Aircraft Production Delay: Boeing Tanker Issue

aircraft-manchester-jet-fly-largeA problem that has prevented Boeing Co ‘s KC-46A tanker aircraft from transferring fuel to a C-17 transport plane may delay a Pentagon decision approving low-rate production of the new tanker in May, the U.S. Air Force said on Thursday.

Amid a late test of the tanker’s refueling blast, higher than anticipated pivotal burdens kept the exchange of fuel from the KC-46 to a C-17 transport plane, administration representative Daryl Mayer said April 1. The blast, an inflexible, extendable tube that an administrator on the tanker reaches out to and embeds into a container on the getting air ship, is utilized to refuel most Air Force airplane.

“We don’t yet know the schedule impact to the planned May Milestone C decision, but the problem is well understood and we don’t expect an extended delay,” said Air Force spokesman Daryl Mayer.

Mayer said the issue arose during testing of the refueling boom that is used to transfer fuel from the 767-based tanker aircraft to a C-17 transport plane, also built by Boeing.

The issue marks another setback for the Boeing program, which has run into delays due to wiring issues and other problems. However the program’s projected cost dropped by $3.5 billion to $48.2 billion in a Pentagon report to Congress.

The KC-46 effectively refueled an Air Force F-16, a much lighter flying machine than the C-17, in a past test, Mayer noted. The tanker has likewise effectively exchanged fuel to a Navy F/A-18 and Marine Corps Harrier, which utilize the air ship’s hose-and-drogue framework for refueling, he said.

The report also said Israel had requested pricing for four, six or eight KC-46A tankers in September, and the Air Force responded to the request in December. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)