Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Airbus Tanker Deal Officially Dead
The air force notified EADS that it won't acquire two Airbus 310 Multi Role Tanker Transport planes, citing delays in finding suitable used aircraft. Instead, FACH is now seeking a pair of Boeing 767s. The Airbus project had stumbled from the get-go. First, FACH eliminated the refueling booms, which could have extended the range of its F-16 fighters. Then, few A310s were available in the world market, and no facilities in South America to maintain that type of plane. Under the new plan, maintenance will be handled by Lan Airlines, which has extensive experience with the aircraft. The 767s won't have in-flight refueling equipment. FACH told the daily El Mercurio that it urgently needs cargo planes, and it will consider tanker options later. Sources told the newspaper Airbus had located planes for FACH, but the air force rejected them because of the necessary upgrades. The Boeing 767s will also serve as a long-range VIP transports. Meanwhile, Chile's version of Air Force One -- a 737-500 with some business-jet features -- is being fitted with additional fuel tanks to extend its range, at the expense of passenger capacity.