More bad news for Boeing as Air Force warns the troubled company is in a ‘severe situation’ after trash and tools were found on brand new refueling planes
- Boeing was dealt another blow when a Pentagon official said it could take at least a year to restore full confidence in the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker program
- The Air Force say the company has an inability to maintain quality control
- Boeing delivered the first KC-46A in January, more than a year late following a series of production and design problems
- The Air Force suspended deliveries in February after finding tools and other debris left in some jets
- Deliveries resumed this week after Boeing instituted fresh measures to check the aircraft, and the company now has handed over seven planes out of 52
- Boeing expects to sell an initial 179 tankers to the Pentagon and hopes follow-on sales and exports could boost the total above 400
It is “simply unacceptable” that trash, tools, nuts and bolts ended up scattered inside aircraft, which is why the Air Force will keep tabs on Boeing according to Dr. Will Rope, a top acquisition official with the military
Air Force’s top acquisition official has launched a blistering attack on Boeing after trash and tools were found inside it’s brand new refueling planes.
In the latest blow for the troubled aircraft manufacturer, Dr. Will Roper said the company is in a ‘severe situation’ after the flawed inspections of its new KC-46 air refueling tanker aircraft at its Everett Washington plant on Monday.
The Air Force decided to stop accepting Boeing’s KC-46 tankers on February 20, saying the issue was not with the aircraft itself but with the process in place for building the aircraft.
Deliveries of the jet were halted last month when ‘foreign object debris’ was found in one of the aircraft.
Deliveries are now resuming after Boeing offered to create a new inspection plan.
Dr. Roper who is the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics made his concerns clear after visiting Boeing’s Everett Washington plant.
Boeing delivered the first KC-46A in January, more than a year late following a series of production and design problems
‘I left concerned, and I also left thinking Boeing understands they have a severe situation that’s going to take top level engagement from their company,’ Roper said to CNN.
‘It’s going to take more than a year of measuring and tracking Boeing’s performance until we’re confident that they follow their procedures, and maybe longer than that before we believe the culture of quality has come back,’ Roper said.
Roper re-visited the plant again on Monday and managed to secure a promise from the company for a new inspection plan which will see deliveries resuming as upgraded inspections are completed.
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The Air Force suspended deliveries in February after finding tools and other debris left indide
The KC-46 plays a critical role in the refueling of military aircraft around the world. Six aircraft that had already been received were re-inspected by the Air Force.
‘We are doing more stringent inspections so we feel confident before we accept any plane from Boeing,’ Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told the news network.
Although the discovery of trash and tools inside the planes is not a result of design flaw, or even a specific safety concern, Air Force officials privately told CNN they were aware that the timing of the problem is exceptionally sensitive for Boeing after the grounding of its 737 Max jet.
Roper emphasized to reporters that while the issue of the material and objects — known as Foreign Object Debris, or FOD – being left inside an aircraft as it comes off the production line is not a design or safety risk, it is a matter of great concern to the military.
Deliveries resumed this week after Boeing instituted fresh measures to check the aircraft, and the company now has handed over seven planes out of 52
‘FOD is really about every person, everyone in the workforce, following those procedures and bringing a culture of discipline for safety,’ Roper said.
‘Culture is something that I’m not going to believe because we have a good month, or a good two months, that the culture is back. I’m going to believe it when I see month after month for a long time that yes, those practices are now things that aren’t just being done because they have to be done, they are being done because the workforce says, “This is a product we deliver to the Air Force,”‘ he added.
Boeing are now going to conduct spot inspections on the aircraft during production, including specific areas of the planes that may be sealed as part of the production processes.
‘I certainly think they are going to have to have a good team,’ to carry out the new inspection program, Roper said.
Similarities between two air disasters involving Boeing 737 Max 8 jets have shone a spotlight on an anti-stalling system used in the aircraft model
A screw-like device found in the wreckage of the Ethiopian airlines flight was pointed down, indicating that the plane was set to ‘dive’
The setback with Boeing’s military aircraft come as investigators try to uncover what has caused the crash of two Boeing 737 MAX planes in recent months.
Boeing Co said on Friday its software upgrade for the grounded 737 MAX jetliner will be rolled out in the coming weeks, and that its timeline for deploying the upgrade has not changed.
Boeing has been working on a software upgrade for an anti-stall system and pilot displays on its fastest-selling jetliner in the wake of the deadly Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October.
Similarities between the flight path in the Lion Air incident and Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash have raised fresh questions about the system.
Boeing said on Monday it has been working closely with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on development, planning and certification of the software upgrade, and it will be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks.
The FAA expects to approve these design changes no later than April 2019, it has said.
Boeing shares rose as much as 1.5 per cent in midday trading, reversing course from losses of about 1.5 per cent earlier in the session.
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