Configuration details on KC-767 emerge

As the world waits to see whether EADS will join with a new partner and pursue a KC-X bid after all, we’ve obtained some new information about the configuration for the Boeing KC-767.

Boeing’s press announcement and illustrations that it will offer the KC-767 left unanswered some questions, so we posed several to Bill Barksdale, Boeing’s tanker spokesman. Below is the email exchange.

Q. The 787 cockpit displays are referenced in the PR, but it is not clear to me if this is more-or-less a “cosmetic” thing or if the cockpit is akin to the 787. The KC767AT was to have the 767-400 “cockpit” and I am trying to understand just what it is Boeing is putting into the KC767NG.

A. It was our intention to only share (via the press release) that we’re taking electronic displays from the 787 for the NewGen Tanker and how that will help future aircrews if we’re fortunate to win the contract. That’s as far as we’re prepared to go on the flight deck…at this point.  

Q. The new-gen FBW boom: is this the 6th gen from the KC767AT? A.  It is not the 6th Gen boom from the AT. The NewGen is a brand new offer…with a brand new boom…based on the proven KC-10 boom.  

Q. The artwork showing the KC767NG all has winglets. The press release does not mention winglets. Is it Boeing’s plan to have winglets?

A. The Boeing NewGen Tanker is clearly depicted in all of our public material with winglets.  

Q. The press release uses the 24% fuel burn advantage from the 2007 competition data. Winglets on the commercial 767 improve SFC by ~4%. Where is this “missing” 4% if indeed the KC767NG will have winglets?

A. Since we are still in a competition, we will not be providing that kind of detail.  

Q. Is the KC767NG going to have a heavier wing (which is what I hear from a couple of sources) and does this mean (a) the wing from the 767-200ER will be beefed up? Or (b) will the wing from the 767-300ERF be used?

A. The NewGen Tanker will be based on a commercial 767. That’s as far as we’re prepared to go with details at this time.

Q. If #5 is correct (a or b), is this where the “missing” 4% from winglets has gone?

A. See previous answers

Q. I continue to hear that there are wing pod issues for the Italian tanker. Are there any issues of any kind that result in lower operational performance (such as refueling at a slower airspeed) or aerodynamic issues that have contributed to further delays? I continue to hear that there are issues with the fuselage center-line hose-and-drogue on the Italian tanker. Are there any issues of any kind that result in lower operational performance (such as refueling at a slower airspeed) or aerodynamic issues that have contributed to further delays?

A. All I can provide is the current statement on the Italy Tanker Program. Here it is…   As we have previously stated, there are a handful of major milestones we need to perform before we enter Tender for Acceptance and the delivery process for the first KC-767 tanker for our Italian customer. These include testing with refueling of a C-130J by the KC-767 and overall completion of flight testing, a military utility observation and, as necessary, resolving issues that arise during these tests. We are working toward completion of these milestones.  

Q. I gather from the absence of any reference to the WTO issue that Boeing does not plan to protest its omission from the FRFP. Correct?

A. As mentioned in our platform announcement last Thursday, we intend to bid for the KC-X contract.  

Q. Boeing makes the claim in its press release that the KC767 produces more US jobs than the KC-30. The respective claims are 44,000 and 48,000. Please explain this discrepancy with respect to the claim in yesterday’s press release. (FWIW I don’t buy either claim; I think they are both wildly inflated, but that’s not the issue here.)

A. [You] might want to take a look at the jobs study released this past Wednesday on this…   [Our notation: Boeing released a study it paid for that now claims the KC-767 program will create between 60,000 and 70,000 jobs over the life of the program while Northrop’s KC-30 would produce between 7,000 and 8,000 jobs over the lifetime of the program. We previously have written that we believed the claims by Boeing of 44,000 and Northrop’s 48,000 jobs to be inflated. We don’t need to comment what we think of this latest study. The Seattle Times has an analysis on the new study that debunks the new claims.]

Q. From Washington State’s perspective, it is my understanding that more work than planned with the KC767AT will actually be accomplished at Everett as opposed to undertaking production here and greater modification in Wichita. Can you confirm and quantify at all?

A. All I can confirm is that we’ll build the NewGen Tanker there in Everett and take it to Wichita for modification work.

Q. Do you have any color on how the shift to a Lean production 767 line (as a result of the 787 surge line) will benefit tanker production and pricing?

A. Not sure we’re ready to provide data on that quite yet.

Our take:

Boeing’s KC-767 NewGen sounds an awful lot like the KC-767 Advanced Tanker in many ways: that is, a mix-and-match of parts and development from many airplanes and a refueling boom that is entirely new.

Northrop Grumman supporters deviously and devastatingly effectively, if unfairly, labeled the KC-767AT the “Frankentanker,” and that’s what the KC-767NG sounds like.

We said “Frankentanker” was an unfair characterization because Boeing has been mixing-and-matching components from sub-types in its airplanes since the dawn of the jet age. Most recently, the 737-based P-8A Poseidon is a mix-and-match of wings-to-fuselage (737-900 wing to 737-800 fuselage); the Dreamlifter has the tail from the 747SP and while the fuselage certainly is more than a mix-and-match, the differences from the 747-400 are clear; the 747SP had flaps and a tail that were different from the 747-100 from which it was derived; the 767-400 had a different cockpit, wing and flaps and modified landing gear from the 767-300ER, and so on. But the fact remains the KC-767NG is a far different airplane from the Italian tanker–which still has not been delivered–and apparently a far cry from the “simplified” airplane Boeing suggested would be offered in place of the KC-767AT.

We shall watch with interest to see how this all unfolds. Whether EADS returns to the battle or not, Boeing still has to present an airplane that is acceptable to the Air Force at a price that is reasonable.

24 Comments on “Configuration details on KC-767 emerge

  1. I would think that including a 787 flight deck on KC-X, would segue nicely into the KC-Y competition if they were to use a tanker variant of the 787?

    • Hmm,
      the Boeing reply is about “787 displays” and “helping the crew” 😉

      If the wording is that restrained there is a good chance
      you will have to fly by steam gauge still.

      • Of course, all detail released so far could be misleading. Boeing fully intends to bid, and can not rule out competition, so why would they show their hand? Much of what is posted above can be read in that context? In other words, I’d be careful drawing too many conclusions on photos, suppositions, etc.

      • I agree with Aurora. Of course, the Q&A with Mr. Barksdale was a predicable and fruitless exercise in itself. We can imagine he would be more open after they get the job.

    • KC-Y is to replace the KC-10’s isn’t it? that is, a tanker that is biger than even hte A330. Why would you assume Boeing would offer the sold-out for a decade 787 rather than the perfect fir 777 of big-ass 747?

      • I believe the DC-10, 787 and A330 are approximately the same size.

  2. What spectrum of job types is expected?
    ( rather independent of Boeing or NG/EADS )

    Low / High qualification?

    will they
    retain existing qualifications or
    (re) create new qualified positions?

    “first tier” jobs that create a cascading trail of
    secondary jobs?

    afaik the US local production sites for European and Japanese car manufacturers were “stamped from the ground”, facility and workforce.

  3. A. [You] might want to take a look at the jobs study released this past Wednesday on this… [Our notation: Boeing released a study it paid for that now claims the KC-767 program will create between 60,000 and 70,000 jobs over the life of the program while Northrop’s KC-30 would produce between 7,000 and 8,000 jobs over the lifetime of the program. We previously have written that we believed the claims by Boeing of 44,000 and Northrop’s 48,000 jobs to be inflated. We don’t need to comment what we think of this latest study. The Seattle Times has an analysis on the new study that debunks the new claims.]

    The result of Dominic Gates’ analysis is a devastating debunking of one-sided corporate propaganda; the like of which I’ve not seen for some time.

    • author “economist” Rob Shapiro

      explains quite a lot ( and about the recent
      economic crash as well )
      Where do I find instruction books on “New Math”
      and “The New Way of Looking at Things” ?
      As a primer one could probably take recourse
      to Astrid Lindgrens book “Pippi Longstocking”.

  4. RE job types

    I would not expect the jobs ” added” to be much different than the mix currently used by Boeing for 767, including vendors. Some specialty design jobs and certain administrative jobs involved in military versus commercial – and a few new vendors for required armour plating and EMI suppression wiring, etc. Other than some short term jobs for new-additional tooling design and fabrication ( one to two years ) – the existing Seattle area workforce would not change much.

    Some new positions at wichita- probably a few hundred direct, but those would be at least a year out from today.

    • So the jobs discussion is another intricate
      posturing dance for the great unwashed public ! ?

  5. To: Aurora on March 14, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    the KC10 seems to have the biggest offload by far.
    ( and it has exceptionally low empty weight )

    type EW MTOW maxfuel
    KC10 109t 269t 160t
    DC13 120t 260t ( DC10-30 basis )

    TT31 113t 163t 36t ( just for show )
    TT33 125t 233t ( 108t delta )
    KC45 120t 230t 110t

    A32F 109t 235t ( 126t / 166t delta )
    ( 238 hgw ? tryout: A340-2/300 275t MTOW)

    B789 115t 248t ( 133t delta )
    ( ahem, data from WP )
    777F 144t 347t ( 103t delta )

    • “the KC10 seems to have the biggest offload by far.”

      Offload is not equivalent with maximum fuel load. At about 2,000 nm a KC-30 can offload as much fuel as a KC-10. The KC-10 guzzles about 40 % more fuel than a KC-30.

      • OK, I stand corrected.
        wrong word.
        “The KC10 seems to have the highest payload fraction” 😉

        surprisingly even with the penalty of a third engine.

    • Uwe,

      Actually you were right all along. The fuel offload rate of the KC-10 greatly exceeds that of the KC-30, gas guzzling or not. At 1,000 nmi a KC-30 can offload 153,00 lbs of fuel but a KC-10 can offload well in excess of 250,000 lbs or more than 100,000 lbs of fuel than the KC-30. In fact at 2,000 miles a KC-10 can still offload around 200,000 lbs of fuel or substantially more than a KC-30 can at 1,000 nmi. The Federation of American Scientist (FAS) have a rather nice fuel offload chart for the KC-10 at http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/man/uswpns/air/tankers/kc10a.html.

  6. Your headline says “Configuration details on KC-767 emerge”. It looks like Bill Barksdale, Boeing’s tanker spokesman, is doing his best to stop them emerging!

  7. I find it interesting that after Boeing has repeatedly touted it’s commanding lead in Tanker boom technology over EADS, that they decide to offer a boom based on technology developed by McDonnell Douglas.

    • Source for boom technology developed by MCdonnel Douglas ?

      At the time the 707-KC 135 tankers were delivered with booms, there was no Mcdonnel douglas. There was Douglas .. Who basically went belly up over the DC-9

      Boeing Stratocurisers ( props ) used booms as did the B-29

      From wikipedia

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerial_refueling
      History
      In the late 1940s, General Curtis LeMay, commander of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), asked Boeing to develop a refueling system that could transfer fuel at a higher rate than had been possible with earlier systems using flexible hoses. Boeing engineers came up with the concept of the “Flying Boom” system. The B-29 was the first to employ the flying boom system, and between 1950 and 1951, 116 original B-29s, designated KB-29Ps, were converted at the Boeing plant at Renton, Washington. Boeing went on to develop the world’s first production aerial tanker, the KC-97 Stratotanker, a piston-engined Boeing Stratocruiser (USAF designation C-97 Stratofreighter) with a Boeing-developed flying boom and extra kerosene (jet fuel) tanks feeding the boom. The Stratocruiser airliner itself was developed from the B-29 bomber after World War II. In the KC-97, the mixed gasoline/kerosene fuel system was clearly not desirable and it was obvious that a jet-powered tanker aircraft would be the next development, having a single type of fuel for both its own engines and for passing to receiver aircraft. It was no surprise that, after the KC-97, Boeing began receiving contracts from the USAF to build jet tankers based on the Boeing 367-80 (Dash-80) airframe. The result was the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, of which 732 were built.
      [edit]

      • Barksdale said the boom was “based on the proven KC-10 boom” KC-10 was developed by McDonnell Douglas.

    • Well the technology does belong to them, as does all the intellectual property after its acquisition of McDonald Douglas. Secondly, it works, so why not improve on it and offer it? I’m still hearing unconfirmed rumors that technical issues plague the ARBS that is on the KC-30. Certainly the RAAF has been deftly silent on the issue.

    • Is there a camera on the Extender?

      afai read the boomcontroller looks through a window in the aft end.
      No detached console.

      ARBS:
      The ARBS has been flying on a demonstrator A310 for some time.
      any pertinent ( and substantial ) informations on difficulties
      in the A330 porting effort available?

  8. Maybe they mean configured like the boomer on a KC-10. The boomer sits in a seat and has a pretty elaborate boomer station looking down through his legs at mirror and watches the end of boom. Has greater comfort and maneuverability than Boeing boomer station where airman is laying on his belly controlling the boom watching out windows.

    It is undisputed that Boeing invented the flying boom, but this may be what they mean..

    Just a guess.

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