Airbus Beats Boeing With Automated Air to Air Refuelling

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Airbus just beat Boeing to be the first to complete a wholly automated air-to-air refueling operation

Airbus just bested Boeing, achieving a massive milestone in an area that's recently been haunting the American manufacturer: air-to-air refueling.

In the latest match-up in the cross-ocean rivalry between the American and European manufacturers, an Airbus A310 MRTT tanker test aircraft successfully completed an automatic refueling operation with a Portuguese Air Force fighter jet. Boeing has not yet been able to achieve the feat, even with its newest aerial tanker. 

Airbus has been leading the charge in autonomous flight operations, with the newly-automated refueling process the latest step in reducing manual control in aerial procedures. In December, an Airbus A350 XWB successfully took off without pilot input, using software integrated to onboard cameras.

The system has plans to be implemented on Airbus' newest tanker, the A330 MRTT, with the certification phase scheduled to begin next year. The Airbus A330 MRTT is the European competitor to Boeing's KC-46 Pegasus.

Currently in use with the US Air Force, the KC-46 Pegasus is Boeing's newest jet but is also proving to be one of its most problematic. Boeing's Pegasus is nowhere near autonomous refueling, with the company needing to fix a key system before autonomy can be discussed, an Air Force official told DefenseNews.

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The Airbus advantages here would have begun in the late-70's/early 80's with the A300 series but it was the A320 technology that took them on a completely different design path than Boeing had chosen, especially after Boeing's 1997 decision to sell itself to McDonnell-Douglas.


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I have not given up on Boeing "yet". Still think the rest of the world better quit pissing on their heads lest they come up with something really amazing.  Remember what happened to Boeing with their 247. Douglass brought out the DC 2, and then the DC 3. 

 Any new design Boeing comes up with would be 10 years ahead of even the A220. Careful what you ask for Airbus 🤔

 Until I read Don's comment above,  I put no credence in the theory that Douglass ruined Boeing.  Really?  Boeing is a big boy. Now I am starting to wonder. 

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Opening this interesting topic a bit to see more than Boeing/Airbus/Embraer/Bombardier etc., etc. - I'm wondering what a future looks like when aluminum & fuel weigh & cost more than pixels and sound bytes.

Most here probably have had by now a similar experience within families, but we just finished an AGM meeting with a company that was conducted entirely online in which ALL employees are now working from home.

Our adult children may have asked Mom and Dad what a typewriter was; will our grandchildren ask their M&D what an "office" is?

Covid has jammed economic models and MBA learning right up against solid institutional rock, forcing people to learn/do with iPads & tablets what would ordinarily take years/decades to get people to do.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to ponder what that means for businesses that move and house & feed people when they aren't home. 

The picture as we know & see it presently, isn't pretty but neither was the late ninetheenth century a pretty one unless you were Henry Ford.


Edited by Don Hudson
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