Paris Air Show

Boeing Addressing KC-46's Teething Pains

 - June 19, 2019, 3:01 AM
The Boeing/USAF KC-46 tanker is based on the 767-2C, which combines wings from the 767-300 series with an updated flight deck. It was first flown in 2014 and received FAA certification in 2018.

Boeing's KC-46 Pegasus tanker is making its international debut this week at the Paris Air Show amid a troubled time for the program, as the OEM’s defense chief affirms that a production challenge is being overcome with a steadfast approach by the company to ensure that it “never occurs again.”

The U.S. Air Force stopped accepting the tankers earlier this year after foreign object debris (FOD) was found on aircraft coming through the production line heading for delivery—yet another hiccup for a program that has faced delays, technological challenges, and cost overrun issues.

“We have had missteps. We owned those, and we have placed a fierce, focused approach upon that to ensure that it never occurs again,” Leanne Caret, CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, told journalist at the airshow on Monday, referring to the FOD found on the tanker.

“The debris and tools that were left on the KC-46 upon its delivery were unacceptable,” she added, noting that “decisive actions” have been taken to ensure that processes are enhanced within this program and across the company. “Our customers deserve better than that.”

Elsewhere, Caret looked towards the first flight of the MQ-25 UAV that the company is developing for the U.S. Navy, which is expected to take place this summer.

Boeing will also add the Embraer KC-390 transport to its offering once a deal with Embraer is finalized, which will result in the companies jointly developing and marketing the aircraft. It is linked to discussions between the two for Boeing to acquire an 80 percent stake in Embraer’s commercial aircraft business. “We very much look forward to the KC-390 becoming one of our products,” Caret noted.