Back to Squawk list
  • 11

KC-46 Pegasus Tanker Flies With A Single Pilot At The Controls

The U.S. Air Force has announced the completion of two KC-46A Pegasus tanker sorties with only a pilot and single boom operator, as well as an instructor pilot acting only as a safety observer, onboard. The service conducted these flights as part of efforts to validate this already controversial proposed concept of operation, which it says could be useful for helping to ensure adequate aerial refueling capacity during future high-end conflicts, such as one in the Pacific against China. A KC-46A… ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

Rico van Dijk 10
If the captain had been single pilot yesterday evening he would have completely taxied passed the gate. But more interestingly, If I had been single pilot yesterday, who would have told me all those stories of previous mistakes I learn so much from? Single pilot is a technical possibility, but the worst of all ideas ever in aviation as long as human factors are involved.
avionik99 0
So what do you say about all those fighter jets with single pilots? They have far far more to contend with than a tanker pilot doing big circles in the sky over and over again while on autopilot!
royalbfh 1
so you are in fovor of airline going to SP?
royalbfh 1
ToddBaldwin3 7
I do hope this was just a proof of concept for extraordinary contingincies, and not something the USAF is considering for a routine basis. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.
emkostiuk 3
Ahhhh yes, the concept of what Pentagon types want to see in operations vs. the real world in combat with multiple factors pushing the Human Factor beyond what can be done. 28 years in the Military and I saw this all too often. Create a weapons system designed by a Ph.D.,.....put it into R&D with a master's or bachelor's degree, and push its development into the field with a look at what we designed.

Of course, the real world for many of us was.........yeah look at what you did we now have a system that is flawless, designed by nurds, R&D which impressed Desk Jockeys at the Pentagon, and then we hand it off to an 18-year old kid fresh out of High School during combat operations. What could go wrong some of you might ask? M-16 replacing the M-14 during combat, A soft Hummer vs. those 18 yr olds finding scrap iron to reinforce those Hummers during combat (some came home with missing limbs, while others came home in body bags).........a brilliant Sec Def telling the Generals to cut back on money by telling the boot manufacturers you only need to make whole sizes 9, 10, 11, 12 instead of 9.5, 10.5, 11.5, 12.5 (I mean after all what kind of foot problems could they have, one brilliant desk jockey General said...wear two pair of socks), etc...........the list goes on and on.

What was the cost of these so-called brilliant ideas........... A human life or two.
Mark Harris 2
"The boom operator was co-located in the cockpit with the pilot, except when performing boom operations, and a second instructor pilot was on board throughout the entire mission to serve as a safety observer," the release adds. "A second KC-46 with a full crew complement of subject matter experts accompanied the first aircraft to provide assistance by radio, if needed."

So much for saving resources!
avionik99 1
Fighter jets have been single pilots for years. Look how busy those guys are. This is a tanker not a big deal!
Bayouflier 1
This debate will go on until the last commercial pilot gets side-lined by technology. I'm not saying it'll happen in the near future, but i'd be willing to bet that if you are currently an airline newhire in your twenties, you'll never see retirement at 65. Anyone who doesn't understand that technology improvements occur exponentially, is one who won't see the future coming. Airline pilots are an endangered species. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Adigun Samuel 1
KC-46 tanker dotes flies with high end conflict


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
This website uses cookies. By using and further navigating this website, you accept this.
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.