In other news: Northrop hints at exiting KC-X competition

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6 Comments on “In other news: Northrop hints at exiting KC-X competition

  1. So if past is prologue, will the USAF kiss their @$$ and entice them back? Or will the USAF/DOD just wait until the WTO publishes their report and let politics work its “magic”?

  2. Breaking News on Ostrower’s Flightblogger:
    “Boeing selects Charleston for 2nd 787 final assembly line”.

    Ouch. Most certainly this was the last nail in the coffin for the already troubled 787 program.
    Two assembly lines in parallel, and thousands of miles apart. That’s a first class seat to hell, to never ending logistics troubles and skyrocketing assembly costs.
    Please notice: The Boeing leadership decided on this even before one single 787 Dreamliner succeeded in making its maidenflight !
    They must be completely crazy.

  3. From an engineer’s point of view, deciding on a second assembly line before 787 Dreamliner’s first flight was completely irrisponsible, especially in view of the applied modification patch on the wings. Only during flight, the required data to assess validity of the wing modifications and the aircraft as a whole can be collected.

  4. Evin,

    This is about the KC-X. Boeing just announced that they are converting the 767 line to a 787 “surge” line to increase production capacity until the Charleston line is up and running.

    What is that going to do to any potential Boeing KC-X bid? Can Boeing still crank out LRIP KC-Xs on the back half of the existing 767 line while assemblying 787s in the front ‘surge’ half?

    What if Boeing pulls a “Northrop Grumman” on NG/EADS and actually moves KC-767 production to Charleston instead of 787 production, if they get the KC-X contract? Then they could convert the entire 767 line to 787 assembly, and bid the KC-X with the lower labor figure from Charleston.

  5. I figure that the tanker contract won’t get awarded until mid-2010 at the earliest, and dealing with the subsequent protests will take a couple of months. Figure that they’d need 3-5 test KC-767s in 2011-12, with production ramping up in 2013. By then S.C. will be taking the load off the 767 line.

    • Correct. The Pentagon is currently aiming for an award around May of 2010. As long as changes to the RFP are not very significant they should make your mid-2010 decision time frame. If Northrop gets the types of major changes it is asking for though I would expect much longer for the award.

      Correct. Four development aircraft were called for in the last contract so 3 to 5 development aircraft with production ramping up in 2013 and IOC in 2015 as the contract calls for sounds correct.

      I don’t think there is any reason to move the 767 line to Charleston, the actual labor cost involved in final assembly of the aircraft is a farily minor portion of the final cost. Look at NG/EADS KC-30 proposal, They estimate 48,000 US jobs created plus thousands more in Europe. Of these jobs only 1,500 would be involved in the final assembly of the KC-30 at the EADS and NG assembly plants in Mobile. The main reason for Boeing moving he 787 line has to do far more with the economic impact of IAM strikes than IAM wages. Boeing simply doesn’t want to be held hostage to the posibility of an IAM strike in Seatlle shutting down all production anymore.

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