Airbus’ highly-capable A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is the benchmark for new-generation tanker/transport aircraft.
When Peter Sutch, Cathay Pacific’s then Managing Director, placed an order for 10 A330s in July 1989, he could not have imagined just how important this new wide-body plane would be. By 2011, when Cathay Pacific placed their thirteenth order, this time for 15 A330s, the versatile plane had grown into a whole family of aircraft, and the best-selling wide-body, ever.
Airbus’ A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport – based on the company’s A330-200 commercial aircraft – has distinguished itself as the benchmark in its category.
So on 20 June 2018, when the MRTT completed the world’s first automatic air-to-air (3AR) refuelling with a large receiver aircraft, it marked a significant moment of progress, proving that these crucial operations could be made safer than ever before. “Two aircraft flying close enough to be coupled is always a risky manoeuver. It involves a lot of stress for the operator,” explains Juan Cabrera García-Ochoa, lead engineer for the automatic refuelling project. “Safer operations are always one of the prime drivers.” “We’re trying to eliminate human error from the refuelling missions as this makes the process significantly safer,” Susana adds. The 3AR system reduces the workload of the refuelling boom operator by automating the contact and refuelling process. This not only improves safety but also makes the process quicker in operational conditions.
Airbus’ rich history with defence and military aircraft includes the company’s development of top-of-the-line tankers, transports and fighters.