Watch This NATO Tanker Make A Landing With A Dangling Refueling Hose

Video taken by an airplane spotter at Eindhoven Airport in the Netherlands shows a NATO Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport jet making an emergency landing after its refueling hose apparently failed to retract.

The A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), an aircraft from the NATO Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF), was returning from a refueling mission in the north of the country, according to the flight tracking website ADS-B Exchange, when the aircrew noted a problem with the hose shortly after 1:30 PM local time.

After circling the airport for nearly an hour, the pilot radioed the tower.

“Do we have to declare an emergency or something with you?” the pilot asked, according to a recording of the transmission provided by that airplane spotter, who asked that we only use his first name, Maurice. He runs the EHEH YouTube channel.

“How low would you like us to go to check the drogue?” the pilot asked, referring to the basket-like device at the end of the hose that is used to connect with receiving aircraft’s probe to provide fuel.

“Five hundred feet,” the tower responded.

The video shows the aircraft approaching the runway with the refueling hose dangling off the port wing. It follows the Airbus until it touched down and includes full air traffic control audio, check it out below.

After landing, the tower informed the pilot that the drogue apparently damaged a runway light and that there was metal debris behind the aircraft.

Why the problem occurred and what, if any damage, the aircraft and hose received are unclear. So too is how much damage the incident caused the airport. We reached out to NATO, Airbus, and the Eindhoven Airport for comment. We will update this story with any information they provide.

Eindhoven is one of two homes of the NATO tanker fleet. Airbus delivered the first of nine A330 MRTT aircraft ordered by the MMF in June 2020 after a ceremony held at the Airbus Getafe site in Spain.

A NATO Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport jet, returning from a refueling mission, was unable to retract its refueling hose and had to make an emergency landing at Eindhoven Airport. (@EHEH_Spotter photo) A NATO Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport jet, returning from a refueling mission, was unable to retract its refueling hose and had to make an emergency landing at Eindhoven Airport. (@EHEH_Spotter photo)

The MMF is managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) with the strong support of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), under the ownership of NATO and operated by an international unit, according to NATO. It provides its six participating nations (Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, and the Netherlands) “with strategic tanker and transport capabilities.”

“These state-of-the-art aircraft are configured for a variety of missions, from air-to-air refueling (both boom and hose and drogue), to troop transport, VIP transport, cargo/freight transport and they can also be re-configured for aeromedical evacuation” a statement from NATO reads.

The aircraft can carry 111 tons of fuel and can service a wide range of fighter and transport aircraft NATO members use. The A330-based MRTT has 11 customers from all over the world, with 68 jets ordered in total as of last month.

While it is certainly not unheard of for issues to occur with a tanker’s refueling basket, it is a bit rarer to see one land with its hose deployed, although it certainly isn’t unheard of.

In this case, it seems no major harm was done, although it would be interesting to know what happened with the receiver aircraft and if they were involved in the malfunction.

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Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard's work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.