Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : March 2011 Contents MARCH 2011 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
will be made to the boom system in order
to deliver a fully functioning and certi able
capability by the rst quarter of 2012. " e
changes will be mainly software. What we
understand is that the Commonwealth's
boom operators have been trained on US
tanker booms, and they have suggested
some improvements. We expect this to be
complete in one year's time. We are capable
of doing it within the model that we have.
So I think this is a wise way to introduce
the capability as a step-by-step."
While the RAAF is interested in what
improvements can be made to the boom,
no commitment to take up any upgrade has
been made yet. "It's too early to say what
they'll entail," said AIRCDRE Lawson.
" ey're o ering some enhancements and
we're in the process of deciding whether we
agree to the enhancements."
In the meantime, Airbus has been liable
for liquidated damages on the contract, and
although neither party would specify what
these entailed, they are believed to include
the cost of using air-to-air refuelling tank-
ers from Omega Air and the USAF to
assist with deployments of F/A-18s to and
from Malaysia and for supporting 2OCU's
High Sierra graduation exercise in 2010,
and for at least two delivery ights of Super
Hornets from the US. "We were liable for
liquidated damages in the past -- we came
to an agreement and we had a settlement in
the past," Peńa shared without elaborating.
If Peńa's mission to Australia was
successful and an outcome can soon be
achieved, Airbus hopes to deliver the rst
two aircraft "as soon as possible". Aircraft
1 and 4 are planned to follow around
September, and aircraft 5 in early 2012, and
it is hoped aircraft 4 and 5 will be deliv-
ered to Amberley straight from the QDS
Brisbane modi cation facility, assuming a
suitable local paint facility can be found or
alternative arrangements can be made.
At the time of writing, March's Avalon
Airshow program showed a KC-30 would
be present for static display, and Airbus is
anxious to bring an example to Australia
as soon as possible in order to get some
program momentum under its belt, a move
which will no doubt bene t its KC-X bid
"Part of whether it comes to Avalon is
going to be the workload and whether we
can make the space to get an aircraft out
here for that," said AIRCDRE Lawson.
" e lifting of the ight permit withdrawal
is another issue -- if it goes on for too much
longer we'll be past the decision point. It's
been discussed but neither us nor Airbus is
leaping for ward to make it happen yet. It
would be nice, but we'll have to see how it
"We are very keen to have the aircraft
here and to have a photograph of it at
Amberley in front of the hangar -- it
should happen soon," added Peńa. "It's a
possibility to have one of the aircraft at
Avalon and maybe at Amberley in the
same visit -- better than 50 per cent. But
we still have lots of things to do -- for
us it 's not our priority. To showcase the
aircraft is always good for us and Avalon
is a very important airshow because it 's
the [home] airshow of our lead customer,
so we take it very seriously. But we don't
want to distract resources from the activity
to deliver the aircraft as soon as possible.
e aircraft will be in our control in any
case because of the special ight permit."
Peńa also dismissed speculation that
parent company EADS's KC-X bid may
have drawn resources and distracted the
company's focus away from the Austral-
ian program. "We have di erent teams,"
he said. " e KC-X team has di erent
management, a di erent chief engineer, and
di erent specialists. KC-X is a competition
and just has a marketing team -- there is
only paper work. Australia has been and is a
priority for us."
Another issue yet to be resolved is
where or when the RAAF KC-30A's
Large Aircraft Infra Red Countermeasures
(LAIRCM) system will be installed, al-
though this is not a delay of Airbus's mak-
ing. During the course of the project, the
US State Department changed its policy
regarding the export of LAIRCM, mean-
ing the system could no longer be installed
by Airbus in Spain.
Ironically, while Airbus was required to
return any hardware it had been deliv-
ered, it retained all the data necessary to
complete the installation right up to where
the hardware 'plugs in'. " e installation
is already on the aircraft, we just have to
plug the equipment in, test it and certify it,"
Peńa said. "We are going to be supporting
the process for our customer and the Span-
ish authority has been invited to certify it.
It's a very strange change in policy, and ob-
viously it is a ecting the program -- it's very
di cult but we just have to live with it. For
(the UK's) FSTA, we will install LAIRCM
in England and test it in England."
Peńa added that the restriction does raise
some issues about how Airbus and its sub-
contractor, QDS, can test, maintain and
support the LAIRCM system in Australia
if the company has not been involved in
the complete installation, although one
suspects this can only be resolved at the
government to government level.
"It's not yet fully resolved in terms of a
determination from the US government
where and when it can be tted," explained
Ward. "All of the provisions are in place,
but it's not just the installation, it's the test-
ing as well which is aircraft speci c. But it
will need to be done after we take accept-
ance and ownership of the aircraft. If it has
to be done overseas, it's more complicated
and takes longer to organise, versus if it
can be done in Australia. Su ce to say it's
being actively worked."
For Airbus Military, the company says
it has learned its lessons from this project,
both in the immediate and longer terms.
Peńa said that during each aircraft's
modi cation cycle, processes have been
adjusted, and the sequence of work activi-
ties have been changed to provide greater
e ciency, meaning each aircraft converted
to date has taken less time than the previ-
ous one. To that end, both Qantas in Bris-
bane and Iberia in Spain have contributed
greatly through their experience as opera-
tors and maintainers of Airbus A330/340
airliners. In the longer term, the follow
on Saudi, UAE and UK programs, and
perhaps that of the USAF, will also bene t
greatly from the experience of the Austral-
ian MRTT program.
LOCAL DEBUT? Airbus Military hopes to demonstrate a KC-30A at March's Avalon Airshow, and for the
aircraft to visit 33SQN's RAAF Amberley base. (Airbus Military)
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