with the A3R system on the receiving aircraft, you do not need to install additional equipment.
“The achievement of this key milestone for the A3R program highlights the superior capabilities of the A330 MRTT and reaffirms that our tanker is the global benchmark for future fueling operations,” said Didier Plantocost, Airbus Fueling Program Manager. “We express special thanks to the Portuguese Air Force for their continued support and assistance in this important development.”