KC-30 MRTT refuels fighters through boom, drogues

EADS released these photos of the KC-30 MRTT refueling fighters. The company previously released photos of refueling as viewed through the 3D controller’s panel video screen. The MRTT has now “passed gas” (as we like to say, much to the consternation of the more straight-laced crowd) through the new flying boom from the MRTT.

Source: EADS North America

These delayed tests have been the target of much criticism from Boeing supporters, who pointed out that EADS has been delayed in meeting milestones for the Royal Australian Air Force deliveries, which are now 18 months late. About six months of the delay was due to customer change-order requests.

USAirways defers Airbuses; may help in United competition

US Airways early this morning announced it has deferred deliveries of 54 Airbus wide- and narrow-body airplanes from 2010 to 2013 and beyond, including the A350 from 2015 to 2017.

While a blow to Airbus on the one hand, it could help the company win the order on at United Airlines on the other.

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Did Qantas further cut 787 orders?

The Center for Asia-Pacific Aviation (CAPA) reports that Qantas of Australia now only lists 25 firm 787 orders and 25 rights to purchase the airplane in its latest fleet plan. Boeing still shows 50 orders by the airline, which previously had 65 on order but  canceled 15 and restructured the delivery stream on the rest.

Update, Nov. 24: CAPA has now published this addition to the news link; the chart referred to below in contained in the article linked above):

[Correction: Qantas advises that the following chart, contained in its Investor Presentation, should in fact reflect the fact that there are 50 firm orders for the B787, not 25 firm and 25 purchase options, as illustrated]

KC-767 to benefit from 787 “surge” line

Key points:

  • The ability to increase production rates to sell more 767s in the coming years;
  • Lower production costs, which will be built into the KC-X bid in the hot competition with the expected Northrop Grumman KC-30 submission.

Boeing’s proposed KC-767 refueling tanker will benefit from plans to establish a surge production line for the 787 program.

The connection is not obvious, for Boeing didn’t suggest as much when it announced that Charleston (SC) will be the location for the second 787 production line. As Line 2 is being established, Boeing will put a “surge” 787 line in Everett (WA), where Line 1 is located. The surge line will be in the forward bay where the 767 line is, requiring relocating the 767 line to the aft part of the bay.

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Fly By Wire: US Airways 1549

We’ve just finished reading “Fly By Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson,” by William Langewiesche.

It’s about US Airways 1549, the Airbus A320 pilot by Chelsey Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles, forced to make an emergency landing in New York City’s Hudson River last January 15.

We’ve also been reading the reviews and reaction to the book, including Sullenberger’s reaction. We wonder if we’ve been reading the same book as the critics, who dispute the contribution the A320’s fly-by-wire system made to the safe landing.

To read the critics’ response, including Sullenberger, one would think Langwieche gave all the credit to the A320 for the safe landing and none to the flight crew. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Tanker DRFP may violate law: former procurement official

Inside Defense, a subscription-only publication, today reported that a former defense procurement official believes the current KC-X tanker Draft RFP may violate the law. Here is what Inside Defense sent out in the public domain:

Former Top Procurement Official Questions KC-X Compliance with New Acquisition Law

The Pentagon’s solicitation for the KC-X aerial refueling competition is inconsistent with the 2009 Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act and may violate the law, according to a former top federal procurement officer.

That critique, by Robert Burton, a former deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement and Defense Department veteran, comes as a powerful lawmaker and a key architect of the recently enacted weapon systems acquisition reform law — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — is raising questions about whether the KC-X draft request for proposals, issued on Sept. 25, complies with the new act.

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Boeing to build 737 into 2020s: Bair

The Renton (WA) Reporter has this story that Boeing will continue to build the 737 into the 2020 decade, further extending the timeline for a replacement aircraft, says Mike Bair, vice president of Business Strategy and Marketing for the company.

This is highly significant on a number of levels. First, it tends to match the timeline Airbus has already foretold about a replacement for the A320 about 2024. Neither company can really afford to undertake yet another new airplane program, given the cost overruns and customer penalties for their respective A380, A400M, 787 and 747-8 programs. Airbus is also engaged in R&D for the A350, with a price tag of roughly $15bn. With engineering and production resources stretched already, there simply are limitations for Airbus on taking on an entirely new development program.

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Prediction: Boeing offers KC-767

Update: Defense News just published this article detailing the continuing problems Boeing has with the KC-767 Italian tanker, including the centerline hose-and-drogue problems we previously exclusively revealed in this column.

Original Post:

With Boeing and Northrop Grumman still in the Q&A stage with the USAF in advance of a Final Request for Proposals in the KC-X competition, we predict that Boeing will offer the KC-767 and not the KC-777.

Here’s why:

Boeing’s secrets

Evening Magazine, a 30-minute feature program by KING5 TV (NBC-Seattle) aired two segments November 4 about Boeing. The first is called “Boeing’s Secrets,” a feature about places, things or companies that the ordinary Joe doesn’t ordinarily know about (catchy phrase, there, eh?). The second is about Boeing’s Aircraft Psychology (no jokes or cracks, now–this is an upbeat and interesting segment). Both are about 2 1/2 minutes.

Both videos are on the KING5 website, precluding inserting them here.

Here is the Boeing’s Secrets video.

Here is the Boeing’s Aircraft Psychology video.