The French Air Force’s first A330 MRTT multi-role tanker transport has successfully conducted its maiden flight.
Conducted by Airbus Defence and Space, the 3h 25min flight saw the aircraft meet expectations, the crew reported.
To be known as Phénix in the French service, the aircraft is the second new standard A330 MRTT to fly and was converted in Getafe from a standard A330 that was assembled in Toulouse.
The Phénix fleet will be equipped with a combination of the Airbus Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods.
The aircraft will be able to carry 272 passengers and will be configured for medical evacuation.
The aircraft features structural modifications, aerodynamic improvements that give a fuel-burn reduction of up to 1%, upgraded avionics computers, and enhanced military systems.
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The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) selected Airbus in November 2014 to supply 12 A330 MRTT new-generation air-to-air refuelling aircraft for the French Air Force.
In December 2015, the DGA placed a firm order for the second tranche of eight aircraft.
The remaining three are expected to be confirmed next year when the first aircraft is due for delivery.
The second aircraft is set to be handed over in 2019, followed by delivery at a rate of one or two per year.
The A330 MRTT has been ordered by eight nations, which have now placed firm orders for 51 aircraft, of which 28 have been delivered.
Image: First flight of French Air Force’s A330 MRTT. Photo: courtesy of Pablo Cabellos via Airbus.