The Republic of Singapore Air Force will carry out a flight test campaign to take part in Airbus Automatic Air-to-Air refueling program of the A330 SMART MRTT, which includes the enhancement of maintenance solutions.
During the 2020 Singapore Airshow, Airbus announced the collaboration of Singapore in the development of the A330 SMART Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). A Republic of Singapore Air Force A330 MRTT will thus take part in the ongoing development, flight test campaign and final certification program of a Automatic Air-to-Air refueling (A3R) solution. Airbus A3R development — which is aiming for certification in 2021 — paves the way towards a fully autonomous aerial refueling operation. Airbus Head of Military Aircraft, Alberto Gutiérrez said: “With this agreement, the Singapore Air Force leads the evolution of the A330 MRTT, helping us to bring new hands-off capabilities to the benchmark of next-gen tanker operations”.
The collaboration include the development of maintenance solutions for the A330 MRTT. Enhanced maintenance equipment will allow ground crews to detect and troubleshoot directly from the aircraft’s cockpit the root cause of a failure. This new upgrade enables faster resolution of ground tasks while providing the means for maximizing the efficient use of spare parts.
Airbus Automatic Air-to-Air refueling system.
The A3R system is activated by the air refueling operator who shall simply monitor the operation, thus reducing his workload. During this process, intended to improve safety and optimise the rate of air-to-air refueling, the Boom Flight Control System becomes fully automated and progresses to transfer fuel upon contact with the receiver. Airbus specifies: “In the event of an anomaly due to receiver stability deviations or malfunctions on the tanker, the A3R system is able to disconnect and/or clear the Boom away from the receiver safely”.
In July 2018 Airbus demonstrated that A3R was feasible as a product after the achievement of the world’s first automated contact with a Boom system. In a joint operation with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the company’s A310 development tanker performed seven automated contacts with a RAAF KC-30A MRTT, also made by Airbus.