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Airbus loses component on test flight over Spain

Source: Bloomberg - Tue 11th Sep 2012
Airbus loses component on test flight over Spain

Airbus Military said a refueling tanker due for delivery this month to the UAE lost a boom in mid flight over Spain yesterday.

The aircraft was performing a test flight when the boom detached at about 7:30 p.m. and landed in a forest in the province of Caceres, in central Spain. The boom was later recovered by police, and the fallen part hasn't damaged any property, spokeswoman Maggie Bergsma said today.

The aircraft returned to its base near Getafe, outside Madrid, and performed a normal landing, she said.

The Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft outfitted to work as a military tanker was the first of 3 on order with the UAE. A boom is a rigid hose that extends from the undercarriage of the plane to feed a second aircraft with extra fuel so it can continue flights without landing.

Designed and built by Airbus, the boom measures 11.6 meters when retracted and 18 meters when fully extended.

The incident is under investigation and Bergsma said she had no information on whether the delivery will be postponed. It is the second time since Airbus Military began building tankers that a plane has lost a boom, with the first occurrence during a refueling task on a plane built for Australia.

The incident is sure to awake memories of the 1966 Palomares accident when a B-52 from the American Air force collided with a KC-135 during a refuelling exersise over Spain. Three of the 4 bombs being carried by the B-52 were lost over the village of Palomares, Cuevas del Almanzora, in Almerķa. The area was contaminated with plutonium, which the USA were forced to pay compensation for cleaning up aswell as payments of compensation to those affected by the accident.

However, in 2010 an unnamed government source confirmed that the US had stopped making the payments the year previously.