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First A330 tanker for France makes maiden flight
First French A330 MRTT. © Airbus

First A330 tanker for France makes maiden flight

Airbus Defence and Space has successfully completed the maiden flight of the first Phénix A330 MRTT tanker/transport for France, which has ordered nine aircraft to date.

Airbus Defence and Space successfully completed the maiden flight of the first A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport for France on 7th September. The aircraft, which will be known in French service as Phénix, is the first of nine ordered by the French Defence Procurement Agency DGA, plus another three expected to be confirmed.

It is the second new-standard A330 MRTT to fly, featuring structural modifications, aerodynamic improvements giving a fuel-burn reduction of up to 1%, upgraded avionics computers and enhanced military systems. The first enhanced aircraft made its maiden flight in September 2016.

The aircraft was converted in Getafe from a standard A330 assembled in Toulouse. The crew reported that the aircraft performed in line with expectations during the 3h 25min flight.

The Phénix fleet will be equipped with a combination of the Airbus Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, and will be able to carry 272 passengers or be configured for medical evacuation. The aircraft are urgently needed to replace the French Air Force’s ageing fleet of 14 C/KC-135.

First delivery is due in 2018. A total of 51 A330 MRTTs have been ordered by eight nations to date, of which 28 have been delivered.

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