Airbus has decided to raise the production rate for its A330 family to 10 aircraft a month starting in the second quarter of 2013, the company announced today. The company now builds eight A330s a month and plans to first increase the rate to nine early next year before reaching double digits in 2013.
Airbus A330 MRTT
EADS has decided to bid the A330MRTT for the U.S. Air Force KC-X requirement again, this time without a major North American partner. Ralph Crosby, chairman of EADS North America, said that the Pentagon had recognized EADS North America as a qualified prime contractor. Leaving Boeing as the sole-source bidder “harms the U.S. taxpayer,” Crosby added.
According to Airbus Military officials, the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) has won all the recent competitions for a large aerial tanker because of its superior airframe, coupled to a unique, high-technology refueling system. “We’re very proud of our in-house boom,” said Peter Scoffham, vice president for defense capability marketing.
Airbus’s new A330-200F freighter flew for the first time today, officially marking the start of a 180-hour flight-test and certification campaign with a four-hour test mission over Toulouse, France. This milestone flight conforms to a schedule that calls for first delivery of the first production example to launch operator, Etihad Crystal Cargo, next summer.
Boeing faces a tough decision, now that the Pentagon has confirmed that bigger is better in the KC-X tanker competition. “We’ve now revised the language to make it unambiguous that we intend to provide consideration above threshold for fuel offload,” said U.S. director of defense procurement and acquisition policy Shay Assad. He spoke at a press briefing on August 6, to introduce the draft revised request for proposals (RFP).
Northrop Grumman rates its chances of clinching the KC-X contract as only 50 percent, if the US Congress intervenes in the decision. Paul Meyer, who heads the company’s bid team, told Aviation International News of his confidence that the Pentagon would select the KC-45 again second time round. But he fears that protectionist sentiment could overturn the verdict.
Northrop Grumman rates its chances of clinching the KC-X contract as only 50 percent, if the U.S. Congress intervenes in the decision. Paul Meyer, who heads the company’s bid team, told Aviation International News of his confidence that the Pentagon would select the KC-45 again the second time around. But he fears that protectionist sentiment could overturn the verdict.
Northrop Grumman’s defensive systems division has been awarded a $93 million contract to supply its large aircraft infrared countermeasures system for the RAF’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft program. The systems will be supplied to Thales UK, one of the members of the AirTanker consortium that is supplying 14 A330-200 aircraft for the FSTA requirement.
The intense debate over the U.S. Air Force’s choice of a new tanker continues. Boeing claimed that the KC-767 was found to be “more survivable” than the Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) in the USAF evaluation. Northrop Grumman launched a new Web site to refute various allegations about its A330MRTT bid and ask why Boeing did not raise concerns about the selection process earlier.
Boeing delivered the first of four KC-767 Tankers to Japan yesterday, 15 months behind schedule. Before leaving U.S. airspace on a 14-hour ferry flight to Gifu airbase neat Nagoya, it flew in formation with the No. 2 airplane that will follow after the Japan Air Self-Defense Force completes a formal acceptance process.