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C-17 CONDUCTS FIRST AERIAL REFUELING, SETS FLYING MARK FOR WEEK

 C-17 CONDUCTS FIRST AERIAL REFUELING, SETS FLYING MARK FOR WEEK
 EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., April 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Air Force/McDonnell Douglas C-17 airlifter successfully accomplished its first aerial refueling from a tanker aircraft Saturday and exceeded its weekly flying mark with five missions for 17.4 hours.
 On Saturday's 51st mission, the first refueling hookups were made to a KC-135 and 22,000 pounds of fuel were transferred to the airlifter from the tanker. The C-17 test aircraft has now recorded 155.8 flying hours since its inaugural flight last September.
 During five test missions on consecutive days last week, the first test aircraft, called T-1, continued flying qualities maneuvers and flight envelope expansion, reaching a top speed of .845 Mach, within two points of its Mach limit of .87. The C-17's flying hour total topped the previous weekly record of 16.3 hours set in December.
 "We are thrilled with the C-17's performance so far in the test program," said Brig. Gen. Kenneth Miller, the Air Force's program manager for the new airlifter. "It is really more than anybody would reasonably hope for when you look at any airplane that has come along in the past 50 years in the Air Force."
 While the C-17 has performed extremely well in the flight test program, lessons are being learned that will benefit future production.
 "Finding problems so that the design can be refined is the purpose of flight test," General Miller said. "The problems we've found to date are the type we'd prefer to see--all relatively simple to correct and not a single problem with the basic design of the aircraft."
 He added that maintenance problems on the first C-17 have been extremely few. With exception of some fuel leaks, which are common during early stages of new aircraft programs, nothing serious has grounded the airplane, General Miller said.
 Improvements in quality and efficiency are paying off on the C-17 production line, where four aircraft are more than 60 percent complete, with the first two -- P-1 and P-2 -- expected to fly this spring.
 "We're seeing the learning curve on the production line really starting to improve," General Miller said. He said that McDonnell Douglas is building each subsequent C-17 with just 75 percent of the labor hours of the previous aircraft -- a measure of the company's "learning" process.
 Nine production C-17s are currently in various stages of assembly at McDonnell Douglas' huge C-17 facility in Long Beach, Calif. P-1 is 99 percent complete and final pre-flight work is being accomplished.
 P-1, sporting the new all-gray Military Airlift Command (MAC) color scheme, will join the first C-17 in flight testing here. P-1 is primarily a structural test aircraft, instrumented for testing both ground and flight loads. In addition, P-1 will be the first aircraft to demonstrate the unpaved field operating capability of the C-17.
 P-2 will demonstrate aircraft range/payload performance and be used as the avionics qualification aircraft. P-2 is 95 percent complete and will join the flight test program shortly after P-1.
 The C-17, designed to fulfill airlift needs well into the next century, can carry large combat equipment and troops or humanitarian aid across international distances directly to forward, austere airfields anywhere in the world.
 The Air Force plans to acquire 120 C-17s, with the first full squadron operational by the end of 1994.
 -0- 4/13/92
 /CONTACT: Jim Ramsey of Douglas Aircraft Company, 310-496-5027/
 (MD) CO: McDonnell Douglas; U.S. Air Force ST: California IN: ARO SU:


CH -- LA021 -- 7837 04/13/92 14:07 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 13, 1992
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