September 28, 2009:
The UAE has ordered that the Airbus MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) it will receive in two years, have the main deck of the aircraft equipped to carry 262 passengers (in two classes).
The MRTT is based on the twin engine Airbus 330-300 airliner, which has been in service since 1994, with over 600 built so far. The 233 ton MRTT carries 111 tons of fuel, plus 43 tons of cargo (26 pallets). The MRTT can also carry 238 passengers, because the main deck is available for passengers, cargo or fuel containers. Normally, all the fuel is carried in the wing and tail tanks. This makes the MRTT very flexible, and capable of moving lots of cargo or troops, as needed. The UAE apparently plans to use its MRTT as a passenger and cargo transport much of the time, and an aerial tanker as needed.
The MRTT is also known as the KC-30 in the U.S. It carries 20 percent more fuel than its chief competitor, the KC-767, plus more cargo pallets (26 versus 19) and passengers. The KC-767 is based on the Boeing 767-200 airliner, which has been in service since 1982, and over 800 have been manufactured so far. Boeing developed the KC-767, at a cost of nearly a billion dollars, on its own. Boeing also developed the original KC-135 tanker in the 1950s, and has since built over 2,000 of these. But the KC-30 MRTT is getting more orders worldwide, and may still win the USAF contract to replace the biggest tanker fleet (mainly of aging KC-135s) on the planet.