HOTR: When “Buy American” isn’t

By the Leeham News Team

Aug. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: President Biden’s “Buy American” policy means increasing the US content in things purchased by the federal government. Except when it doesn’t.

Biden announced the policy in July. LNA raised the prospect that the increasing US content requirements could make it difficult for Lockheed Martin and Airbus to offer an A330-200-based airplane for the US Air Force’s KC-Y Bridge Tanker.

LNA now has clarity on this. Under Biden’s Buy American policy, there are—as it turns out—some key exemptions.

1933 Buy American Act

The Buy American Act of 1933 already exempted public interest, unreasonable costs, commercially available off-the-shelf products (a category the A330 already falls into), and “qualifying countries.”

The US Department of Defense defines qualifying countries as those with which there are reciprocal defense procurement agreements or Memoranda of Understanding. These agreements and MOUs provide for the removal of trade barriers in purchasing supplies. In the context of the A330, virtually all Europe falls within this definition.

Additionally, under rules from the World Trade Organization, its Government Procurement Act (GPA) gives companies the right to bid on foreign government procurements. Forty-eight countries are parties to this agreement, including the US, European Union, and UK. EU and UK companies are suppliers to the A330, as are US companies. Furthermore, there is a specific exemption for “essential security interests.”

Finally, none of the limits in the GPA applies to the “acquisition of arms, ammunition, war materials or purchases indispensable for national security or national defense purposes.”

So, that appears to settle that.

ATSG opts for A330ceo P2Fs

ATSG, one of the major cargo operators and airplane suppliers, ordered 20 Airbus A330ceo P2F conversions from EFW-ST Aerospace. This brings total EFW contracts to 100.

The move by ATSG, which is a leading supplier to Amazon’s Prime Air, is significant. ATSG is a major operator of Boeing 767 P2Fs and holds slots with IAI for 32 more conversions.

But ATSG says the acquisition of the A330s, with deliveries from 2023-2025, responds to growing interest in this type of aircraft. ATSG prefers the A330-300, a good package express freighter. It will consider A330-200 P2Fs for denser heavy cargo, longer-range routes.

Another announced quad-jet passenger aircraft retirement

Korean Air CEO Cho Won-Tae announced in an interview with Flightglobal that the carrier would retire its Airbus A380s and Boeing 747-8s from passenger service within five and 10 years, respectively.

The carriers’ A380s and 747-8s are on average around 10 and five years old, respectively. Asiana Airlines, which Korean Air is in the process of acquiring, has six A380s that are six years old on average.

The decision to retire the A380s shows the challenges in profitably operating the type, especially in a post-COVID world. It is worth noting that Lufthansa permanently grounded its A380 fleet but intends to keep its smaller 747-8s in service for longer.

The closest replacements to those quad jets are the Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 777-9. However, passenger service won’t be the only consideration for the carrier’s fleet renewal.

Asiana and Korean Air are among the few carriers that managed to turn operating profits since the COVID-19 pandemic onset. Both carriers had large cargo operations pre-pandemic that could capitalize on the surge in cargo yields and e-commerce boom.

Therefore, Airbus and Boeing’s cargo offerings will likely have a significant influence on the carrier’s fleet renewal decisions. Airbus started offering the A350F while Boeing is still studying the launch of a 777X-F.

Asiana has outstanding orders for eight A350-900s and nine A350-1000s. Korean Air has 30 outstanding orders for Dreamliners (10 787-9s and 10 787-10s via OEM orders, and 10 787-10s via a lessor).

As outlined in a previous LNA article,  Korean Air has 28 in-service twin-aisle aircraft that were delivered 19 or more years ago. Korean Air is also among the few A380 and 747-8 operators that did not order the A350-1000 or 777X.

A merged Korean Air that retires its aging quad-jet passenger aircraft is among the most significant opportunities for Airbus and Boeing to accumulate A350 and 777X orders.

One should though expect the carrier to place orders once the merger with Asiana is complete and long-haul passenger traffic levels recover to healthy levels.

129 Comments on “HOTR: When “Buy American” isn’t

  1. Regarding “Buy American”, it’s really hard to predict what will happen with the bridge tanker:
    – On the one hand, with Boeing on its knees on all fronts (commercial, defense, space), Uncle Sam will probably be keen to try to help it out as much as possible;
    – On the other hand, the US armed forces have been saddled with a whole string of sub-standard products in the past few years (air, naval, land), and they’re probably yearning for a product that actually performs according to spec.

    Add in the huge federal deficit, trade wars and increasing Chinese military might, and the picture becomes even more complicated.
    Any bets?

    • @Bryce

      Yes I’ll bet you you can name the last DoD disaster with the non working planes boats ships missiles whatever they have bought from US suppliers– clue my first is in Asia….
      Apart from all the exemptions listed by Scott, there are also the de facto exceptions which spring from lack of adequate US manufacturers – computer chips is one, but there are many others, e.g. titanium products

      This simplistic Buy A program, involving a narrowing choice of suppliers, squares un easily with general complaints, including DoD, about industry consolidation/monopolisation and the disastrous effects of the lack of competition on US manufacture capacity, quality, associated loss of engineering skills – sounds a suspiciously accurate description of a certain OEM

      It is questionable whether the Admin has the skills resources knowhow or will to on shore any significant portions of essential manufacture

      Best seen as cackhanded PR nada mas

    • @Bryce

      Would you buy a lemon when the willing seller chops 10% off the price of a good working tanker?? Deal? Deal.

    • Industrial capacity is far more important to ‘winning’ a war than relatively minor differences in aircraft performance. I think that for the moment is still understood in the US and Boeing will get a leg up.

      Like most things its a matter of will power. Who and what do the people that are running the show love, hate or don’t care about.

      The Symbolic Analytic elites that seem to run things in the world and the US don’t seem to care about such blue collar things and have allowed a de-industrlisation to occur as they position themselves for global trade and with it a loss in independence but they do care about power. Their attitudes to Israel, China, Middle Eastern Oil, Putin/Russia their own wealth and prestige will decide.

  2. Looks like the freighter market is evolving or becoming two markets. One traditional one for dense cargo and a package market. Like ATSG IAI is converting the larger aircraft (777ER-300 rather than the -200) reportedly due to impact of the package market.

    I wonder what sizing AB has chosen for the A350F and if they are on the right side of the trend? And if the freighter market is fundamentally changing Boeing has a chance to get it right with the 777x freighter.

    • jbeeko:

      That mirrors some of my thoughts. But its also not solidified.

      The 777F uptake by FedEx is kind of the outlier in that its really a heavy freighter. FedEx did not like 4 engine aircraft (they had experience with the old Tigers fleet ). Still they went with the A380F (like UPS)

      Vast majority of the 767F was UPS and then FedEx. They operate them differently though. UPS runs them international (winlgets) and FedEx is Regional (regional in the sense of US/Europe/Asia but rarely cross from one to the other with the 767F. )

      The one report we are missing is how many 757-200 are available for conversion? FedEx took around 100 of the available, total produion was about 1000 of the 757-200.

      Subtract UPS and some government bought and you have 700? Seems like that is good feedstock though age can start to factor in (does the hull have enough life to make the conversion costs worth it?)

      At some pointy both FedEx and UPS will need more 757F class freighters.

      Also missing is what the floor loading on the 777X is and where that fits in the comparison with the A350F.

      Boeing made that decision to use the 777-200 as the F variant and not the 300. I think that was floor loading decision vs bulk as its been a popular with the heavy freight operators.

      FedEx seems to be flexibility they found with the MD-11 (very close to same load). UPS clearly went with the 747-400F and -8F.

    • That’s not difficult. The A350F length will be between -900 and -1000. Then Airbus could build two versions with the same length, one with high payload and the other with low payload which will be better if volume is the priority.
      Payload prority:
      MZFW basis, engines and MLG from the A350-1000.
      Volume priority:
      Engines, MLG and wings from the A350-900.

      • Well that depends if there is sufficient demand for both to warrant the certification effort.

        • What is new that needs certification, only the fuselage section with cargo door and increased MZFW.
          Same as the 251t A330neo, which was 9t more, not that difficult to certify.
          Same as the A321F, it will be a variant of the XLR.
          The 777X is much more difficult to certify because it’s a complete new plane.

          • An A321XLR-F freighter variant makes sense from the point of view of the aircrafts increased MZFW/MTOW and range as well as the fact that it has exceptional range. A321ceo PTF conversion can be expected to handle a full cargo to about 2300nmi and so a A321-F new build better offer something much better.

            However the A321LR is available now and a A321LR-F could be in service much sooner.

            I can imagine a hybrid of the Ar21XLR wings (to get the increased MTOW) and the A321LR fuselage (minus the RCT tank).

            There may be a place for long and thin routes of high frequency traffic.

        • Airbus has built 3 different sub-species of the A321 neo, in reaction to technical developments and market demand. It’s now busy with a 4th sub-species.
          If Airbus sees a need, it will come with different versions of the A350F. Unlike Boeing, Airbus has plenty of money and resources to play with.

      • I wonder if and intermediate version of the A350-950F will ever develop into a passenger version. Also which version of the Trent XWB, the XWB-84 of the 900 or the xwb-97 of the 1000

        • Think the A350-950F is heavier than a pure pax version. Hence buying an A350-1000 is cheaper than a A350-950CF. But there might be a small but existing market like KLM or Alaska Airlines. You could have double floors where you pull out the chairs and floor panels and below is the cargo equipment to move and lock containers.

    • The development of a new build A350-950F freighter might develop the technologies and CFRP panels that will make a A350-900 & A350-1000 P2F conversion viable. After all the EFW is a joint venture between Singapore Technologies and Airbus.

      Airbus would then have all possibilities covered without devaluing its customers A350 resale value into the P2F market.

      There seems to be a niche of ultra long range freighters. China to North and Sth America; Australia and New Zealand to the US. The cargo carried can be complex it might be e-commerce goods in one direction and non seasonal perishable produce such as blueberries, cherries and avocados from Santiago. in the other.

      • That’s an interesting though, a parts kit for a P2F conversation. The P2F conversion of the -1000 will then be the low density freight version.

        • The lack of realistic P2F conversion possibilities for the A380-800 have clearly devalued the aircraft’s resale value. I suspect Airbus would want to protect the after market value to make a new sale attractive. When an airline is deciding between A350-900 and B787-9 that might be the deciding factor. I don’t think there is a problem with converting the A380 with its GLARE fuselage: its merely caused by the complexities of loading the second deck.

          • William:

            The issue is that its a huge process to even think about A380F, Airbus failed at it.

            You also have to realize that it takes specialized equipment to reach that second deck.

            The only two ops that ordered a A380F (UPS and FedEx) have long ago made their choices (747 and 777) – both of which operate with existing equipment.

            No one is going to touch an A380F conversions, there is no market for it. Plenty of feedstock though.

          • William:

            There is no feed-stock for a A350-1000.

            That is why FedEx bought new 777F, the one source was taken away and there was no source for years to come.

            And that even assumes anyone wanted a A350-1000 conversion and could afford it.

      • ‘William’:
        “….without devaluing its customers A350 resale value into the P2F market.”

        Uh, wouldn’t demand for used A350s help present operators of the type, by providing increased demand for used ones.

      • “There seems to be a niche of ultra long range freighters.”

        But someone else claimed that range does not matter for freighters. I rejected her/his nonsense, with reasons. ‘A pox on pontificators!’ I say.

  3. Off topic:

    An analyst forecasts the B777X freighter won’t be ready until 2028 the earliest if BA goes ahead, giving the A350 freighter a three year head start.

    • Pedro:

      The discussion on the A350F and 777X-F are in the write-up so I think it is topical.

      I believe the A350F is 2025, so its going to be interesting to see if Boeing advances its timeline.

      They certainly are not doing anything else and they did plan on a 777X-F freighter from the start so they will have a significant amount of work done.

      Not that Calhoun can’t drag his feet like he is on other projects. T

      • There is one real fly in the ointment for the Airbus LM seeks to use in the next tanker competition. It lacks the thrust required to do a breakaway, accelerate and climb away from a receiver aircraft in an emergency…. It will be interesting to see how that specific issue is addressed.

        • @ Scott Correa:

          Do you have data or a spec on that? New one on me. KC-46 has less thrust than an A330MRT but it carries less weight.

          I have not seen any references to that as an operating aspect or spec (does not mean its not there)

          My assumption is the receiving aircrat just throttles back and would quickly clear and escape down vs a heavy tanker doing a break away maneuver .

          • TW, there was a question about maximum speed of the A330 tanker to suit fast fighters.

            Apparently the KC-135 has to go into a dive with its customer to keep speed up, a thrust limitation which I presume the ones with CFM56 engines are not as limited by.

            Airbus botched by misunderstanding maximum speed in operation versus overspeed used to establish that maximum. Terminology a bit confusing as it has been called something like ‘design dive speed’ because the testing value is based on assumption of an upset thus dive.

        • Interesting question Scott Correa.

          The A330neo has the newer Trent 7000, about 5% more thrust at takeoff rating if I understand correctly. Perhaps heavier, it is closer to the Trent 1000 than the Trent 700 on the A330ceo.

          A furrin engine, but perhaps Rolls can assemble in their Allison plant in the US, which already produces smaller turbofan engines.

      • There are a bunch of MD-11 from UPS and FedEx that may need replacement over next 15 years. FedEx bets on B777F. UPS CEO talked up replacement of its MD-11 recently. Would watch how it goes in next 12-36 months.

        • Pedro:

          I think you can amend that to will be replaced in 10-15 years for FedEx, UPS comment looks to be a different timeline.

          The 777F is a slightly better MD-11 (cargo wise) a 777PCF would be identical though you have the efficiency of fuel burn and one less engine.

          With the folding wings the 777F fits in current 777/747 -400 sized hangers. Not sure on 747-8 though UPS has not stated any issues, it would be seriously tight on some older hangers.

  4. The A330-300 makes a lot of sense for Package ops. Airbus may well have missed an opportunity going with the 200F. Gauging the market clearly is not easy.

    Like the A330MRT, in some hands it suits and works well and others not so much. Every 10 KC-46 built, the US gets one free.

  5. Airbus is saying that the MD-11F is its target market and they need to make 150 for it to be a success.

    That is a really high bar as most MD-11F were conversions not F originally (FedEx I think was the only new F customer) FedEx has had to convert the Pax type to fill in their F needs.

    That puts the A350F more as a direct 777-200F competitor (haul the same load weight wise and the range is about the same, its only if you drop some load for fuel can you make longer trips)

  6. There is probably no competing against the P2F conversion from the existing rolling stock. Hence new build Freighters from the manufacturer should have high payload capabilities for dense cargo such as seafood and fruits while leaving the P2F aircraft to cover the lighter packages segment.

    • Vince:

      From what I have seen, the package freight ops with much better revenue generation can afford new aircart (UPS x 757/747/767)

      FedEx and the 767/777.

      UPS was the only one that took the 757F new. Granted only the A321 would match it and not available back then.

      I think UPS is or will be the 2nd larger 747-8F operator.

      Pretty fascinating with the ebbs and flows. UPS was late to the MD-11, FedEx was the first. UPS was first with the 757 (and new F) and FedEx late and had to convert them (we saw some of the junk go through Anchorage and one had to go back to the states for conversion as it could never get all the needed equipment working for the Anch to Asia jump, I think they gave it 6 shots and gave up – FedEx was desperate and it had sat in Florida for 5 year deteriorating)

      • “I think they gave it 6 shots and gave up – FedEx was desperate and it had sat in Florida for 5 year deteriorating)”

        OEM and P2F are not created equal, never.

  7. Sounds reasonable. Add in the procrastination from the board, over the business case, i think 3 year head start is probably the most optimistic outcome.
    Saw another analysis elsewhere that says the B777XF is in some kind of limbo situation. On one hand, Boeing has no better alternative to launch the B777XF to defend the freighter segment. The B787 may be too costly and challenging to launch a freighter variant and in such short time and the B767F is too old to put up any fight. On the other hand, the freighter market is currently flooded with P2F backlogs due to the premature aircraft retirements from the pandemic. And with the A350F getting a head start in collecting orders, there may not be enough commitments from airlines for boeing to kick off the B777XF. So unless the A350F fails miserably like the A330-200F vs B777-200F, otherwise the B777XF may potentially not even make it out of the c-suits.

    • If BA really intends to do a 777XF, and has supposedly been working on it for quite some time, isn’t it then strange that it hasn’t been announced yet?
      There are more urgent programs on Boeing’s plate at this time…and it doesn’t have the cash for several programs simultaneously.

      • “””If BA … has supposedly been working on it for quite some time, isn’t it then strange that it hasn’t been announced yet?”””

        Boeing lost its Know-How. It wasn’t needed with self-certs. Now they don’t know how to fix the 777-9 and 787 and the world is watching.
        Even if Boeing can fix the 777-9, nobody will pay top dollar for it.
        Boeing needs to survive. Is the 777XF really so important to survive. The 777XF will have some disadvantages vs the 777F, it is much heavier, it would not need the new wings.

        • @Leon
          Agree. Boeing lost its know how in this business. They over priced the B777X thinking that airlines will still choose it over the A350. Can you imagine the B777-9 just cost 5% less than an A380!
          The B777XF will have lower payload, that is for sure. But you keep insisting that i does not need a new wing is not true at all. The B777XF needs the new GE9X. The old wing is not strong enough to take the weight and it needs the extra ground clearance from the wings otherwise its another max. No new wing = no GE9X = EOL in 2028.

          • Thanks Vince,

            the new engines are of course a need. I should have said a 777XF would not need big folding wings.

            In the past, Boeing often chose small wings, maybe because small is cheaper. Small is not that bad for a freighter, but Boeing might not do a special F wing.
            It’s much easier for Airbus, they have the -1000 and -900 wings in the box.

          • @Leon

            Removing the folded wingtips would result in a frankenstein wing that would probably lose a couple of % in aerodynamic efficiency. How that cascades down to a poorer fuel economics and reduced field performance is quite unknown. But as things stands now the operational cost per trip of the B777-9 vs the A350-1000 are so close they are said to be identical. Removing the folding wingtip may not result in anything favorable for the B777XF. Keeping the folded wingtip is perhaps the most optimal solution.

          • You guys are missing that price is list and its negotiated.

            A380 was as much as 60% off for the early buyers.

            As the 777X is now beyond its delivery time line, the buyers can negotiate better terms as well.

            Hanging a hat on list pricing is irrelevant

        • Leon said:
          “it would not need the new wings.”

          I’ve seen worse, but this thread is definitely full of pontificating, with some illogical claims.

          Bigger wings reduce fuel consumption and increase lift capability.

          • Keith,

            try to think not so simple. General capabilities for long range pax aircraft must not be valid for freighters.

            1. Freighters are about payload, not range.
            2. Bigger wings are heavy. Folding wings are a poor design for freighters. On shorter range, heavier wings won’t contribute to less fuel burn.
            3. Often the MTOW is reduced on freighters because much fuel is not needed for reduced range. This lower MTOW decrease the needed lift of the wings and decrease airport fees. That’s why older A330 with less MTOW are not a problem for P2F conversions.
            4. Fuel burn is less important. That’s why there are many P2F conversions with less fuel efficient old models.

    • Vince:

      Agreed, Boeing gets it in gear or the A350 sows up the initial market (I am skeptical of 150 total for A350 let alone 777 conversions but…..)

      That said there is are large factors in play here. The main reason for the F shortage is low international flights and no belly freight.

      So how much belly freight comes back on or does not……..

      And what the status for replacement new F types? Boeing sold a lot of the 777F and Qatar is a rare operator that has a 10 year time line on replacement. Everyone else looks at what they have, vs the economics of new or converted and makes decisions accordingly.

      A350F is wider, 777-XF is longer and how that all plays into heavy vs package freight ops.

      Boeing has delivered 247 new 777F in a no competitor market. 150 x A350F in a market with a 777X-F as well as 777 conversions coming available, begs a question to the A380F.

      One aspect is that there really are a number of F markets.

      Single Aisle per the 757-A321F.

      Small wide body aka the 767/A330-200F or conversions

      Then the A330-300F conversions that is a slot all its own.

      Up to the A350F/777F/777X-F that is another area or maybe two.

      And while not a show stopper, can structure is all based on Boeing widths though the 777F can take higher cans (by 2 feet).

      FedEx operated for quite some time using the shorter cans. Last 5 years they started using the taller ones . 777X-F would fit that can structure (and not just cans, decks and loaders are all affected).

  8. The A330MRTT is a conversion of the A330-200. With the amount of A330MRTT orders lately I’ve the impression Airbus needs to open a second A330-200 to MRTT conversion shop. (besides the one in Spain).
    The same is the case for EWT with the A330P2F program. Conversion shops will have to be opened in Asia and the US.

    I wonder if NG/Airbus can offer multiple tanker aircraft sizes for the KC-Y tanker program. So the A330MRTT, as replacement for the KC-10 (A330-200 conversions).
    And an A321XLR (I hate that name) and/or A330/A300NEW with D-class (<52m) wingspan tanker.
    Or could the USAF/DoD divide the contract between Boeing and NG/Airbus.
    I don't expect Airbus to continue A330-200 production for MRTT into the 2030's. Does anyone expect that Boeing continues 767-2C production into the 2030's. Or is reengining required after 2027?
    So most likely what the USAF/DoD want's. Hardly any certification work for the KC-Y tanker; very likely can't be realized.

    • Military aircraft are exempt from the ICAO emissions requirements, so Boeing can continue to produce the 767-2C / KC-46 past 2028.

      Calhoun, answering questions in the Boeing 2Q results conference call the other week, strongly suggested that he wants the US Gov to give the 767F an exemption from having to comply with the 2028+ ICAO emissions regulations.

      How that plays with the sustainability commitments of FedEx and UPS is something I haven’t seen addressed, never mind the climate commitments made by the US.

      But, at face value, Boeing will be able to continue without an engine update…

      • So, looking to the left, Joe says he wants to drastically reduce emissions…and, looking to the right, favors/exemptions will be granted to industrial giants.
        Business as usual in D.C.

      • @Dave

        Only If BA’s plan is to not sell the 767 outside the US: it is unlikely that the RotW will accept any exception the US tries to seek

        Yes you are right about Fedex etc, how will they cope with worldwide sanctions for failing to comply?

        If BA is determined to continue to shrink into a regional one country supplier, it could not have chosen a better way than dissing CChange, well other than the falling sky planes… . and the……etc etc

    • A321 is small, USAF already has KC-130 (used for helicopters but fairly fast so perhaps could refuel slow fighters that use hose-drogue as USN/Marines do.

      A point is that the final equipment fit of military equipment needs high security, Boeing used to do that by flying the airplane to Wichita but has been trying to do more in Everett for the KC-46A. (Including by building provisions into the s/ns on the regular 767 production line as options like airline ones, then finishing fitting military equipment in a more secure area nearby in the same building. ) I presume Northrop-Grumman can find secure places in the US to compete fitting military equipment. I expect there is much commonality of function with NATO aircraft, but actual hardware may be different (

  9. @All Commentors

    These AB versus BA freighter or tanker arguments belong to a previous post and here are off topic

    This post is concerning the Buy American policy and how or whether this will influence/effect awarding of contract, shore up local manufacture, in the US – by ricochet world wide

    It is hardly necessary to remind of the very far reaching impact of President Trump’s similar themed buy American tariffs and sanctions régimes

    This Biden policy, although full of holes, reaches out to follow, as other of his policies, in the footsteps

    So – Will anything be done to save Boeing?

    • @ Gerrard
      Well, there was a mini-paragraph in the middle of the write-up with the title:
      “ATSG opts for A330ceo P2Fs”
      Hence the discussion of freighters.

      However, the first part of the article is perhaps far more important, since it will probably cause multiple frictions with various “friends” for years to come.
      Regarding saving Boeing: with the worsening crisis in Asia-Pacific — and worldwide — I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more customers making use of the penalty-free cancellation possibilities at Boeing, thereby further eroding income/earnings in the face of crippling debt servicing costs. At what stage will Uncle Sam step in? Will it be like Fannie and Freddie?

      • @Bryce

        Well they saw the opening and they rushed it – yet the title of the post is quite explicit – and there was a post only yesterday going over this subject at great length

        It’s a heck of lot easier to play at barnyard tinkering with MTOW this and wingtip that than to discuss/analyse if BA (and GM! and all the rest of the merry men) can afford even to try make a plane let alone make one, or how, or why

        In the context of a renewed call to national resources so inadequately expressed and managed that the underlying lack of essential industrial capability and capacity is barely acknowledged – an empty cry of failure

        Some sort of software solution will be applied to Boeing, some services cloned out (those which not already) some brand name franchising, the rest handed over to the derivatives market

        As you note pax trvl is done for intl, and dmstc is already shrinking, come autumn will nosedive – severely shrunk is long term, no more back to normal babble: this CCC crisis is still only getting started, spoiler alert *


  10. During KC-X competitions there wasn’t an official buy American policy, still there was. For KC-Y no different and congress (via committees & GAO) in charge again I presume.

    • Keesje:

      GAO has nothing to do with buy American.

      The US has an unusual approach to some areas (NTSB) that are intended to be non political (I won’t say its fully successful but mostly). Structural wise positions are longer than Presidential terms and (again mostly) can’t be truncated at the whim of the president.

      The GAO exists to assess a protested contract (has to be protested it does not act on its own) . Further it has to be a substantial violation to overturn.

      That does not mean there are not political forces at work. A recent Frigate contract was let based on a key state. Equally legislative people want money going into their districts and not another country.

      Offsets are standard fare regardless of the country letting the contract and at time production is required in country.

    • Keesje, it depends on how hungry USAF is for the combination of big AND non-developmental PLUS if Congress supports their priorities.

      (I don’t know if ‘developmental’ includes tanking equipment or just the basic airplane. I’d expect USAF to not be keen on a 777 tanker because of Boeing’s difficulties with aerodynamics such as pods on the KC-767s for Italy and Japan, recent troubles with finishing the KC-46A, and current KC-Y competition being an interim tanker so not as long a time horizon thus less desire to advance. Not that Airbus got the job done expeditiously, but it got done – the A330MRTT is in service, as with the KC-46A now.

      Note the A330 is being assembled in the US, can have GE or Pratt engines. Avionics and mechanical systems perhaps a mix (Thales has been bigger in Airbus aircraft I gather).

      • Adding that the A330ceo can also have Rolls engines, furrin of course.

        The A330meo only comes with Rolls engines, perhaps they can be assembled in its Allison plant in the US which assembles smaller turbofan engines.

        (For those who think Allison only makes the little turboshaft for small helicopters, in fact it has long made large turboprops (the ones on C130s), made sizeable jet.turbofan engines for military, now makes the R-R GMA3007 turbofan on some Embraer and Gulfstream airplanes. The GMA3007 was developed by Allison.

  11. Clearly, the USAF is interested in a significantly higher KC-Y fuel offload capability than what the KC-46 is able provide — as indicated in question #3.2.4 in the RFI.

    Hence, the RFP is very likely not going to favour the KC-46.


    3.2.3 What is your candidate aircraft(s) fuel offload capability at ranges from 0 3,000 nautical miles radius assuming the following ground rules: Radius is defined as standard day takeoff, fly to the AR track, orbit for one hour, offload fuel, and return to original base with required reserve fuel. Aircraft should operate with maximum fuel efficiency within current aviation technology, without any degradation to mission/aircraft performance (please respond with a table/graph showing increments of at least 500 nautical miles).

    3.2.4 What and how could your candidate aircraft(s) increase its fuel offload capacity at range? Do your candidate aircraft(s) have the capability to increase fuel offload by 5,000 to 50,000 lbs.? What is the capability and what (if any) tradeoffs to the aircraft(s) technical performance would come with this increased offload capacity?

    Following the 2011 decision to buy the KC-46, the Air Force instead said it would simply buy three tranches of the Boeing plane, but now the service seems to have reversed course again in the wake of KC-46 production delays, explains a June 24 report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). In addition, CRS noted, the service might also look at simply hiring commercial operators to provide refueling as a service.

    “Overall, these changes to the Air Force’s tanker roadmap mean that the previous two-tanker fleet, which was expected to evolve for a time to a single model, could eventually become a three-tanker fleet (KC-46, Bridge Tanker, and Advanced Air Refueling Tanker) plus whatever types contractors operate,” CRS said.

    There are concrete signs of that happening. On June 14, the service issued a “sources sought” notification for the KC-Y Bridge Tanker; and on Monday it issued a formal “Request for Information” focused on a “Commercial Derivative Aircraft” that must be operable by 2030. The RFI states that the service “is seeking information from interested companies with the capability to deliver approximately 140-160 Commercial Derivative Tanker Aircraft to supplement the Air Force Tanker Aircraft fleet at the end of KC-46 production to bridge the gap to the next Tanker recapitalization phase.”

    The next phase of the Air Force’s long-term tanker recapitalization program may have some Lockheed Martin Skunk Works flavor, and the advanced development unit is looking ahead to the stealthy KC-Z competition and a potential lighter-than-air transport, Skunk Works Vice President and General Manager Jeff A. Babione said.

    Speaking with reporters earlier this month ahead of the opening of a new production facility at Lockheed’s Palmdale, Calif., location at Air Force Plant 42, Babione said Lockheed responded to USAF’s “bridge tanker” sources-sought notice in June with what he called the “LMXT” variant of the Airbus KC-30 tanker. He could not immediately say what the new “LMXT” branding stands for, but while Lockheed’s aero unit is leading the hunt for USAF tanker work, Skunk Works is adding things to the proposal to make it more attractive.

    Babione said Skunk Works will be “enhancing” the LMXT offering with additional survivability and countermeasures, and “various other communications systems that have to be augmented,” as well as other improvements.

    “I think we have a very compelling platform that we are putting forward,” Babione said. Skunk Works “is part of the team putting that proposal together when it comes to what kind of advanced technologies you want to put on the platform.”

    The Air Force is seeking information from contractors who could offer a solution for the second part of its tanker recap program. Previously known as “KC-Y,” this phase will seek to buy between 140 and 160 non-developmental aircraft, with the first examples operational in 2029. The program could get formally underway as early as next year.

    • If the KC-46 isn’t big enough & the requirements can’t be “rationalized” a KC777 is the way forward. The 777 production line and supply chain can use some revitalization. The perfect supplement to the KC-46 and KC-10 replacement. Add selection points for extra capability! (when KC-46 doesn’t contend).

      • A KC-777/KC-777X would not be competitive against a MRTT based on the A333neo.

        • Equally an A330MRT to meet USAF specs is going to be a part developmental program.

        • That can be reworked. I see the KC-10 has a 90t capacity and huge deck. Asia (China) has become important, trans pacific range may have new value (e.g. C-17s need tankers).
          If additional capability is rewarded (KC-X round 2) a 777 based tanker has competitive advantages.
          Apart from that, what if the 777 backlog isn’t a rosy as hoped? +20 777 per year extra for 8 years for the 777 line could be strategically important for the US aerospace supply chain for the next 12 years. The same +20 for the A330, harmfull for the 787..

          • The KC-Y is based on existing tankers in production. That means the KC-46 and A330MRT.

          • Keeje:

            If the US cannot use regional bases for any reason there will be no US activity in Asia.

            You cannot run an Asian conflict from the US.

            Trans Pacific range is not required and a KC-46 can deploy itself as needed using its own fuel. Passenger delivery aircraft do it all the time, full fuel and no pax and they have a very very long range.

          • @TransWorld

            USAF needed a jet-powered tanker to refuel the B-52 and the solution was the
            KC-135. The US Strategic Air Command (SAC) concept of operations was
            straightforward: Bomber and tanker
            aircraft sat alert together, launched
            together, and flew together. As the
            bombers approached Soviet airspace — and still not that far away from North American airspace — the tankers would break away and return to their home bases. For most of the remaining part of the Cold War, this was the SAC routine, and both types of aircraft spent most of their time on alert.

            Clearly, the USAF now wants a significantly higher fuel offload capability for the KC-Y than what can currently be offloaded from the KC-135 and KC-135-sized KC-46 tankers.

        • Competitive for what role, OV-999?

          Depends on how much capacity you want versus commonality. A B-52 burns a lot of fuel – that’s why the KC-10 exists, less in future if USAF gets its duff in gear and reengines the B-52. (I’m skeptical it will any day soon given the golden opportunity it turned down – offers from PW and Rolls to lease 757-size engines. I presume USAF would have had to pay for the conversion from eight to four engines, the new scheme keeps eight but newer technology.)

    • “Maximum efficiency within current technology” seems to imply neither would be the winner? It’s like they want a new program yet say they want derivative aircraft

      • The A330neo is, in fact, state-of-the-art.

        Now, the USAF, apparently, wants more “workspace” onboard the KC-Y:

        From the KC-Y RFI:

        3.2.18 What (if any) provisions are there for “Mission Teams” (passengers that accomplish a distinct or separate mission while airborne) to have connectivity, a workspace, and utilize the federated missions system(s)?

        3.2.19 What (if any) provisions are there for accommodating multiple beyond-line-ofsight data pathways in a fashion that allows the government to change hardware and service providers rapidly?

        3.2.20 What additional technologies/systems are not yet fully developed and operational that you believe would be beneficial to the USAF. Are any of these capabilities being used, or are planned for use with US allies/partners.

        Interestingly, a 252 a metric tonne A330-900 MRTT would have more “workspace” available between doors 1 and 2 if the main deck cargo door would be moved aft of the wing and with the main cargo deck located aft of doors 2L/2R — and LM is apparently offering a LMXT with additional survivability and countermeasures, and “various other communications systems that have to be augmented,” as well as other improvements.

        • I mean it could be a neo or 777x to meet that requirement but neither would be a “non developmental” tanker. I also have my suspicions that they’d complicate even a MRTT but with added requirements, some of the KC46 is Boeing’s boondoggle, but it seems scope creep is an issue with all contracts, otherwise they would have just taken a kc767 like other governments. If it’s current offerings I’d likely believe based on sizing issues that they’d go with the a330 for only KC10 replacements and more KC46s for the rest and split the contract. Even a 777/a330 would be a stretch to house most places a kc135 sits today and I’d suspect it will come to that again. They could rationalize a smaller MRTT fleet because of other operators worldwide using it.

          • There needs to be some definition thought given here.

            The A330MRT is a current tanker, no question.

            But, the USAF has specification that were not public as to defense capability (not just ballistic protection, anti missile and jamming) and communications node suites that we do not know that the A330MRT has or presented options for (there have been some items put out that there are enhanced packages for the A330MRT as options, I have not seen that those have been fitted)

            To this point it looks like there is no A330MRT match to the KC-46 built spec (yes its boom vision system is superior). Boeing has an interim fix and then a new system in the works.

            What the USAF/USN has found is that aircraft like the P-3 and P-8 have so much capability they work as an AWACs like role.

            My take is that the USAF saw the KC-X as a means to put that into the tankers to take advantage of where they were at as well as the need. Future needs were evident for controlling drones.

            If there is a sea change in tankers, it will be KC-Z, the KC-Y is clearly a holding action. Boeing is exploring the KC-X area with the MQ-25 (its not the answer but its going in that direction)

            But anything stealthy is a in direct opposition to carrying extra people.

            Clearly the KC-Y is KC-46 most likely or remotely A330MRT.

            Keeping in mind, the KC-46 is fully modernized cockpit that exceeds the A330MRT cockpit (787). Clearly Boeing felt that costly shift was important (and is with ADS-B and a plethora of development in just navigation since the 767)

            Current 767s (F) use the original 767 cockpit so it was for the USAF KC-46 only.

            The KC-46 has no lack of space for equipment or missions specialist if they want to take up some of the cabin (cargo)

            The only thing that changes that is if Cargo is a bonus and then the A300MRT has an advantage there.

          • OV-099:

            There is also a listing for a 5 to 50000 lb increase off load capability and how or can you achiever that?

            You will note that there are many references to Top Secret secrecy clearance required to access some specifications.

            What we don’t know is what the KC-46 already has in that regard.

            There are no adjustment factors listed, that would be in the RFP.

          • @TransWorld

            _______________MTOW (kg)

            A330-200 MRTT____233,000

            NB: 50,000 lb (of additional fuel offload) = 22,680 kg

            Now, as you can see the KC-46 has a higher MTOW than the 767-300ER — in fact, it appears to be maxed-out.

            Only a shortened version of the 767-400ER — or yet another Frankentanker type development imbroglio waiting to happen — would be able to carry more fuel to offload. Taking into account the added dry weight of a shortened KC-767-400ER over that of the KC-46 and the tare weight of the additional fuel tanks required (etc.), you’d have to reduce the maximum amount of additional fuel carried from 35,000 lbs to less than 20,000 lbs.

            In contrast, the MTOW of an A330 MRTT can be increased not only to 251,000 kg (new A330neo standard), but even as high as 276,500 kg if the third (2-wheel) landing gear from the A340-200/-300 were to be used. In fact, without the centre gear, the weights which the A340-200/-300 operate at are more or less those of a maxed out A330s (earlier versions). However, the centre gear itself is not a landing load bearing gear — in contrast to the 4-wheel landing load bearing gear on the A340-500/-600. Hence, the A342/A343 centre gear would significantly increase the fuel offload capability (but not cargo) of a MRTT based off the A33oneo. BTW, the A342/A343 centre landing gear doesn’t touch the ground, it hangs a few centimetres off the ground, when unloaded/unfuelled.

            Now, let’s take look at the thrust figures for the Trent-1000 TEN and the Trent-7000 engines on page 14 in this document:


            As you can see, the Trent 7000 engine appears to have a growth potential in take-off thrust of, at least, 8000 lbf.

            One should also keep in mind that the A330 wing has the highest wing aspect ratio of any modern widebody and that its wing is swept back at 30 degrees, while the 787 has a wing sweep of 32 degrees, and that a higher wing sweep angle means that more thrust is required during take-off. Thus, two 80,000 lbf Trent 7000 engines should be sufficient for powering a “next generation” A330-900 MRTT, using a centre gear and MTOW as high as 276,500 kg and which would have a fuel offload capabilty more than 100,000 lbs higher than the current KC-46.

          • @TransWorld

            Keeping in mind, the KC-46 is fully modernized cockpit that exceeds the A330MRT cockpit (787). Clearly Boeing felt that costly shift was important (and is with ADS-B and a plethora of development in just navigation since the 767)

            I’m sorry but the 767 is not a fly-by-wire aircraft and the 767 cockpit is similar to the A310 cockpit. Hence, the KC-46 flight control-system architecture and cockpit is fundamentally still far less advanced than the A330 MRTT cockpit.

            Therefore, mounting four 787-type 15″ large forward display screens in the 767 cockpit accounts for nothing but putting lipstick on a pig.

            On a similar note; why does Boeing always want to change cockpits (superficially) while Airbus is sticking to the original lay-out.

            For example, did the four new 787-type 15″ large forward display screens in the 737 MAX do anything for the MAX programme? Why couldn’t Boeing retain the same basic 777 cockpit and flight-control system architecture for the 777X as Airbus did with the A320neo and A330neo programmes, something which BTW seems partly responsible for the long delay in the 777X programme.

        • I wonder how much fuel an A321FXLR with two ACXTs as well could offload? It would be a smaller, cheaper alternative to A330 or 767-based tankers and still offer wide range of capability.

          • One XLR RCT has 12900L, three of them 38700L.
            The A321 wings can take 23580L.
            All together 62280L are half of the A330MRTT capacity.

        • People, keep in mind USAF purchased DC-10s as tankers to better support large bombers.

          Note USAF is retiring a large chunk of the KC-10 fleet.

          I thought the original definition of KC-Y was to replace the KC-10s.

          Thus USAF will lean toward a bigger tanker than the KC-46A which is not much larger than a KC-135 for offload capacity. Unless it decides to go smaller for logistics commonality. They might also consider diversity of type in case one model has problems that greatly reduce availability for a while.

          Remember that Boeing floated the notion of a 777 tanker but decided to stick with the 767, of which simplified versions were purchased by Italy and Japan. The A330-MRTT is in service now, complete with both drogue and boom refuelling methods (Wikipedia shows an RAAF offloading fuel through a boom).

          • But USAF seems unclear, its RFI sounds somewhat open.

            USAF refers to the KC-46A for at least guidance as to many attributes they want, but that may be because they were developed relatively recently and are now being ‘field tested’ by real operations,

            The KC-10 is 1980 vintage (basic airframe several years earlier), the KC-135 roughly two decades earlier but 300 have newer engines.

            (Side note: flexibility of fuel transfer method is being introduced in the world of tankers, some US military services and Allies use drogues, USAF has at least tested them on centreline in place of boom not just on the wings.)

        • Perhaps USAF has electronic eavesdropping in mind, it has sophisticated equipment aloft such as on Rivet Joint 707 style platform. Super radar would be nice to but antenna fairing is drag and weight.

    • Big balloons are for heavy freight in and out of locations without long runways or good roads.

      Seriously considered for mines in Alaska and Quebec/Labrador, but the projects have not gotten far.

      There are technical challenges including winds and variable loading.

    • ‘OV-099’, the USAF RFI seems vague to me – I do not take it as a specification.

      Some paragraphs sound as though there is a baseline with the questions asking how much capability beyond that is offered.

      One needs to study the whole thing, I have not.

  12. @Buy American

    This – following link – is not what was intended by Biden’s Buy A policy, but is an example of the current state of thinking in the DoD of what America has bought and has for sale as ‘purely’ American; does away with hardware, which they acknowledge they can not get to work, tries to fill the void with a software patch

    Once again curiously reminiscent of BA and it’s falling sky planes

    “During his last visit to Kabul, in May, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin raised the possibility of helping the Afghans maintain their air force — from afar — through an approach he called “over the horizon” logistics.

    That vague concept implied the use of virtual training sessions with video conferencing on the Zoom platform — an approach that seems illusory given the need for the Afghans to have computers or smartphones with well-functioning Wi-Fi connections.

      • @Pedro

        Right – most of the money spent ‘in/on Afghanistan’ is/was recycled back into the States –

        The DoD don’t care if the warcarts don’t fly as long as the money does

        The money which stays in Afgh, or used to, was shared between the people who really controlled the country, the Taliban, and a few corrupt puppets – this too part of the plan – one has to have a convincing enemy if one is to justify the trillions to ‘eradicate ‘ such

        In this sense the failed KFC and F35 programs without end are self sustaining, a closed loop, a vicious circle

    • It is remarkable that the US armed forces are willing to purchase sub-standard, non-functioning products for themselves (KC-46, F35) but seemingly have no trepidations about allowing massive quantities of modern armaments to fall into the hands of their enemies…including attack aircraft. And while Rome burns, the USAF will get mired down in an another extended bidding circus for a new bridge tanker, even though the outcome (orchestrated victory for the runt of the contest) is probably a foregone conclusion.

      • @Bryce

        The buying of non functioning warcarts and the abandoning of arms are part of the same program : the bug is the feature

        The vicious cycle of the DoD complex is designed, much like BA is designed, to return cash to the corporations

        Not efficiently and effectively to create engineer and utilise machines

        The paradigm is endless cash flow : hence forever wars and forever in need of repair no-go war carts

        Such are the same reasons why only BA can win these contracts, because only BA and the other US GMs can efficiently operate this corrupt paradigm

        Other countries, even very small other countries, can easily defeat these practices

        Quote from the CNN article « While the Taliban can certainly make immediate use of US-made small arms and armored vehicles, officials are skeptical they can turn American aircraft into a viable fighting unit. »

        Americans can not turn American aircraft into a viable fighting unit is the more accurate statement, how many aircraft did the guerrillas need to shoo the US out of their country ?

      • “As justification for some policies and spending that are clearly wasteful, policymakers – both in Congress and the executive branch – often cite a need to build and maintain America’s defense industrial base (DIB). Put simply, this argument assumes some products and materials are too vital to our national defense to trust foreign sources because a future conflict could potentially make such sources unavailable. Therefore, in order to preserve domestic sourcing and capacity for many items deemed essential, the federal government must take steps to prop up and shield American suppliers from foreign competition. Though it is not often explicitly stated, this reasoning inherently presupposes that any increased costs and declines in quality of goods that typically result from reduced competition are acceptable.”

        • @Pedro
          This is correct – yet such considerations did not inhibit these very same from off shoring all possible essential industries, and fossilising in efficiency in the defense sector by mergering, Clinton ownwards, from numerous (sorry too lazy to double check the number) down to the very few corps, 5, left today

          Soaring prices and guaranteed in efficiency is the desired result

          If more money can be made by here and there specific on shoring subsidies (semi conductors, rare earths) the industrial base can not be re imported or re invented – so that the structural military, industrial & social failures will persist

          Capital has no country – these are all people with Ground Zero passes to NZ panick villas

    • What a three star general wrote for NYT:

      “The Afghan forces were trained by the Americans using the U.S. military model based on highly technical special reconnaissance units, helicopters and airstrikes. We lost our superiority to the Taliban when our air support dried up and our ammunition ran out.

      Contractors maintained our bombers and our attack and transport aircraft throughout the war. By July, most of the 17,000 support contractors had left. A technical issue now meant that aircraft — a Black Hawk helicopter, a C-130 transport, a surveillance drone — would be grounded.

      The contractors also took proprietary software and weapons systems with them. They physically removed our helicopter missile-defense system. Access to the software that we relied on to track our vehicles, weapons and personnel also disappeared. Real-time intelligence on targets went out the window, too. […]

      And since we could not resupply bases without helicopter support, soldiers often lacked the necessary tools to fight. The Taliban overran many bases; in other places, entire units surrendered.”

      They basically got the rug pulled out from under.

      • @Pedro: This is off topic. Others: Watch it, don’t go there.


    • “…the possibility of helping the Afghans maintain their air force — from afar — through an approach he called “over the horizon” logistics.:

      You mean ‘throw parts over the fence’, today to the Taliban to help them persecute residents?

      The country is back into stone age mysticism. Ed Locke things it never had a chance – Even if total surrender had been achieved, which John David Lewis chronicles for WWII and some earlier ones in his book Nothing Less Than Victory.

  13. I am sure the USAF will again be allowed to buy any tanker as long as it is Boeing’s.

    • And France, Germany, UK and Spain will buy any tanker as long as its an A330MRT.

      And the UK has not booms.

      • The difference being that the A330MRRT is a functioning, cutting-edge tanker, whereas the KC-46 is a dysfunctional failure.

  14. Lots of future business coming for Airbus:
    “Wizz Air Wants To Hire 800 Cabin Crew And Increase Fleet By 500 Planes”

    “The airline says it is expecting to triple the size of its fleet over the next decade, adding 500 more Airbus aircraft in the next 10 years. As such, it will be seeking to recruit not only hundreds of cabin crew but also new pilots and other crew members to support this growth.”

    WizzAir’s A321s carry 20% more passengers than Ryanair’s MAX 8200s…

    • @Bryce

      Do you not think that grandiose announcements like these are cartooney O’Leary style betcha 30,000 flights a day by Xmas matey

      Intl and domestic airtravel is very depressed, looks set for some long while, thanks to the foolish confusions attending travel ‘protocols’, and continuing failure to contain the current crisis, at national level, and complete failure at international co ordination

      Here are some links : even countries such as Singapore, the most perfectly matched as to size degree of gvmt control and efficiency together with the necessary open for business status of the offshore fortress, are hesitant to a fault

      • @ Gerrard
        Yes and no.
        Longhaul / intercontinental travel is in a very bad state, and will be for some time to come.
        However, domestic/regional travel is in a much better state, and that’s the segment in which Wizz operates. Europe provides Wizz with a very adequate revenue base. And LCCs like Wizz keep winning ground from legacy carriers.
        But, of course, everything depends on the extent to which the current crisis keeps morphing.

        • @Bryce

          Well….more no than yes, no ? – I couldn’t find any figures for intra EU airtravel, but is this not ‘sharply’ down ?

          Please note that US dom air-t has feebled recently, and some predict a disastrous fall – EU ditto?

          Do you know what are current levels as say a percentage of 2019

          The EU travel ‘pass’, wasn’t that a thing once – now not so much – sorry to use bureautrash language but one must avoid certain sensitive words

          Quite apart from the instability uncertainty and added costs, tests quarantines etc – I understand one can pay a fortune for tests : before travel on arrival before return, after…and so on

          Plus – prices will soar once they get around to biting the bullet – as Scotty in Aus has started – The Thing has won, but here’s what you are going to have to do…. segue into CC the other airtravel gremlin : increased taxation, take the train, flt shaming, and so on

          • @ Gerrard
            Intra-EU air traffic is currently at about 60% of its pre-pandemic levels…though that will, of course, decrease again if/when the expected fall/winter “bug resurgence” comes.
            Nevertheless, there’s a growth opportunity for LCCs — particularly over a longer timespan of 10 years — because:
            (1) They out-compete legacy carriers, several of which are now financially crippled.
            (2) Pent-up travel demand, coupled with lack of longhaul, means that more people want to travel intra-EU.

            But I certainly get your point. We’re not out of the woods yet, and the slightest hiccup can potentially greatly upset the apple cart.

          • @Bryce

            You are right– the national airlines which so massively have been bailed out have been outperformed for some time by LCC’s

            Yet they are flag carriers, and gvmts have a lot more than money invested–

            Wanting to travel, yes : but it is beginning to percolate through to the MSM that travel is perhaps the root cause of the current crisis, and mass ex country tourism & travel an inherently unstable and destructive industry extremely vulnerable to negative externalities


            Everyone hates the gringo – now they know why

    • There were two other instances with Boeing freighters. An emerging pattern??

    • …and 111 of those are/were for China, including 9 recents.
      Still, if China doesn’t end up taking them soon, then that new Indian LCC will probably take them for firesale prices.

      • @Bryce:

        1) Remember the report that India is set to clear the B737 MAX *within days*? Insider leak??

        2) I do not see the MAX to be certified to fly in China before year end. We’ll see how good Calhoun’s forecast is.

      • @Bryce
        Boeing cant just sell those 111 aircraft to Indian carriers. The Chinese airlines has not walked away from their commitment. It is boeing’s job to convince the China’s authorities with safety and performance data and get the max certify, not push the airlines to lobby for certification.
        Also, although the A321neo seats 20% more than the B737max-8200, you also require 5 crew instead of 4 to service the cabin. That is also 20% more cabin crew needed to operate the A321neo.

        • Not sure other airlines are interested in those aircarts. No American airlines order them, no order from Chinese airlines.

          • @ Pedro
            Alaska is getting an aircart that Samoa cancelled, so there’s a little bit of re-shuffling here and there.
            Also, a Canadian lessor took a small number of MAX whitetails a few months ago.

            Small change, but better than nothing.

          • Hi Bryce,

            My reply was more about Vince’s comment of B737 MAX 8200 vs. A321.

          • @ Pedro
            Your versatile comment is applicable in many ways 😉
            – Indeed zero interest in -8200 aircarts, apart from Ryanair. And even O’Leary is getting the message that he’s going to be out-competed at slot-restricted airports by competitors using larger NBs…hence his (rather late) interest in the MAX-10.
            – As you’ve pointed out, the backlog of “parking lot” MAXs is only shrinking at a trickle. Logical, since whitetails have to be internally re-configured before someone else will take them. And, of course, you have to match the type (-7,-8,-9) to the new customer: for example, Alaska is not taking -7s, Southwest isn’t taking -9s, and Ryanair isn’t taking any of the conventional models.
            – Not sure why Vince suddenly brought in the A321: although an A321 operator needs an extra flight attendant relative to an -8200, he also gets 40 more passengers for that extra attendant…and those extra 40 passengers are flown using the same two pilots, and using the same airport slot.

          • Pedro
            August 24, 2021

            Not sure other airlines are interested in those aircarts. No American airlines order them, no order from Chinese airlines.”

            What are you talking about?

            If 737MAX, I thought Alaska and Southwest ordered more this year.

  15. Strange. Under Trump this was called parochial protectionism.

    US sanctions has caused Russia to implement a similar strategy they call Import substitution. To-wit: the SSJ NEW, envisages the development of an aircraft in which dozens of foreign systems and components will be replaced with domestic ones.

    It has been a major stimulus to the industry producing new, innovative products many of which undercut their western counterparts in price and exceed their capabilities.

    • Yes, indeed.
      Sanctioning a technological competent party only forces that party to be come more innovative and independent…a lesson that the US is also going to learn in the case of China.

  16. The U.S. Air Force is set to reopen a bidding war between Boeing and archrival Airbus over the replacement of its aging fleet of refueling aircraft essential to Washington’s ability to project power beyond its borders.

    In a tortuous and scandal-riven procurement process, during which two contracts were scrapped, Boeing finally snagged a $35-billion deal in 2011 to develop and supply 179 KC-46 refuelers by 2029.

    Even though the project was plagued by cost overruns and delays, Boeing looked set to walk away with the next phase of the project to replace the Air Force’s fleet – without which a large proportion of its capacity would be grounded.

    But the Pentagon changed its plans.

    The U.S. Air Force in mid-June put out a so-called source sought notice for the supply of between 140 and 160 aircraft at the rate of 12 to 15 a year from 2029 to replace the rest of the fleet until a new model of tanker is developed.

    It set up yet another competition between Airbus, with its A330 MRTT that it sells to around 10 countries, and Boeing with its KC-46 Pegasus, derived from the B767 and exported to Japan and Israel.

    “Even if we have some scars from previous campaigns, we will obviously see this with a lot of interest and try to come up with a competitive offer,” Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury told the Agence France-Presse (AFP).

    If Airbus wins the bidding contest, “the program will be greatly Americanized,” Faury said, as U.S. law requires the procurement of goods produced in the U.S.

    But even with a production unit in Mobile, Alabama, which Airbus was planning to use a decade ago, “it would be really good news for production levels and the whole supply chain” made up of several European suppliers if the European aeronautics giant comes out on top, he said.

  17. William, demand for an A380 freighter would depend on volume of freight demand on long range routes and economics of the airframe for the role.

    Do you have data on volume today, which has been increasing?

    Airbus’ willingness to support the airframe is a question.

    As for loading the upper deck, that’s a terminal structures question, I expect doable but at a cost. How is less dense payload put on and off the A380 today? (Passengers)

    • Would it not be possible to load via the lower floor and have an internal lift to move pallets to the upper floor? That way it could be handled by existing infrastructure,

  18. On the subject of “Buy American”, CNBC reports this morning that:
    “The U.S. is reviewing its trade policy with China, says USTR Katherine Tai”

    Not sure whether this is supposed to sound like a threat to the Chinese, or is intended as an olive branch.

    Plenty of motive for the Chinese to drag their feet regarding MAX re-cert until they see which way the coffee is brewing.

  19. Qantas expects its nonstop Australia to London flights to be “in even higher demand post-COVID”.

    Qantas is looking at using Darwin (DRW) for nonstop flights to London, either complementing or substituting for Perth “given conservative border policies in Western Australia”.

    Qantas plans to return five A380s to service earlier than thought, possibly by mid-2022 for LAX and LHR (via SIN).

  20. Flexible cargo=pax conversion was standard practice on B727C and B737C,

    The QC versions had seats on pallets, but that cost weight.

    Pacific Western got organized to quickly shift mix of cargo-pax, in those airplanes, without penalty of QC, to suit pax demand into the High Arctic. People in Edmonton organized a box van with helves/hooks/etc., much labour as seats had to be slid into floor tracks and locked in position.

    Fedex tried dual use with QC floor, did not work out well (but I don’t know how much of that was awkwardness and day utilizations versus marketing)..

  21. Leon, you just prove my point about pontificators not considering all factors.

    Freight is not only about weight, it is stated in this thread and well known that traditional package express is voluminous.

    Range matters to freighters because intermediate stops and trans-shipping are costly.

    Many variations in the wide world out there.

    • Keith,

      foolish to think that range matters. Then freighters would not have reduced MTOW, which means less fuel.
      Instead, for freighters payload is increased. If more range is needed, less freight can be carried, which is expensive.

      If range would be important, Airbus would have offered an 251t A330-800F long time ago, or would have offered the existing A330-200F with 242t too instead of 230t and 233t, but that made obviously less sense.

      Recently there were A330-300P2F conversions ordered because of more freight volume. These A330-300 will have even less range than the A330-200. That’s why Airbus offered the A330-200 with 139000L fuel and the A330-300 only with 97000L fuel from the start. These A330-300P2F will all need more stops.
      Each stop takes time, but time is not important because for freighters turn around times are not important.

  22. From FlightGlobal:
    Air NZ: “we are now set to have an all 787 fleet for our long haul business by 2027. Not only do these aircraft represent the best in currently available technology”.

    Made me laugh. I would not be surprised if Air NZ will cancel some of its 787 orders in the future 🙂

  23. More for edification of pontificators:

    The C-141 airlifter was stretched because military cargo was often limited by volume not weight carrying capacity.

    For those who assumed there was not civilian certification of military transport type aircraft, read aviation history – both the Shorts Belfast and Lockheed C-141 were designed with civilian certification in mind. (The C-130 was later civilly certified for freight, noteworthy operators included Pacific Western and Saturn. But it was not suitable for pax to civilian rules.)

    And for Airbus groupies, I note that Shorts and Lockheed discussed making a Frankenplane by using the C-141s wing and turbofan engines on the larger diameter fuselage of the Belfast. Was not produced, eventually the US military purchased the Douglas C-17 to get a larger diameter.

    (With the nose off DC-10 design, with very good window arrangement later copied by Boing for the B757 and B767.)

  24. Here’s a photo of what I believe to be an A330MRTT operated by Singapore: (I take the engine cowling to be long-duct – mixed-exhaust – which R-R has favoured in the past for long-range flights and uses with the Trent 700 on the A330.)

    Singapore is offering use of that aircraft to evacuate people from Kabul. Seems to me more suitable than airliners as I expect it has missile warning systems and perhaps flare dropping capability. US C-17s have made about 1,000 flights out of Kabul, Allies perhaps several dozen more, plus there were civilian airliners.

    One video shows a C-17 dropping flares during initial climb, the sky is being patrolled by fighters and by helicopters including gunships. Hopefully surveillance airplanes or drones can fly top cover to detect suspicious activity – I understand that some of the radars have resolution high enough identify ground vehicles.

  25. Leon pontificated that Boeing always goes with small wings.

    Certainly NOT with the B767 airplane.

    Granted, it was built to carry far more weight, as an intercontinental trijet, even had flight deck controls labelled L and R rather than numbers, so C could be slid in between.

    The B767 did not need to be expanded to three engines, as ETOPS procedures allowing flying further from a land airport became accepted.

    (And it quickly switched to two pilot flight deck as that became acceptable for large airplanes. I don’t recall why the big unions accepted that, I do remember Boeing quietly working with a progressive-thinking US major and a sharp furrin regional/charter operator to design a two-pilot flight deck to be ready to switch. Some B767s were built with the third flight deck, at least one overseas airline flew theirs for a while but other customers put theirs into modification.

    In contrast, Airbus built an airliner with a small wing – the A310, which used the A300’s fuselage but shortened. Airbus did not need a wing to carry stretches as it had the A300. Early performance of the A310 suggested to me that its airfield performance was not as good as the competing B767. Hey Eurosnobs – there is a case of Airbus following after Boeing, and a case of shrinking a design. (Yah, Boeing did that to 707 fuselage length to make the 727 then the 737.)

    • And Boeing lightened the 707-120 to make the 720 for shorter routes, before it made the 727. A low cost approach.

      I was impressed with the 747SP concept, shorter body and simpler flaps to get longer range. But only 45 made.

      the trijets had a good run, beginning with the Trident and ending with the under-recognized L-1011. But Airbus showed the way to big twins for routes not crossing oceanic/remote areas.

      Many variations possible, not all found a good market.

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