Pontifications: Rerunning the KC-X campaign as Technically Acceptable, Lowest Price process

Part 5 in a Series: the Boeing perspective in the last KC-X campaign

Feb. 14, 2022, © Leeham News: After the Government Accountability Office (GAO) upheld Boeing’s protest over the US Air Force contract award to Northrop Grumman-EADS, the parties regrouped to consider whether or how to compete for the KC-X contract again.

By Scott Hamilton

Boeing was discouraged after the Northrop win. According to press reports at the time, US Rep. Norm Dicks, a Democrat from Bremerton (WA) since retired, encouraged Boeing to make another bid. The US Air Force recast the new procurement to a pass-fail process on the requirements, emphasizing the price. The process was known as Technically Acceptable, Lowest Price, or TALP. Northrop decided to drop out. EADS, despite concluding the odds were long that it could win, went ahead.

In September 2009, the Air Force began the new procurement process. The same month, Jim Albaugh moved from Boeing’s defense unit, where he had been president and CEO, to Boeing Commercial Airplanes, in the same position. Although no longer involved day-to-day in the KC-X campaign, Albaugh nevertheless was in a good position to recall how Boeing approached this round.

Responding to requirements

As in the previous round, the public and political campaign focused on allegations that Airbus benefitted from illegal subsidies. There was a parallel case before the World Trade Center in which the US and European Union traded complaints that Airbus and Boeing each improperly benefitted from government support.

Jim Albaugh. Boeing photo.

Boeing and its partisans also claimed Airbus, the EADS subsidiary, didn’t know how to build a tanker, while Boeing was the expert. Airbus and its partisans pointed out that the last tanker Boeing delivered, the KC-135, was in 1965. McDonnell Douglas delivered the last KC-10 tanker in 1988, nine years before Boeing and MDC merged.

Albaugh, who spent most of his career in the defense industry, was dismissive of the public and political campaigns.

“I spent a lot of time responding to government RFPs and the only thing that really matters is how you’ve addressed the requirements of your customer,” he said in an interview with LNA last month. “Then they grade your paper and then make a selection. There probably was a lot of stuff in the press and a lot of public relations out there, but I think that, in my mind, is always irrelevant to a competition. The relevant part is how they score your paper. Does it score higher than competitors based on the requirements laid out in the RFP?”

 Evaluations by the Air Force in the Boeing-Northrop round also included a risk assessment. Boeing was scored down because the KC-767 International tanker program for Japan and Italy was troubled.

“I know there were issues,” Albaugh said. “I can’t really tell you the details of it. We had trouble with the vision system. There were some flutter issues with the drogue and its ability to be stable. Eventually, all those were worked out. There’s risk in every new program, but to the extent that Boeing had done a couple of programs already and Airbus to a large degree had not, to me, that should have de-risked the program. Obviously, because of the issues that they had on the KC-767, there was risk involved and probably more risk than anybody anticipated.”

Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ involvement

By the time the Boeing-EADS campaign got underway, Albaugh was at BCA. The interaction with the Pentagon and the public and political relations didn’t really involve BCA. Albaugh’s BCA, however, worked the supply chain. BCA, of course, assembles the 767. The airplane is rolled out of the Everett factory and across the airport to the Everett Modification Center, where it is militarized.

“We were very involved in working with the supply chain, working efficiencies in the factory to try to get the price of the green airplane down. That helped us with the tanker and also helped us with the 767s that we were building for FedEx at the time. We scrubbed the 767 green airplane costs very, very hard,” Albaugh said.

Dicks, the now-retired Congressman, urged Boeing to bid aggressively under the Pentagon’s TALP process. When the bids were opened in early 2011, Boeing underbid Airbus by about 10%–a figure that stunned pretty much everybody, especially EADS. Boeing since wrote off about $5bn on the fixed-price contract, leading many to believe Boeing low-balled the bid. But Albaugh looks at it differently.

“I don’t think we lowballed the bid,” he said. “Sure, we won the contract. I think we put in an aggressive bid. I was never involved in any proposal where we purposely bid it to win knowing that we would lose money.”

One element of the procurement was the long-term services contract. This is often where the OEM makes the most money.

“It’s always important,” Albaugh said. “When you look looking at the revenue stream we’re going to get, it’s the price of the airplanes and it’s also the lifecycle of the airplane. All that factored in.”

Preparing for the KC-Y campaign

The Pentagon issued a Request for Information last year. The Request for Proposals will be issued this year. The final part of this series from the Boeing perspective includes thoughts from Albaugh about what comes next.

43 Comments on “Pontifications: Rerunning the KC-X campaign as Technically Acceptable, Lowest Price process

  1. Part of “scrubbing the green airplane very very hard” was the implementation of “Paddle Fittings” into the fuselage join process, This was a huge change in the method used to make the fuselage section join together. In the past, thousands of small finger splices were located, shimmed, trimmed and drilled by hand at each stringer location, all of them were then removed, deburred, sealed, reassembled and fastened. Assembly errors and poorly hand drilled holes drove significant rework on every airplane. All these small sheet metal parts were replaced by machined fittings designed to eliminate assembly variability. The parts cost was roughly the same, but the labor and flow time savings were huge. The new process allowed the parts to be sealed, then drilled and fastened. The new tooling was revolutionary in that it used high clamping force automatic drills to drill burr free holes through the wet sealed parts without creating burrs. This saved all the disassembly, hand deburring of thousands of little bits and the sealing and reassembly that was the old process. It also dramatically improved the skin quality of the airplane and at one point the 767 line went many months without a skin replacement due to drilling errors. This shrank the assembly flow time on the airplane by a number of days. It became the new standard of assembly for all 767s that followed.

    • I have difficulty understanding the (recurring over all types) issues with proper calibration of the fuselage circumference.

      You don’t find those issues elsewhere.

      • Uwe….
        Respectfully, there has never been any issue at all with the joining of any of the metallic fuselages with respect to circumference. They are built in a completely different manner than the 787. The multiple fuselage panel assemblies are joined together in an assembly jig that uses large machined “end gates” that are coincident with the fuse panel IML. This fixturing means that all fuselage barrel segments have the identical and more importantly REPEATABLE dimensions with all the material thickness tolerances driven to the OML side of the parts when all the stringer splices, finger joints and shims are installed. The process on the 767 got even more robust with the use of Paddle Fittings which reduced part count and further reduced tolerance buildup. Im not sure what leads you to believe that metallic structures are suffering “circumferential inaccuracies”, but they dont. Would you be so kind as to let me know why you think that, Im very curious. Now if we want to discuss Tupperware Airplane circumferential inaccuracies, we need to find a better person than I. I
        stayed in metallic structures because there was enough work to get me to retirement and I didn’t see the value to me in learning everything over from scratch……..

        • 777 had issues resulting in the use of some hydraulic press to fit fuse sections.
          Though completely different tech the 787 came up with about the same issues.
          Now I could read here about similar issues on the 767.
          The 747-8 needed so much shim material that it had an impact on empty weight.

          • Scott C:

            Very much appreciate the in depth tech aspects. It separates out the spin (Green Scrub, phew) to what actually happened and substance.

            My vision of the 777 is an industrial trash compactor where you put the whole thing in between bit slabs and try to crush it.

            Sadly, when I toured the factory that was all gone.

          • Uwe,
            You have it backwards. The End Gates are hydraulically movable components of the Fuselage FAJ. They are retracted to provide crane clearance to remove the barrel segments vertically from the tool with the overhead cranes after they are fastened. Occasionally, when a weather front moves in, the skins will cool off faster than the 1 inch aluminum plate end gates. This means the barrel assemblies would shrink fit onto the tool and be too tight when you retract the end gates. Heat lamps gently warm up the skins and all is well now, and has been for decades. Same on the 767, the CTE of the tool parts and production Item are a bit different due to the dissimilar thermal masses involved, so when the ambient temp moves around, the snugness of the end gate to skin panel interface changes. A bit of localized warming with heat lamps and everything frees up. This is such old news Im suprised it is even an issue. The shimming of the 747-8 happens everywhere as it is a conventionally assembled metallic structure, but Ive not heard the shim weight was ever problematic……. At least not in the mid fuse structures area………

          • Scott C:

            As near as I can tell everything is an issue with Uwe. Or maybe more accurately anything to do with the US.

          • “777 strong interference fit”
            This came up as ancillary information when the 787 sections did not match ahead of the fake roll out.

            I’ve tried to re-find that info but any web search is saturated with more recent snippets.

            ( I’ve seen A320, A330 segment build and join : there are no large tools to force circumference fit involved 🙂

            it might be advisable to ignore some jingoistic commentary from the sidelines..

          • Uwe:

            As near as I can tell everything is an issue with TW. Or maybe more accurately anything to do with the EU.

          • Uwe
            “777 strong interference fit”
            This came up as ancillary information when the 787 sections did not match ahead of the fake roll out.

            Whoever or whatever you are quoting is not correct with any reference to the Metallic Aircraft assembly process in Everett. The 737 is different as the entire fuselage is a purchased assy from Spirit. Since its pretty clear you dont know which side of the toast should be buttered, Here’s an expansion of the previous note. The 777 and 767 process’s are identical in concept, with a few model specific differences, but they dont change the message here. The 747 is mostly the same except for the non cylindrical fwd fuselage where it is joined differently, but nowhere using a telescoping production joint. So recapping the process……

            The end gates are indexed into position
            The skins panels which all have TOA, are loaded into the tool.
            The skin lap joints are sealed and riveted together, shot wet.
            The floor beams, stanchions, seat tracks, tombstone fittings and all the other early structures gets installed. THEN the fuselage segment is trimmed to length with track mounted automatic saws and the fuselage lift fittings are tool located and attached. The end gates roll back and the section flys away under the crane.

            In the next tool. Adjacent fuselage sections index into the tool using the lift fittings to positively locate them. The adjacent sections maintain the production gap of .125 to .187 The splice plates are then installed on the IML skin surfaces. These are drilled up and clecoed. Next come the stringer splices that are slip fit into the inside of the stringer hat sections connecting the stringers in each barrel to the next, They are about 20 inches long as the stringers on the skin panels do not go to the end of the barrel. The last 8 or so rivets on each stringer are not yet installed to the skin so they can move around a bit to best fit the splice locations. All that gets drilled up as well as the skin penetrations. All this gets deburred, sealed and fastened, and the ever increasingly big piece flys out of the tools to go to the next location.
            Note that there is no place here where a fuselage section on a metallic airplane slides into the next airplane bit. In fact, all the designed production gaps make it absolutely impossible.

            If you understand what you are seeing, heres the rest of the story


            Lets try to stick to the real world truth instead of parroting incorrect data often enough that it becomes the Internet Reality

            Have a great day

          • Scott C, nice lesson on sucking eggs. a bit late though.
            I haven’t been active in aircraft manufacture. (Though it is a wide and giving domain of interest.)
            But I have some juicy bits flying in space. 🙂

          • Uwe.
            2 questions….
            If you haven’t been active in Aircraft Manufacturing, why do you flip me craap about what I write, when I did Transport Category aircraft primary structures for a living.
            And more to the point, Why do you take the position that repeating heresay is a perfectly aceptable level of truth for you, but you give subject matter experts a very dismissive treatment when their chapter and verse on a subject doesn’t mirror yours. Wouldnt a simple thank you for clarifying things be a more intellectually honest position for gentlemen to take?

          • @Scott C:
            sorry to step on your toes.

            What you describe is part of a formal academic engineering education. ( at least here in Germany.)
            ( then I had qualified my information as hear say )

            not directed at you but a lot of “know it all, done it all my life” is produced by “shopfloor life” here.

  2. The KC-Y competition may take on an interesting twist in view of last week’s announcement that the USAF is also looking for a replacement for its (31) 707-based E-3 Sentry AEWC (AWACS) aircraft (see first link).

    Although Airbus currently doesn’t offer an A330 with AEWC capability, it would be a relatively easy development; for example, the Indian Air Force currently plans to add its own AEWC capability to a pair of A330s, and Airbus already provides an AEWC version of the C295. Adding AEWC capability to the A330 MRTT would make it even more versatile.

    Boeing already has a 767-based AEWC aircraft (4 of them delivered to the Japanese Air Force) — see second link.



    • it certainly appears at the moment that the existing E-7A may be sole sourced (with US specific comms and EW systems).

      there is no other “in current production” large western AWACS type aircraft, They are currently flying at Red Flag in order to gather apples to apples data to compare to the (also flying) E-3Ds.

      I don’t think the USAF has any appetite for a developmental system.

      • The USAF has already indicated that it doesn’t consider the E-7A to be a replacement for the E-3.

        I think LM could make quite a case out of a modified A330. After all, if it wins the KC-Y contract, the A330 will be kitted out anyway to USAF spec as regards EMP, etc; relatively easy matter to extend that process to include AEWC functionality in some frames.
        The ongoing KC-46 fiasco suggests that BA will make a mess of a 767-based offering.

        • At the conference last week of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, a defense expert said the USAF specifications essentially identify the 737-based Wedgetail as the replacement for the E3.

          • @ Scott and @AP
            My original statement above inadvertently omitted the word “necessarily”, i.e. “The USAF has already indicated that it doesn’t *necessarily* consider the E-7A to be a replacement for the E-3.”

            From the sources I’m reading (including the first link that I posted above), although the USAF had *originally* considered using the 737-based wedgetail as a replacement, it *now* seems to have clawed back on that stance. For example (from the link below):

            “But a big question remains: Will the Air Force choose to sole source Boeing’s E-7 Wedgetail — an aircraft that has garnered support from top service leaders such as Air Combat Command head Gen. Mark Kelly and Air Force Pacific Command head Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach — or does the new solicitation signal a more open competition for the aircraft?

            The RFI provides little information about how the Air Force could structure a new program, if it chooses to pursue one.

            Instead, the services calls on companies to submit information on proposed E-3 replacement aircraft, including on key systems such as: its advanced air moving target indication radar, battle management command and control (BMC2) system, self-defense capabilities and key communications systems like Link 16 and Mobile User Objective System.”


          • -It would be insane to order anything else other than the E7 given the urgency that is developing.
            -Insane does happen in tenders.
            -The E7 Wedgetail seems extremely capable, is fully debugged and is affordable. The 3500nmi range is less than the E7. Although it would require more frequent tankering to get to a distant operational zone the overall fuel tankering required will be less due to the much lower fuel burn. RAAF Wedgetails undertake 13 to 17 hour ops.

          • @William
            Seeing as the USAF tends to be stuck with its purchases for decades, the top brass is probably looking around to see if someone can provide a more capable offering before committing.
            For example, when looking at their recent tanker acquisition, their own “choice” is struggling to acquire basic RVS functionality over the next 4 years (and at the USAF’s expense), whereas the competitor already has this AND also has autonomous refueling functionality…in a more versatile airframe with greater fuel capacity.
            In view of the “Pacific panic” that is now becoming more manifest on a daily basis, there’s no harm in first shopping around for alternatives.

          • @Bryce, the E7A Wedgetail is essentially zero risk. The RAAF are operating them, the RAF have ordered them, the USAF are already familiar with operating the E7A and have actually been involved in training the RAAF in certain aspects of the aircraft, I assume the Avionics and AWACS procedures
            -The weakness of the aircraft, its range of 3500nmi, is compensated by its frugal fuel consumption. A E7A can be refuelled fully by a A330 MRTT or KC46 Pegasus. In other words it needs additional hook-ups but the fuel of load capacity required is small.
            -I suppose you could integrate the Northrop Grumman Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar used on the E7A into either the A330-LMXT or KC46. The range of the aircraft would be impressive but it would burn more fuel.

          • @ William
            You don’t need to sell it to me — it’s the USAF that apparently isn’t convinced, because it has taken the step of shopping around. After all, the basic Wedgetail design is (more than) 23 years old…

        • Hello Bryce,

          Re: “The USAF has already indicated that it doesn’t consider the E-7A to be a replacement for the E-3.”

          What is your source for this statement? Which Air Force official expressed this opinion? When?

          The sources cited in Wikipedia’s article on the Wedgetail seem to indicate that a sole source Wedgetail acquisition contract is being fast tracked. See below.

          “In February 2021 General Kenneth S. Wilsbach, the Commander of the United States Pacific Air Forces, proposed that the USAF rapidly acquire E-7s to replace the E-3s deployed to the Indo-Pacific region.[52] In April 2021, Aviation Week & Space Technology reported that Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, also voiced support for a near-term E-7 acquisition.[53] In October 2021, the USAF published a “Notice of Contract Action” stating its intent to award Boeing a sole-source contract to study the E-7 to determine if it can meet USAF configuration standards and mandates.[54][55]”


          • From a 10-21-21 Air Force Magazine Article entitled :”Air Force asks Boeing for E-7A Wedgetail Data for E-3 Sentry Replacement”.

            “Senior Air Force leaders, at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber conference in September, said they were looking favorably at replacing the E-3 with the Wedgetail, given its lower operating cost and non-developmental status. Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mark D. Kelly told reporters that to maintain “707-based” aircraft such as the E-3 is no longer feasible. Kelly said he anticipated no significant issues making the E-7 compatible with USAF needs, especially since it was designed and developed in the U.S.”

            “Gen. Kenneth S. Wislbach, current PACAF commander, noted that the Wedgetail is “a proven capability” and that he’s been impressed with its performance.

            Brown suggested that funding for the E-7 could show up in the fiscal 2023 budget; the Air Force did not release out-year budget plans with its 2022 budget, now before Congress. The Air Force has used new rapid acquisition authorities given by Congress in the last few years to jump-start various prototyping efforts, as well as the F-15EX procurement.”

            ““The Aircraft Rapid Prototyping Requirements Document [RPRD] has specifically called out the E-7A and it has been determined that this is a sole-source requirement,” the government said.”


          • @ AP
            In addition to my reply above to Scott, even back in October 2021 the USAF wasn’t officially ready to commit to using the Wedgetail as a replacement for the E-3:

            “US Air Force’s top general won’t commit to Wedgetail”

            “Brown added: “I don’t want to commit, I want to make sure just like I’m doing the study on our fighters, I want to actually look at what options do we have? And, and so it’d be premature for me to commit to the Wedgetail right now or a timeline.”


          • You have to love Bryce the the uniformed comments.

            Yep, just slap an Antennae on top of the A330MRT and wallah, you have an A330MRTAWACS! Talk about a Franken Plane.

            Lets see, weight, operators, different mission set. Me thinks you have the worlds worst of all possibilities aka dog.

            The 767 AWACS is a new air-frame using the old electronics and
            rotating antenna.

            Ergo, the limitation is the electronics being dated and ASEA Radar development since that you don’t need the rotating dome. The air-frame helps overall costs but the big mission issues are the failing electronics/antenna system and that is what drives the mission availability. You can work around the air frame upgrade (if needed) you can’t dated electronics failing at higher and higher rates.

            An ASEA antenna is dramatically better aerodynamics wise as well as no moving parts.

            Sweden has an identical if smaller version on a Saab 340 that has been transferred to a BBD (new air-frame and better performance)

            As with the P8, Airbus need not apply, the EU has not invested in either an E7 or a P8 and Boeing is leaps and bounds ahead in that area using a well supported NG air-frame.

            Germany went with the P8 because there was nothing available other than a French Vapor ware to transfer Antiquate electronics (aged and dated) onto an A320.

            The P-8 took the long end development of the updated P-3 and then added capbi8ality to it (aka Spiral Development). A model that works well.

            The P8 just keeps getting better and better.

          • Bryce:

            You failed to read where I told you the USAF changes its mind like the general change their socks, at least once a day.

            The USAF has backed themselves into a corner and the E7 is the only way out.

            There is a pie in the sky space based capability that is X years down the road (also keeping in mind certain unnamed countries now have anti -sat capability at leas into LEO.

            So you grab the best thing and even at 80% of what you want, you get a big improvement in the E8.

            New generals can say they did not cause the problem and shift.

          • @ TW
            Yes, how could the generals in the Pentagon possibly know what the USAF wants? President Biden will probably be ringing Alaska this week for more valuable input 😉
            In the meantime, the bored generals decided it would be fun to issue an RFI for the E-3…after all, they had nothing better to do.

            As recent tanker programs have shown, AB is somewhat better at modifying existing airframes than BA 😉 LM must also be looking at this with interest as a chance to potentially rob another cookie from BA. And some at the USAF probably think that ANYTHING is better than another botched BA commitment.

            In the meantime, do continue to provide the usual entertaining innuendo: its amusing to hear all those “repeat episodes” about the P-8, for example. While you’re at it, why not have another go at the A400M? Don’t forget that India recently ordered 56 C295s, rather than your pet C-130…there must have been bribery involved, right?

          • Taking this somewhat out of order:

            “Don’t forget that India recently ordered 56 C295s, rather than your pet C-130…there must have been bribery involved, right?”

            While I really like the C-130, its not a pet, its an aircraft. Clearly the C295 is not a competitor but another asset for lower weight missions. Equally clearly I think the US should have continue3d buying and using the C-27. That is a prime example of USAF big eyes and killing off what the Army needs (its political as the USAF does not want the Army to operate fixed wing aircraft and does everything in their power to keep it that way).
            I certainly hope the C295 got its contract on merit and while I am not particularly informed on it, it seems like a good aircraft as well. It has a very wide range of users.
            The C-27 would be more in line with the US as it was designed with the same engines and systems as the C-130. Sadly we have neither one (the USCG took over the C-27 and are putting them to excellent use though the C295 would probably suit that mission better, but the C-27 was free and does mesh in with the USCG C-130.

            “Yes, how could the generals in the Pentagon possibly know what the USAF wants? President Biden will probably be ringing Alaska this week for more valuable input 😉
            In the meantime, the bored generals decided it would be fun to issue an RFI for the E-3…after all, they had nothing better to do.”

            I am expect President Bidens call and will give him excellent advice (its what good engineers do and of course I am one) though he of course has the final say so.

            “As recent tanker programs have shown, AB is somewhat better at modifying existing airframes than BA 😉 LM must also be looking at this with interest as a chance to potentially rob another cookie from BA. And some at the USAF probably think that ANYTHING is better than another botched BA commitment.”

            Frankly I tend to agree with that. Though the issues with the KC-46A are not mostly not air-frame as they are the fiddly bits that make an actually tanker (vs a USAF spec one). I am more than a bit impressed with what Airbus has done, partiality in regards to the boom and vision system. They knocked that one out of the ballpark when Boeing bunted right to the pitcher. They have not had the FODD issue which is horribly pathetic.

            “In the meantime, do continue to provide the usual entertaining innuendo: its amusing to hear all those “repeat episodes” about the P-8, for example. While you’re at it, why not have another go at the A400M? ”

            Its not that Airbus could not do it, its the EU does not invest in defense and does not have those platforms to compete. Boeing took a gamble on the E7/ Wedgetail and it took some time to get it into operational service. The Atllantique is ancient. .

            I doubt that Airbus could compete with the P8 as its a hand off of the P-3 and long development of the suite on that (far more than a sub hunter). They could have done an A320 AWACs with an ASEA and that would make for a real apple to apples competition.

            Lack of commitment to the whole system that makes a military go. You can’t just pick a bit here and there, its a system from toilet paper to fighter jets.

          • @Transworld, Indian military purchases are often predicated by the desire to manufacture as much as possible locally to develop their own aerospace industry and keep costs down. The decision thus involves complexity of the design, willingness and ability of the OEM to license, develop etc.
            -India’s security concerns are close: on its borders to the NE and NW. It has internals disaster relief concerns. No need for a C130 or C17 carrying a tank. They can drive or rail there.

          • What could one learn from manufacturing C130?
            ( How they did bombers in WWII 🙂 ?
            china borrowed from the A320 for the NB product, not the 737.

          • @Uwe, 90% of the nations of the world couldn’t build a B-29 or a V2 if given 10 years. A C130 would be impressive.

          • William we are looking at those that have interest and “could”. Regularly amusing that folk that has borrowed significantly from elsewhere think that nobody else could go beyond neolithics but them.

            China is not @1910 levels. Mao has marched and today they manufacture self designed aircraft that don’t fall out of the sky. Assume they have mastered more than basic competence in aerospace design.

          • -I don’t underestimate China but they have problems in their quality control. A one party state always blames individuals. Power depends on ones nepotistic relationship to the party. They have a mentality of punish and fine in quality control and production progress. It’s really quite backward. I work closely with them.
            -The Chinese I am impressed with are the ones in Taiwan and Singapore. They proved their economic and technical competence decades before China and still outperform them. They only loosened their Marxist-Lenist_Maoist nonsense when Lee Kuan Yue (Singapore Prime minster) noted to Chairman Chau En Lai “Singapore is Rich, Taiwan is Rich, Hong Kong is Rich, Maybe the problem isn’t Chinese people”
            -Much of their technology was handed to them by Russians, East Germans and finally by joint ventures with VW, Hewlet Packard and IBM.
            -If China were run by Nationalist Taiwanese they would have been modern 30 years ago.

          • Uwe asked…. somewhat rhetorically

            What could one learn from manufacturing C130?
            ( How they did bombers in WWII 🙂 ?
            china borrowed from the A320 for the NB product, not the 737.

            The answer to that is simple. All the manufacturing specifications involved with the production of the vehicle. While just about anyone can be taught to nail the airplane together, the DOCUMENTED PROCESSES you teach them that defines the repeatable processes are virtually priceless.

            Lets look at drilling a simple round hole. Lets even simplify it to drilling a hole for installation of a mechanical fastener. You need to create a hole preparation manual that defines the characteristics of a hole. How round is round, how straight is straight, how perpendicular is perpendicular. What are the specific upper and lower diameter control limits for each diameter hole being drilled and link that material to the target fastener. You must define the different nominal hole diameters for clearance fit, transition fit and interference fit fasteners. You need to create drawings to specify each different drill you will use for each diameter and class of hole for each fastener. You need to call out the drill material, nominal diameter, upper and lower control limits for the drill, the drills twist rate and point geometry as well as the industrial standards defining them and the NIST approved inspection spec controlling their acceptance. You also need to answer the lubricant and speed and feed questions, do we drill wet or dry at what RPM and how fast is the cutter advanced into the hole. Thats all a good start, but now we need to consider flush fasteners, so we need to define the countersink angles, transition radii if any, cutter material, cutter geometry as well as concentricity and straightness of the cutter itself and produce drawings defining each different cutter we will use. We will need to make sure we have documented coverage for each different rivet, hilock, pull type rivet, structural bolt, machine screws and on and on needing a hole to be installed. After we define all of that for manually drilled holes in aluminum, we get to define it all over again for steel, stainless steel, carbon fiber, kevlar, acrylic and all the other materials we drill by hand. Then we get to define the regrind proccessing to sharpen them for re-use. But where do you buy the stuff? You have to generate a Qualified Procurement List for each drill you buy. Guess what, you get to at least double that workload by creating the same sort of data for automatic drilling machines. You need to have inspection criteria for checking that all these holes conform to the drawing and an MRB process for rework buy using first or second oversize holes, more drills to specify, buy, inspect and stock as well as the requirement to buy hole checking tools, which themselves need to have drawings and QPLs.

            Mind you, all of this data and spec generation was JUST FOR THE HOLES THEMSELVES.

            Think of the tens of thousands of specifications needed to cover each and every manufacturing process involved with the manufacture of your C-130. Thats what you learn from building one. This stuff isnt found on Amazon……

            When people wonder why the Chinese take so long certifying an airplane, remember that they are writing all of this from scratch, in Chinese, without having hundreds of western subject matter experts hanging around to do it. They are doing a great job when you know what the moving parts are behind the curtain…….

          • @ William
            As an aside: it’s amusing and ironic that you deride China’s QC in an article on a Boeing product — after all, the 737MAX, 787 and KC-46 have recently been (and/or still are) the subject of abominable QC failings.

            Other than that observation: once China embraced Capitalism, things in that country progressed at break-neck speed…far quicker than any country in “the west” could have achieved.
            The “gifted tech” argument is a bit stale — a rather convenient but stretched scapegoat to try to explain away why a competitor is so successful.

    • Saab was going to offer the A330 MRTT with an Erieye radar for the UK MOD tender but the competition was scrapped and its gone straight to the E7 Wedgetail. (Wedgetail is a very large Australian indigenous eagle).
      Certainly an MRTT with AWACS is extremely versatile.

  3. The case between EADS and Boeing was before the World Trade Organization , not the World Trade Center…

  4. “There was a parallel case before the World Trade *Center* in which the US and European Union traded complaints that Airbus and Boeing each improperly benefitted from government support.”


    • The solution was to accept the different instruments for “help” as equivalent ( bad, good, whatever. But draw down the opposite side with taking away “gifted money” . introduce the RLI instrument that turned giving financing up front into a rich returns spiel.)

      But the US noticed that their client was much less successful over time time than the EU client.
      Being simple minds this obviously must have been due to “better help”.
      Voila: start unending litigation circling perceived unfairness.

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