Boeing: no new technical issues with KC-46A

Dennis Muilenburg

Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of The Boeing Co. Boeing photo.

June 2, 2016: Boeing is not discovering more technical issues with the KC-46A, but recent issues relating to the refueling boom and wing pods are being worked through while concurrent production progresses.

“As we discover things in flight tests, we have to roll them into the airplanes. This will be a wide-body program for decades,” he said, forecasting sales of 400 tankers, said Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of The Boeing Co., speaking at the Bernstein Thirty-Second Annual Strategic Decisions Conference 2016.

Muilenburg said the single-aisle commercial sector is competitive but Boeing isn’t engaging in a pricing competition that is unusual and not one “where we have to make bad decisions for market share because of the backlog.”

He said Boeing wants to have pricing headroom when it’s needed, but Boeing won’t chase market share.

Muilenburg said Boeing will return commercial airplanes to double-digit profit margins next year, with a target of mid-teens by the end of the decade.

Doug Harned, the Bernstein aerospace analyst, asked Muilenburg how Boeing will achieve this lofty goal.

Muilenburg said he believes in setting a tough, high bar, calling this an aspirational goal. Cutting costs, evaluating more than 2,000 ideas to cut costs through its Partnering for Success program, shifting to the 787-9/10 vs the 787-8 (“they are easier airplanes to build’) and other initiatives are elements to achieve the mid-teen margin.

777 Classic Bridge

Muilenburg said this is “one of the most important risks” Boeing is trying to manage. He reiterated the need for 40-50 sales a year to bridge the gap. There have been 12 sales this year and there are about 12 “credible” sales campaigns underway.

There will be six 777X test airplanes in production in 2018. Increased flow time in 2018 means there will be actual production of the Classic of 5.5/mo.

“This is not without risk and we have work to do to fill out the bridge,” Muilenburg said.

“We anticipate margins holding up pretty well” on the last off the line aircraft, he said. There is market hesitation right now because of a weaker demand for wide-bodies rather than a need to cut prices. Automation intended for the 777X is being integrated into the Classic line to cut costs.

787 Production Rate

Muilenburg repeated the plan to go to a production rate of 14/mo by the end of the decade. This depends on incremental sales in campaigns currently underway. “We still have time as to when we have to make that decision,” he said.

Program Accounting

Deferred production inventory will plateau this year, Muilenburg said. The inventory growth will further flatten in the second quarter and begin to decline in the second half. Seventy percent of the deferred production is based on in-place pricing. Cost cutting amounts to another 20%.

“That is one of the biggest cash levers we have” in the next three years.

737 MAX

The development is going “very well,” Muilenburg said. More than 400 flight test hours have been achieved with four test airplanes. Delivery may be in the first half of next year rather than the third quarter.

Muilenburg reiterated Boeing’s view that the heart of the market of single-aisles is around the MAX 8. The MAX 9 is entering the production system, but the MAX 7 has yet to do so. He said prospects of a MAX 10 remain in discussion with customers. The research and development profile of a MAX 10 or a Middle of the Market airplane won’t be until after the 777X, with an EIS of 2024-25, he said.

80 Comments on “Boeing: no new technical issues with KC-46A

  1. 400 tankers?
    On which planet does Boeing try to sell them?
    Most recent tanker orders where for A330MRTT or refurbished old aircraft to replace ancient KC-135. These aircraft will stay for about 30 years.
    There are only a few air forces left without new tankers.

    In case Boeing wants to sell all these to US Air Force I see a big problem called F-35. The US can not afford as much F-35 as the cheaper legacy fighters operated at the moment. Less aircraft means less aircraft to be refueled.

    • For better or worse, the replacement for the KC-135 requires around 400 tankers

      A number of the older non updated KC-135s are parked and in a weird legalistic storage situation (they are too old to upgrade but can’t be stricken form the books due to political mandates from congress.

      The program called to replace those KC-135s that are flying, ergo something around 400.

      there is a need to replace the KC-10s, and that may well be an area where the A330MRT would be suitable.

      the problem is it still has to meet USAF standards and its fly by wire (EMP issue) and flight restricted envelope protections might be a deficit.

      On the other hand it may not be in theater so much as intra theater tanking and not need that.

      I am bandwidth restricted right now so I can’t look up the current fuel carry of a KC-10 vs a 767T vs an MRT330.

      I doubt the USAF is going to introduce another tanker in the KC-135 slot but the KC-10 may well be open if the 767 can’t meet the specs.

      They may elect to live with the 767 and just get more of them.

      Sooner or latter the 767 will work, but its certainly a pathetic state of affaire where new failures come up each month or so.

      And yes I am open to a A330MRT built in the US

      • The old tankers are very unreliable. 75 % avalability of the 400. So just 300 tankers to replace with modern aircraft at 99 %.

        To replace 300 KC-135 the USAF doesn’t need 300 KC-46.
        USAF itself said the KC-46 replaces 1.15 KC135 for refueling and 1.35 KC-135 on other missions. That would be just 260 for refueling or 222 for other duties.

        250 KC-46 would be enough to replace 400 KC-135. The first contract is for 179 tanker. Just 70 left.

        • Again bandwidth restrained (this does not take much) but the two proposed contracts were 179 each. That’s 358 and I assume they then add some for international sales once the KC46 gets into production (more accurately accepted into service)

          there is discussing for 179 follow up but USAF is talking KC10 replacement on that now (or even in the middle group)

          That is the details as far as I know.

        • Is 99% dispatch reliability really a reasonable assumption? Today, perhaps. But the USAF has to plan for 40 (maybe even 50) years ahead. I don’t think it would be wise to assume a fleet of KC-46s with an average age of 30+ years will be operating at 99% reliability.

          That doesn’t mean Boeing will necessarily get to 400 KC-46 sales, but it’s a reasonable goal.

          • The main idea behind KC-X was to have C (cargo) aircraft that can also refuel . The KC-135 was just a tanker. So the next KC will not get that old due to usage.

            RAF uses its tanker to provide regular airline services to the Falklands.

            On the other side BA’s 767 fleet is 23 years on average and Lufthansa’s 737 are 25 years on average still with high reliability.

            Remember that the last KC-135 was build in 1965. Today’s aircraft are more reliable with correct maintanence.

            Btw. where will get USAF spare parts from for the KC-46? The KC-46 is based on the 767-2C. There are no civil 2Cs.

            The civil A330 will be in production for years.

          • 400 tankers are reasonable for the next 200 years. Muilenburg did not mention the time span.

          • “Btw. where will get USAF spare parts from for the KC-46? The KC-46 is based on the 767-2C. There are no civil 2Cs.”


            Enlighten us as to the lack of commonality between the 767-2C and the other 767 derivatives. Additionally, when was the last 707 built? The USAF seems to have done OK finding spare parts for the KC-135.

          • MHalblaub :

            You are wrong on the cargo. You also are not reading what I have written about how the US operates. You would do well to do so, you can’t understand a situation unless you understand the facts.

            Airbus touted cargo and fuel capacity for the A330MRT. It has that. Neither for the KC-135 mission is useful to the US. Other air forces have a pathetic capacity in both so they try to make do. Particular Europe that has the same economic might of the US has ignored its military, and if anyone should know the consequences of that it is them. The are woefully short in both tankers and airlift.

            You can’t carry cargo and tanker at the same time. Other countries either have the luxury or have ignored the reality as the US is there to bail them out (can you list an action of the last 20 years that the US did not have to either take over an operation or backstop it due to lack of resources?)

            And the KC46 main systems are based on 767 systems.

            Cockpit is upgraded to get around the old one, 787 type, so those spares are available forever.

            Engines are common and FedEx mid size cargo fleet backbone is the 767F so there will be no shortage of the common parts.

            The rest is specific anyway, and as noted, the KC135 is still fully supported. the critical engine issue has been upgrade (E model I believe)

            Where do you get your 75% figures for the KC135. If you are going to site facts, list the source (you will note that I attempt to do so on my posts)

            Tankers bring back 2/3 of their fuel (US stats). So what good does an A330MRT do? Bring back 100,000 gallons vs 40,000 for a 767? Doing that cost more fuel in engine burn and economics of fuel burn over 50 years are immense.

            You are better off with 6 tankers that can tank a strike than 3 tankers that they have to fuel, refuel and fuel again to get the mission good to go. That assumes they are not off carrying cargo someplace.

          • @TransWorld:
            You can’t carry cargo and tanker at the same time. Other countries either have the luxury or have ignored the reality as the US is there to bail them out (can you list an action of the last 20 years that the US did not have to either take over an operation or backstop it due to lack of resources?)
            Yeah, that’s all because of the tankers, not because of the annual US defence budget being about 4 times that of the UK, France and Germany combined…
            Seriously – if you have ~180 tankers you’re doing something wrong logistically if they’re all doing 100% refuelling 100% of the time. That or you’re trying really hard to not accept that you could be *so* much more efficient.
            Which really amounts to the same thing.

          • I really wish you would read the write ups I have done on the logistics.

            The US has tankers not only around the US (Alaska as well) they are stationed in Guam, not sure about Hawaii, probably. Those three areas alone support a great deal of US aerial training.

            Add in all the US bases that also train and tinkering is part of that.

            then overseas. If said tankers are carry9ng cargo, then they are not in a position to tanker.

            They may only fly 800 hours a year, but they are in position where they are needed (including assisting US allies)

            they are not just a combat theater asses, they are station on the way to the theatres as well as in theatre.

            In neither case can they tanker if they are carrying cargo around.

            Read the studies, USAF posted gthat and the vast majorty of time a tanker cannot carry cargo and do its missions.

            Sometimes they drag a squadron out to a deployment and then they carry squadron people and parts.

            C17s fly straight though to destination, so you have tankers supply them them, B-52 on missions, B1, B2 all of which need to be tankered.

            The assets are busy enough that the US Civil Reserve fleet not only is used to the maximum of the obligations, they are hired out for far more than required.

            When you have world wide commitments its a whole different ball game.

          • There are 500 KC135s, some in for heavy maint on a regular basis and some coming up (though they can fly until 2040)

            400 to replace them with newer and more available is not unreasonable and add in some foreign sales.

            Interesting that parts are ok until 2040 when others have to stop flying because they have no parts.

            Makes you wonder about justifications.

  2. Do I read that correctly – any MAX 10 won’t arrive until 2024 or 2025.

    • If that is correct w’ll see a UA A321 order soon. But ’24-’25 probably is for a MoM not a 737 deravative.

      The old 737 problem is you can’t put bigger engines on the 737 without stretching the main landing gear, you can’t stretch those without removing the center beam.

      So you must move the hinges, loads change dramatically and you are redesigning the wing and everything. Avoided on the NG and MAX.

      • Don’t forget engineers can be clever.

        they may come up with a solution.

        Still does not answer an outdated structural system that is not just gear but wing, engine to wing and form between wing and fuselage outdated.

        I am band width limited but I still think its short of the A321 and it has the same issues of rotation in high and hot.

        US has two main airports, Denver and Salt Lake that are high and hot.

        • Yes they can, and some sort of ‘extendable’ leg that fits inside current bay would be the answer.
          The issues are really only about extra weight of a telescopic leg and the extra retraction mecanism
          The Concorde had exactly the same problem as 737 does now
          “One interesting note about the main landing gear is that if both were to just swing up to be stowed away they would hit each other and jam. The combined length of both undercarriages is greater than the distance between both undercarriage roots”-

      • The 757 has the 737 body cross section and a different wing box, MLG’s and wings. Hence how hard can it be today to design a new wingbox, MLG and a carbon wing for the MAD MAX when Boeing did it for the 757 mainly on drawing boards and slide rules back then even when Sutter and Schairer are not around anymore?
        You still have to solve how to fit a new taller NLG on a 737 nose.

        • “Hence how hard can it be today to design a new wingbox, MLG and a carbon wing for the MAD MAX..”

          Better do slightly wider fuselage & further FBW as well and an relative easy CRFP tai..l & change the 3 in 737 in a 9.

        • NLG is already jacked up 8 inches, its the mains that need it for the proposed 10X

  3. I can see the purpose of a regeared 737 for pilot commonality. That is the premium airlines will pay for the development versus buying the A321. What’s in it for Southwest? Will the 737-10 fly out of Midway airport? Maybe Boeing will build a two lengths with the new gear, put it on the 737-9 for a short field performance model.

    Still, for the 737NG+WS(new gear plus wing slides), just like the A380neo, the airlines have to foot the bill, so who’s in? And, is the FAA still in calling it a 737?

    • Gear stays the same on the 737-7/8, only the -10 would have different.

      And yes its a 737, FAA regs say you can do amazing things and use the older certificate no matter how much its changed.

      Current 747-8 did not have to meet current standards (someone can weigh in, evacuation setup was one), they may have updated others on their own.

  4. No new technical issues, same BS tactics as for 787, just releasing the info strategically to avoid too much damage control and protect our stock…

    Very sad.

    • No you just have to understand. And we used to think Bill Clinton could parese a hair breath line.

      As of the second I made this statement there are no new technical issues. All those other ones are in the past and we are making great progress on them.

    • Let me guess, he further went on to emphasize the importance of transparency. Give me a break.

      • As I understand it, if you set an atomic bomb off behind a turret on a battleship it becomes transparent.

        All you need to do is ……..

  5. Sometimes it helps looking back how things worked in the recent past. Here’s an extensive, upbeat 2006 Guy Norris report on the KC767 for Italy, a year after it flew, facing similar complications.

    Guy convinces us Boeing knows exactly where it stands and has a clear roadmap going forward to secure timely entry into service with the customer.

    “We have an aircraft flying now. The risks are known and we’re wringing out the bugs as we speak. In that way, this is definitely a low-risk solution for anyone’s tanker needs.”

    We all know how the project developed. 4-6 Years delayed depending on your preferred starting point / finish line. Congress lobby made sure it was excluded as irrelevant to for US tanker selection process.

    Being conservative maybe isn’t a bad idea for Dennis Muilenberg discussing KC-46A progress.

    • “Congress lobby made sure it was excluded as irrelevant to for US tanker selection process.”

      It was indeed irrelevant considering that the competing product also had a history of development/schedule problems. Not to mention 2 lost booms.

      • Mike:

        the lost booms are funny, they seem to have solved that quickly.

        On the other hand the RAAF took 6 years to get theirs working to their specs (and I do not know if there specs are the same as US, I doubt it but would like to see what those really are)

        Is the A330MRT being built to 6 different specs or is there some standard we could compare it to.

        On the other hand, the KC46 just keeps coming up with more faults.

        RAAF had no choice, they sure did not have a problem with the C17 (which was designed and built by MD organization not Boeing no matter what the current ownership is)

        • Can´t see RAAF specs anywhere but they have a long history of wanting bigger and better than anyone else, so I would be surprised if they weren´t similar or higher to the USAF specs.

          A lost boom ever so often is a hell of a lot better than no boomat all!!

          • Having followed the RAAF closely over the years, I don’t think its so much bigger and better but they got caught up in their own desires for one off designs.

            For a nation of less than 25 million, my take is they don’t have the tech width to do so and its bit them badly (Collins sub being one).

            There has been a shift, they took the C17 exacly as was with no country specifi mods and they did the same thing with the Arbhams tanks as well as the F18s.

            The idea is commonaility with US forces (and benefit from the support system for those weapons)

            I don’t know how the A330MRT fits into it, if they specified it with US/Australian standard equipment (at least some of it)

            The Wedgeail also was a one off in unique capabilities for them (tough spot as the AWACs did not seem to offer what was needed and there is really only (was) one other system out there that might come close (USN Hawke)

            Both the A330MRT and the Wedgetail took 5 years or better of FOC.

            So seems some and some. Tough position to be in, both trying to keep local resources alive and get first rate systems.

            At least part of it is a small country trying to keep local build going.

          • The A330 MRTT does not even come close to meeting the USAF requirements. Neither did the KC767. That is why the USAF was willing to spend years and billions of dollars… to get what they wanted. It’s an entirely different argument as to whether or not the USAF actually needed what they wanted.

          • There is a truth to that.

            Of course once they saw a bigger A330MRT they wanted that.

            Sadly we have to pay for what they get right or not.

            F-22 was cancelled and now we have a lame F-35 (and just when the F-22 cost were getting somewhat reasonable)

            Now we have a dog that can’t do anything close to what an F-22 can.

            Once the skies are clear any truck can lug a bomb into the area.

            Best I have heard is they are thinking of bringing it back into production.

  6. Scott: I know this is on the edge if not over it and I will self not comment for any period you name.

    Mullenburgs statement on the KC46 is pure CRAP.

    • Mullenburgs statement on the KC46 is pure CRAP.

      Suggest you be specific about why you think so, avoiding breaking Comment rules. Any issues you raise might stimulate discussion.

      • Sir, are you saying that his tanker statement was not misleading?
        How can he tell investors the program is “On Track” and the announce a five month delay 16 days later?

        • Scott: Based on the facts that we now lately find not only the boom is not performing, at least the wing pods are not and we also are now hearing about issues with getting all the engineering changes (and just what ones?) back-fitted into the ones produced and in production.

          And wing pods into service in 2018?

          That is another 787 sounding debacle.

          So, what more is there we don’t know about?

          So far its been the delays getting any information released.

          Nothing trustworthy on any statements.

          Some issues yes, but this is becoming a litany of muck ups.

          • Yes it does sound like another 787 problem when you learn ALL the tanker specific items are outsourced. Boom, meatball, control station. refueling system internals.
            Boeings only job is to assemble it all in its its plane and test it all.

          • With the killing off of the Boeing electronics division they don’t even have oversight.

            How many of those engineering changes they are talking about are other issues?

          • @Speea notes that the Boeing Wichita operation, closed by Boeing, was the key engineering center needed for the tanker.

          • TransWorld,
            Where are you getting your information that the boom and the WARPs are not performing? As far as I’ve read, the boom “problem” is just that the control algorithms need to be tweaked to prevent excessive axial loads that could damage larger (C-17) receiver aircraft. It has nothing to do with limitations on the boom performance. This is exactly the type of thing that must be verified during flight tests, which is where the discrepancy was discovered.

            As for the “problems” with the WARP’s, the only issue that I’ve found reported so far is that Cobham failed to use FAA approved processes during design and testing. So now they are going to have to generate all the approved design docs and redo most of the testing in order to gain certification. This takes time, but again has nothing to do with the WARP performance.

          • If you can’t use them then they are useless.

            I have not seen details of what the issue is, there should not have been an issue.

            Italian Tanker issue does not resonate? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

            Or as Scott noted, they killed off their center of expertise and then put out the BS they can do this just fine?

            Boeing clearly said they had the tanker contract nailed, just as clearly they are screwing it up. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, at this point they have ZERO validity.

            If Mullenburgs lips are moving I assume he is lying based on actual performance. Talk is not cheap, it is worthless, what your actions are is what counts and so far its been pathetic.

          • “If you can’t use them then they are useless.”

            “I have not seen details of what the issue is, there should not have been an issue.”


            Are you serious!? The KC-46A is still in the middle of flight test. You can’t say the boom is useless if Boeing isn’t even done developing it yet. Also, the purpose of the flight test is to discover issues so they can be fixed. Saying that there should not have been such an issue is a bit unrealistic.

            The boom issue is part of development, not a performance issue, and the WARP issue is a non-compliant subcontractor.

          • TransWorld,

            It seems that you like to criticize Muilenburg, which is your right I guess, but in his latest statements, I think he was going off the information as it became available to him.

            The boom issue was discovered during flight test probably back in March because it was first reported around April 1. Boeing then began working on two solutions to the problem in parallel, one a software only fix, and the other a hardware change with the associated changes in software. Obviously the hardware change would take longer.

            On May 11 when Muilenburg stated that the KC-46A was “on track” Boeing probably still believed the software fix would do the trick and that they could make their ridiculously tight schedule, even though that fix was still in the middle of flight testing. After the flight test results became clearer, Boeing determined that the software fix improved the situation, but was not robust enough and that a hardware change would be required. I believe this precipitated the schedule change announced on May 27 although I don’t think the boom issue is solely responsible.

            Look, this boom issue is in the category of “s**t happens”. Boeing began the program with plenty of schedule margin for such things built into the flight test portion of the program but they used that all up earlier by screwing up the wiring and fuel system designs. About 1.5 years ago Boeing did a major shake up of the KC-46 program and things have progressed better since then.

          • Mike:

            If the current is really better, I hate to hear what worse is.

            It does not matter who is supply the pieces, Boeing stood up and said we can do this and we can do it better than Airbus.

            So far comparing program issues, Airbus is doing much better.

            So after all that mouthing off, the first thing they do is screw up the wiring.

            Contractor (outsourced again) puts goo in the fuel system.

            Wing pods don’t work (repeat of the 767 Tanker)

            Boom does not work for C17 (Airbus boom does)

            Now we hear about all sorts of engineering changes.

            As a mechanic/technical with an engineer title with no letters, non specific that makes my hackles rise.

            What changes, what engineering changes and how bad is it?

            Inquiring mind would like to know.

            How many strikes do you get before you admit you have a company issue and do something about it?

          • TransWorld,
            “So far comparing program issues, Airbus is doing much better.”

            2 years behind schedule on RAAF deliveries due to boom development delays and then further delays to full entry into service due to problems with the hose and drogue, all on conversion aircraft with minimal mods to the airframe. The only way this qualifies as “much better” is after chugging large quantities of Type-A Kool-Aid.

            “Wing pods don’t work (repeat of the 767 Tanker)”

            This is total BS. The WARPs work just fine as proven by the fact that the KC-46A has already refueled Hornets and Harriers. They just need to be certified as I mentioned previously, which will take time. The A330 MRTT wing pods didn’t work before they were developed either.

            “Boom does not work for C17 (Airbus boom does)”

            Here’s a question for you. How well did the Airbus boom work back in 2010 when the RAAF expected their 5 tankers to be in hand? Also, how are those RAF booms working?

          • There is a center pod on the KC46, not just the wing pods.

            We have to assume that is the one that fed the pod type aircraft.

            And frankly its irrelevant how long it took the RAAF to get their stuff working, Boeing said they could do this and have not.

            On the other hand a company with very little tanker experience has delivered and customers have not complained (RAAF took it in stride for better or worse)

          • TransWorld,

            “We have to assume that is the one that fed the pod type aircraft.”

            Well, we know what happens when one assumes. It was pretty widely reported going back to Feb of this year that the KC-46A has successfully used both the fuselage hose and drogue and the WARPs to refuel both the hornet and the Harrier.

            Look, you’re the one who started making comparisons between the Boeing and Airbus tanker programs, not me. If you’re going to do that, at least be realistic about both programs. What about the A310 MRTT? No boom but it was still a tanker.

            Even with the the well publicized issues, the KC-46A is not yet nearly as late as the RAAF A330 MRTTs were, and as far as I can see, Airbus fans here are complaining much, much more than the USAF ever has.

          • Fair enough, though the comparisons exist regardless of myself.

            What we are missing is apples and apples (or at least Gala vs Granny Smith)

            I don’t know what the RAAF requirements were. Obviously its taken a long time to get to where it can refuel all the types intended (i.e. the recent C17) and there seems to have been a lot of other deficiencies in other area (unlisted, speculating is com, hardening and any command ability as they do act as mini area ATC). RAAF does not say, alludes and the only one we know of is the tinkering.

            RAAF does do it that way, they took the non compliant Wedgetail and worked it into operational service.

            My take is they would rather get time on the equipment and familiar with it than wait for it to be right.

            So for them its been 5 years. No reports on other services and how its going. I would be interested in any reports.

            USAF takes a different tack on this, they want 18 delivered as a squadron ready to go per spec and then see what bugs pop up.

            So as a comparions they both have had issues.

            The difference is Boeing claimed they could do it, they had 5 labs working to ensure it and we come up with a constant stream of failures.

            Now they are putting in a relief valve to correct the C17 boom problem. That relief valve has been a feature of booms in the past. I guess that test lab didn’t find out there was a good reason for it.

            Either wing pods only are deficient or they all are (mixed reports)

            Upshot is that Airbus has build a tanker that is as good roughly as the KC46 without that vast experience.

            The boom falling off was funny, one seems to have been they simply did not tighten the nuts. Embarrassing but not a show stopper.

            Wiring wrong and not knowing how to build a boom in the first place?

            I don’t get a medal for getting out of bed and getting to work on time. Boeing should be able to do wiring and booms the same.

            If a person is chronically late for work do you expect them to arrive on time for the rest of their career? I don’t, chronically late workers will always be on time. I expect the behavior to repeat and I expect other issues and more delays.

            It looks to me that Boeing will be as late as Airbus, and its costing billions (Boeing writes this off on taxes so we pay anyway) . Lovely.

            It may have issues once its in service. Stay tuned.

            I am neither a A330MRT fan nor antagonist, same as the KC46. They will both do their jobs, I think the KC46 suits US operations that an A330MRT would not.

            Coin flip on both programs.

            Still Boeing management said we had this handled and did not. I think that’s worth smearing lots of eggs on their face.

  7. As noted in the past, is Mullenburg a transformation leader or another manager?

    Looks like a better than McNenarny with his anti union anti social esurient agenda (my opinion its all the same) but Mullenberg is still a manager type.

    Boeing needs a transformational leader.

    • McNerney left bare bones, Now Muilenburg is cracking them open for the marrow.

  8. If Muilenberg was frank & straightforward about the risks financials and real expectations, employees, customers, analyst and stock holders would trip. He can’t.

    • yes he can. Ford did it.

      To quote Apollo 13, Houston we have a problem.

      With 3 major program failed (787, 747, KC-46) the reality is there is total rot in the organization and only a complete re-do is going to fix it.

      Being cute and nice does not cut it.

      So what if the stock tanks, fix the company and it all comes back. Don’t fix it and like Penn Central, its toast.

      Sometimes you can nudge something straight, I don’t see that this is the case.

  9. Muilenburg is [edited, per Reader Comment rules]. Full stop.

    His cost cutting tactics are extending to touch labor, which will have a negative production impact. By Boeing’s own count, IAM touch labor productivity was down 9.4% in Q-1, typically the most productive quarter of the year, with no holidays and few vacations.

    • If its part of a realistic plan, its not necessarily bad. I have worked both government and private jobs.

      There is always slack.

      Indiscriminately cutting and blaming workers though does not do it.

      Workers are a product of management. the best workers can at best nudge the boundaries and make minor improvements

      A well run organization allows good workers to shine and improve the whole operation.

      Mullenburg is a product of the board, he is a place holder at best.

      The board needs to step in, empower whoever is in charge to come up with a plant to correct the organization and then back them to the hilt.

      Mulally did it with Ford, it can be done, all the pieces are there, it just needs to be corrected. The management also has to put skin in the game that means massive salary cuts. No pay until it turns around.

      It will not correct with the way things are going.

      • Sounds like Boeing´s future is dependent on cost cutting and not improvement. But after x years of cost cutting how much do you think is left to cut? Yes, mechanisation on the assembly side (probably way overdue) will help, but that also costs investment at a time when all the free cash is going into share buybacks. So debt increases just as interest rates start to rise? The sums just don´t seem to make sense to me.

        • Dont get too excited about the cost cutting numbers. By the magic of production efficency when you increase the build rate the efficency numbers improve as well.
          The real thing to worry about is if they start using labour hire contractors for the assembly workforce- not sure they will go that far.

          • Assumes you have assets that aren´t working at full speed, partly a help in Boeing´s case if they can sell 14 B787s a month, but I bet Airbus will do 10 A330s=110 pa and can price them to ensure they sell, so I can´t see the market absorbing 14 787s except at a massive discount.

            Maybe ramping up 737s on the P8 line will help, but still they need to invest in mechanisation to do it at a cost advantage or they will have to hire more labour. Hence investment, a dirty word in Boeing.

          • I don’t think we will see past the 12 a month of 787 now.

            I doubt A330NEO goes above 8 and maybe stays at current (6?). I don’t think its the 1000 aircraft seller that Hazy touted. Also they have shifted the people from that program over to the A350.

            I think the bubble has busted, not so much per cancellations but lines are sold out past the early 2020s.

            You only need so many a year and production is getting ahead of that.

            People are realizing you can’t plan that far in advance, suddenly lower fuel costs and it changes things.

            Gold rush is over, steady production at some rational level will kick in.

  10. Where is KC135TopBoom? This article is his home base.

    • I think he got into trouble too often and then gave up.

    • Yes where is KC135TopBoom? Get him back, great guy ! I hardly ever agreed with him but he definitely had value adding contributions & insights.

  11. It does seem that they did not learn anything from the Japan and Italian job.
    Maybe they fired everyone and have had to start again.
    Definitely KC was a Boeing man,and I miss some of his input, which could be insightful on re-fuelling operations, but he was a bit thin skinned when Boeing was criticized.

    • Probably working for Boeing after they got the KC46 contract

    • “… but he was a bit thin skinned when Boeing was criticized.”

      Well, I could name several “Airbus men” that comment here regularly and are equally or more thin skinned. But, I won’t name them because that would violate the comment rules. So what if some people have a thin skin? We’re all human.

  12. Very, very weird – a high tech company that outsources more and more of their core competence: engineering! An apparently failed strategy that has lead to the 787 debacle and now seems to wreck the whole tanker business.
    When engineering is a core part of your company and you try to outsource it then you end up with an inflated management that tries to plan and control it – and will never really be able to do it perfectly.
    Muilenberg is an engineer, so he should know about all the million decisions that have to be made every day. Without most of those decisions made in house by people who are sworn to the company you end up with a lot of trouble to sort out later – or too late.
    Another nice example how badly this can go is the cable chaos of the A380. And that was within one company, only in two different locations and two different CAD systems.
    I wonder if Muilenberg will have the power, the brain and the guts to fire the excess managers and bring the engineering back. Oh yes, and best all in one place so they can actually talk to each other in person and share experience. And no, personal contact is not obsolete today, as is a pencil and a sheet of paper.

    • I think he has already started on middle management. Let´s be honest here, KC-46A wasn´t started on his watch.

      • That’s fair, but the lies are continuing.

        He wanted the job so bad that he was willing to continue McNeanry fine tradition of pulling the wool.

        repeated comments that the KC46 is fine are now proven to be lies.

        The repeated comments that we don’t have a competition problem with the A321 is also a lie.

        You can interview for a job and tell the interviewees that things are screwed up, it needs a whole different approach, THIS IS NOT WORKIHG! You have a plan, there will be pain, shareholder will be pissed, Wall Street with howl but you , lay it out and in the end the company will be competitive and a leader once again.

        Pen Central is not a one off. You can run it into the ground.

        • Is there any such thing as a listed start up? Microsoft to Tesla to you name it are all started by individuals who can control their inventions and product range without Wall Street input. Sad to say it but modern capitalism is counter productive. Running it into the ground is modern business practice.

        • The CEO of a very large company like Boeing doesnt know every last detail of every program. Its hard enough to know whats going on if you employ 10 people let alone 161,000. Then there are the major subcontractors like this program, are they saying things they should be.
          Thats why major announcements can differ after only 3-4 months.

          I read phrases like ‘on track’ to mean not much as its just a slightly positive word, as opposed to ‘successful’ or ‘ahead of expectations’ which are far more positive statements.

          • Ok, I am going to have to take that last one to Bill and see how he dissects it.

  13. Does Dennis Muilenberg there is a market for ~350 seat / 8000NM ?

    Does he think the 787-10 and 777-8 are perfectly ok to compete here ?

    If so, he better takes a second look.

    • In five years when 787-10 is sales king and Airbus is launching the A330-1000, you’ll see things differently.

  14. Ted, the 787-10 has been close to success for over a decade now.

    The 787-10 will be very good for medium range and seriously payload range restricted for Asia-Europe and Asia-Americas. It because of it’s 787-8 wing, making it a bit a one trick pony.

    “the 787-10 does not have the necessary range for around 40% of the destinations,” says Carsten Spohr, CEO of the passenger airline division.”

    I think the Boeing community still is in denial on the big twin segment they used to dominate.

    The 787-9 seems excellent, hopefully 777-9 sales will pick up soon. Inbetween those there’s a mix of restricted/ aging / heavy types to fight of the agile A339, A359 and A351’s.

    Stay tuned, this isn’t going away. At some point WS will understand and ask questions. Qantas ordering the “wrong one” may be a start.

    • Keep in mind that is 40% of Emirates missions not all airlines in general.

      I really don’t like the one trick pony thing. Like any other aircraft, if the need is there they can put a bigger wing on it.

      By that definition the A350-900 was a one trick pony and the 1000 needed a larger wind and engines and the 1100 will need it as well.

      787-10 is a good low cost derivative that serves a significant by maybe not huge market need. If there was 1000+ aircraft in that segment then it might justify a new wing and up powered engines (like the A350-1000 did and who knows if that will pay off)

      • Carsten Spohr is the CEO of Lufthansa Not Emirates, although I think your point is a valid one anyway.

        • I stand corrected, assumed Emirates.

          This is the came CEO that said all those aircraft have too long a range? Need to design for Lufthansa and BA not Middle East?

          I remember that one now. Then right afterwards they order the longer range stuff.

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