Getting Boomers off their Bellies

Far from prostrate in the bowels of a KC-135, boom operators on next generation KC-46A tankers will work from the comfort of a highly realistic simulated workstation near the cockpit, Mike Jones, Rockwell Collins’ transport and tanker director told the Daily Report Monday during AFA’s Air & Space Conference at National Harbor, Md. A three-dimensional stereoscope display is “focused at the boom … to provide depth perception” said Jones, while a second two-dimensional panoramic screen will “give the operators a wider sense of the situation” as combat aircraft approach the tanker for refueling. “The remote vision system is really leading, really fulfilling the air refueling mission,” summed Jones. Rockwell Collins—prime avionics contractor for the KC-46A as well as the KC-10 and KC-135—adapted the RVS’ three-dimensional interface from off-the shelf technology used with bomb-disposal robots.