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More KC-46A woes....

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More KC-46A woes....

Old 29th Oct 2014, 07:57
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More KC-46A woes....

Ol' Bubba Boeing has had to come clean about further delays to the KC-46A Pegasus Frankentanker programme. Not only has the date for the first flight of the B767 (remember those?) based aircraft slipped, but it seems that the Pig'sAr$e programme is going to cost Ol' Bubba a cool extra $1billion (having already passed the capped limit agreed between DoD and Boeing), but they've finally admitted that the flight test campaign might slip a year.....

From Bloomberg:
Boeing Co. (BA) is revising its master schedule for developing the new U.S. Air Force aerial tanker, adding to uncertainty about a plane that already has run up an estimated $1 billion in excess costs for the contractor.

Boeing’s proposed revised schedule won’t be presented to Pentagon acquisition officials until early next year, after an Air Force evaluation....

A decision on starting low-rate production at Boeing’s Everett, Washington, plant is scheduled for August 2015; a decision on full-rate production in June 2017. The Pentagon test office this year warned that the start of combat testing, scheduled for May 2016, could slip a year.

Boeing officials are “currently seeking internal” approval by the company’s top leaders for a proposed revised schedule before coordinating it with the Air Force.

Among the difficulties forcing Boeing to revise the schedule were a six-month delay in turning on the power of the prototype tanker, a reworking of about 5 percent of the initial aircraft’s wiring after it wasn’t installed to specifications and “slower than planned” completion of assembly line “functional” testing.

The first flight of a fully equipped KC-46 is estimated to slip to April from earlier next year, Major General John Thompson, the tanker program’s executive officer, said last month.
More at Boeing Seeks Revised Schedule for U.S. Aerial Tanker - Bloomberg

Dear oh dear. It makes 't Bungling Baron Waste o' Space look almost competent.

Should have stuck with the vastly superior A330MRTT-based KC-45...

Last edited by BEagle; 29th Oct 2014 at 15:58.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 13:40
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But at least it's American companies those extra billion $$ are going to..
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 14:14
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But at least it's American companies those extra billion $$ are going to..
No, coming from - cost capped - all from Boeing and any other cost sharing subcontractors......
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 14:28
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But at least it's American companies those extra billion $$ are going to..
No, coming from - cost capped - all from Boeing and any other cost sharing subcontractors...... 29th Oct 2014 11:40
Oh, I imagine they will somehow factor that into the subsequent lot orders- thats when you really make the big bucks. The taxpayer again will eventually be the loser. Boeing really seems to have lost the bubble on wiring issues.

Ahh an edit direct from the article: "Boeing executives previously have said they expect to recoup the $1 billion in excess development costs during the program’s $39 billion production phase". How nice of them. So they eat the overrun now, and quietly tack it on during subsequent orders. I am quite confient that the profit margin will not suffer in the long run- even if it is their mistake.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 15:39
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BEagle - I'm curious, what are your "humorous" names for EADS and Airbus?

"Bubba" and "'t bungling Baron" are surely not alone in defence procurement debacles (A400M and A330MRTT development delays, as an example), and in the civil sphere, the A380 has had as much negative press as the 787.

Not that I'm defending Boeing, BAE or Airbus, but Airbus are hardly any better.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 16:02
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A major military aircraft procurement program going over budget and late?

I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

Feel free to refuse the gas from the new tanker if/when it becomes operational.

Must stick to one's standards.

Should have stuck with the vastly superior A330MRTT-based KC-45...
Good thing there are no UK MoD and/or European horror stories otherwise the hypocrisy might become apparent.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 16:06
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Now then boys! Play nicely.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 17:14
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Originally Posted by Genstabler View Post
Now then boys! Play nicely.
Please, Sir, he started it by calling people names!
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 17:34
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I know it can be galling brickhistory to have foreigners disparage your national industry/products, but even the most ardent Americanophile (and I am one myself) has to concede that the A330 MRTT is a superior product in every regard to the KC-46A.

I'm usually able to see the relative merits in competing platforms, noting how the capabilities of one might suit a particular user while the capabilities of another might suit a different one, but with the MRTT vs KC-46A debate I cannot find a single criteria (except political with regard to KC-X) which favours the latter - there is simply no competition when it comes down to platform performance.

That said, yes there are developmental problems with all aircraft (MRTT boom detachments anyone), but the KC-46A's deficiencies go beyond the here-and-now problems that the programme might be experiencing.

And don't forget also, the KC-45 was to be built in Alabama, and so would have been a US-built product.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 17:47
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To the contrary, I take no offense at the "disparagement."

I am not a tanker expert.

But BEagle's post was pointedly skewed.

If he'd simply pointed out the buffoonery of Boeing (again, shocked, I tell you), I'd have been fine with it.

On a related note, domestic politics influencing defense procurement involving billions of dollars?!

Shock is taking a beating today.

And yes, I'd rather Boeing get my tax dollars than Airbus, regardless of where it's constructed. Built is very different than design ownership.

Suppose there is a political fall-out in future years between the U.S. and Airbus nations?

Follow-on support, upgrades, tech specs, etc.

No chance of that lever of power to be pulled if thought necessary?

A little more difficult for Boeing to stick it to Uncle Sam than Eurobus.

And yes, we could, probably have, done the same. I'd rather not be on the losing side of that proposition, if possible.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 17:59
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I dare say there may be a few folk in Mobile who disagree with your definition of US-built, but I take your point on wanting to spend US taxpayers' dollars on a US designed and manufactured product.

It's interesting to note though that in a different competition Boeing chose to offer a European product (AW101) to the US President himself, in direct competition to the US product from Sikorsky, so proving their definition of 'US jobs' changes as and when it suits them.

But that's big business the world over I suppose.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 18:02
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As Brick says swings and roundabouts, Nimrod anyone?


Airbus Lakota 300 helicopters delivered to the US military both on time AND on budget

Airbus Group Delivers 300th On-Time, On-Budget UH-72A Lakota Helicopter to U.S. Army

Similar I believe the P-3 rewing is actually ahead of delivery.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 23:16
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Originally Posted by ORAC View Post
No, coming from - cost capped - all from Boeing and any other cost sharing subcontractors......

If it's cost them an extra $1Bn, they have to have spent it somewhere.....
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 00:25
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When you said "Nimrod anyone" my first thought was 'which one, we messed up twice'
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 03:04
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Some of the Boeing management decisions on the KC-46 absolutely boggle the mind . They basically took the development tools and managers from the 787 and turned them loose on the 767 - with similar results
These 787 transplants totally ignored that fact that we'd been building 767s for 30 years and decided we needed to scrap everything and start over with the same development tools that had proved so bad on the 787.
The systems interface database - that had successfully built 1000 airplanes - was dumped, and we had to input everything into a POS 787 tool, totally ignoring the engineering objections that we had something that worked, and that the 787 tool didn't work. I put 1000 hours into my work statement just for that task, and I underestimated by at least a factor of 2. Worse, many of the current wiring problems trace directly to that interface tool

The worst part is, we are carrying over many of those same mistakes to the 777X
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 07:36
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There's plenty to complain about for customers of both Boeing and Airbus' latest tankers. The obvious difference between the two is that the Airbus product is currently operational with 4 nations and the KC-46A prototype is yet to fly.

There's a possibility that the delays Boeing are experiencing might mean a more mature product at delivery, without some of the teething problems that the A330 MRTT has experienced. But then again, when was there ever a new aircraft type that had no teething problems?

You can argue that the 'Scrapheap Challenge' comes to mind when you look at the KC-46A design, or that the A330 MRTT build process is akin to taking your shiny new Ford Capri to 'Pedro's Body Kit, Paint and Detailing Shop'. Both options may have their flaws, but both designs must meet rigorous design and safety standards, comply with contract specifications and be accepted by the customers.

The greater concern for the USAF must be how to generate enough tankers every day, amending any drawdown plans and extending airframe lives to maintain capability during any known or forecast delays to delivery. Considering how many nations other than the US rely on AMC tankers and the NATO requirements for AAR, any delay to the KC-46 may have effects that reach beyond Washington State.

I wonder if Ulick is dusting off his boom designs and having those ex-JAL DC-10s serviced?
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 08:17
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The Nimrod AEW3 and MRA4 were both disastrous, it is true. Although the airframe wasn't problematic, the mission system in the AEW3 was totally inferior to even the most basic E-3A. Whereas the mission system in the MRA4 worked well, but the aircraft itself was an utter pig and would probably never have achieved military specification. Coincidentally, both were as ugly as sin.

Yes, the A400M suffered funding problems and a 3 year programme delay. But 174 are now on order with the likelihood of further sales being achieved.

Both the A310MRTT and A330MRTT suffered some in-service teething issues, particularly the latter's boom system. The A310MRTT was delivered more or less on time and budget and the pace of A330MRTT delivery was really only hampered by problems with the boom system. Slow government agreement to the FSTA contract delayed the Voyager's entry into service for the UK, but 5 nations now operate A330 tankers, with the prospect of 4 more.

Whereas Boeing's track history with the 767 tanker programme has been pretty poor. Even the basic KC-767I for Italy was 6 years late after problems with flutter and with the AAR system. It is a relatively simple version converted from the B767-200 airliner, lacking the additional fuel capacity or uprated systems intended for the KC-46A. Leaving aside the political shenanigans over the KC-X programme, development of the KC-46A has been both tardy and eye-wateringly expensive. When EADS North America learned that this Frankentanker was no longer to include a 767-400 based cockpit, but instead one derived from the 787, they correctly identified that this would pose huge risk to the programme.

Unless there are significant 'financial incentives', there doesn't seem much likelihood of Boeing selling what is still a 'paper plane' to any other customers, given the fact that the aircraft's on-paper capability is vastly inferior to the A330MRTT - which of course is already in service.

As for the 787, the delays and problems facing the programme resulted in a 3 year delay for the launch customer. Oddly though, a senior Boeing spokesman stated some years ago that the 787 wasn't suitable for tanker conversion owing to its 'configuration' . So any future Boeing tanker will probably be based on the ageing 767 or perhaps the 777. Whereas the A350XWB is coming along just fine, with 750 on order; when airlines begin to replace their A330s with the A350XWB, there will be a plentiful supply available to receive simpler, A310MRTT-style conversion.....
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 08:39
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.. or the A330neo ?
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 12:30
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Beags - Not sure about the 787's tanker suitability, but back in 2005, when the 787 was new, I asked why used 767s (of which there were quite a few with plenty of hours left) could not be modified for USAF and others.

The answer was that the -300 had no tail clearance for the boom at rotation because of the longer body and that there were not enough HGW -200s in the fleet.

But then, a few months ago....

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Old 30th Oct 2014, 16:32
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The difference with American development projects isn't that they always get them right, it's that they can always afford to get them wrong.
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