Pontifications: Airbus ponders A330neo MRTT, Boeing ponders KC-46A re-engine

By Scott Hamilton

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 28, 2023, © Leeham News: In a reversal of intent, the airplane that Airbus may submit to the US Air Force for the next round of aerial tanker procurement may be based on the A330neo instead of the current production A330-200ceo MRTT.

The Air Force, however, may forego competition between Airbus and Boeing and place a sole-source follow-on order with Boeing for the KC-46A tanker, based on the 767-200ER. Boeing already has a contract for 179 KC-46As, and the USAF appears to be leaning toward a sole-source award. Political pressure from Airbus partisans and others who favor competition may prevail.

Related articles

Airbus wants to discontinue production of the A330-200ceo-based MRTT. The neo-based version would be based on the A330-800. Sales of the -800 are poor—fewer than 20 have been ordered. An -800 based MRTT will breathe life into the nearly still-born model.

  • Boeing considers re-engining the 767-300ERF and the KC-46A.
  • KC-46A, 767-200, A330 MRTT exempt from 2027 ICAO standards.

Advantages for a neo MRTT

Airbus’ A330 program was launched in the early 1990s. While a full decade newer than the technology in the competing 767, the KC-46A—while based on the still-dominate technology of the 767-300ER—incorporates a glass cockpit, elements from the 767-400, and other modern-day technology.

The A330-200 MRTT uses old-technology GE CF6 engines. Boeing’s KC-46A uses old technology Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. The A330-800 has a modern wing and Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines. This engine is based on the Trent 1000 developed for the Boeing 787. The 7000 uses bleed air while the 1000 is an electrical-system engine.

Before Lockheed Martin Co. (LMCO) withdrew from its partnership to offer the MRTT to the USAF, Lockheed was the lead with the USAF. LMCO told LNA that the prospect of offering a neo-based MRTT was unlikely, as it would add years to the development time. LMCO subsequently announced that GE would once again provide the CF6 for submission to the USAF. It’s unclear whether LMCO will have a role as a contractor to Airbus in any submission.

An MRTT based on the neo will offer substantially better fuel economy than the ceo-based MRTT. During the competition between Airbus and Boeing resulting in the 2011 award to Boeing, the latter asserted the 767-200ER-based tanker had 26% lower operating and maintenance costs than the larger A330-based tanker. The Boeing tanker did indeed have an operating cost advantage, though not as wide as Boeing claimed.

Boeing considers re-engining the 767F and KC-46A

Boeing could re-engine the 767-300ER freighter and the KC-46A. There is no technical reason why the GEnx engine developed in competition with the Trent 1000 for the 787 couldn’t be installed on the airplanes. The larger-diameter GEnx vs the PW 4000 presents a “fit” issue under the wing, as was the case for the CFM LEAP engine for the Boeing 737 MAX vs the CFM56 installation on the preceding 737NG.

Unlike re-engining the 737, however, doing so on the 767 is easier (though not “easy”). The taller landing gear for the 767-400 and wing box could be installed on the 767-300ER and KC-46A, LNA is told. A GEnx-powered KC-46A would lower the fuel consumption and remain competitive with a Trent-powered A330neo MRTT. But the USAF would lose commonality with the PW4000. And, we’re told, the GEnx ideally should fit through the main-deck cargo door on the KC-46A to carry spare engines to the field, instead of requiring a Boeing C-17 to transport the engine.

LNA is told that the USAF has been asked about the prospect of a KC-46A re-engine, but so far remains cool to the idea.

Re-engining 767 not a new idea

Re-engining the 767 is not a new idea. Boeing studied the prospect multiple times previously and each time rejected it. But now, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2017 adopted emissions standards that take effect in 2027. Aircraft in production from 2028 must meet the standards, which must be adopted by individual governments to be effective. Production must cease on airplanes that don’t meet the standards. The 767-300ER doesn’t meet them. Turbofans and certain turbojets and Boeing 747-400s, 757s, 767-200s and 777s, McDonnell-Douglas MD-11s, and Canadair Regional Jets are exempt from the proposed regulations.

The 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation, including the technical standards in its annexes, does not apply to military operations. This means the KC-46A and A330-200 MRTT are unaffected by the new standards despite being based on civilian airliners.

The US is going through the process of adopting the standards. The 767-200ER is excluded from compliance, while the 767-300ER is not. With cargo carriers FedEx and UPS heavily reliant on the 767-300ERF, Boeing has three choices: apply for an exemption (which it has); cease production; or re-engine the airplane. FedEx and UPS currently have 767-300ERF orders with deliveries scheduled into 2025. FedEx has options for delivery into 2026.

FedEx likes the airplane and wants to see it continue production past 2027. Boeing has considered building 767 whitetails before production must cease and delivering them later to FedEx and UPS, assuming pre-agreements and orders or options. Boeing now has plenty of experience in building new airplanes and delivering them years later: consider the MAX, the 777X, and the 787.

A FedEx official is doubtful Congress will grant an exemption for the 767-300ERF to be built beyond 2027, given the current political environment.

Keeping costs low for KC-46A

Extending production of the freighter would help keep costs low for the tanker, FedEx Chairman Fred Smith told me in September 2022. The current orders for tankers extend into 2027. Letters of Intent to order show delivery dates of 2032. A follow-on order would go beyond that date.

259 Comments on “Pontifications: Airbus ponders A330neo MRTT, Boeing ponders KC-46A re-engine

  1. In the context of the BWB prototype program launched last August for the USAF, is this re-engining of the A330 and B767 a good way forward?

  2. “Boeing now has plenty of experience in building new airplanes and delivering them years later: consider the MAX, the 777X, and the 787.”


    • Yea that was a great line. It should be etched in the forehead of Calhoun.

  3. There is no need for Airbus to waste money and effort. USG will never buy a strategic weapon system from outside the US and it should not not be in Airbus’ interest to transfer all IPR to the US or have the USG interfere with any possible other sales. Also the USG will always strengthen its home industrial base and with Boeing Commercial Airplanes in complete disarray the BA needs every support it can get to keep its ecosystem alive.

    • Thing is – if Airbus doesn’t even bother to submit a bid, Boeing can price the aircraft at whatever it wants. The KC-46 has cost BA over $7 billion so far.

      Airbus may have lost the first battle, but made the Boeing victory very costly.

      • Be sure, contract modifications will help to solve the issue. BA will need and will get a fortune

        • ‘Be sure, contract modifications will help to solve the issue.’

          The KC-46 competition was awarded in 2011. Almost 13 years ago. No modifications. Boeing also lost it’s shirt on the new AF1 747. No modifications.

          Suffice to say, no – I am not sure that contract modifications will solve any issues. After all…capitalism.

          ‘BA will need and will get a fortune’

          Yes, they do need a fortune. Will they get it? (I infer that you mean from Uncle Sam). Given the way that politics are going right now and where BA is located, I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

          • Be sure, the USG is a hostage rather than a customer. And switching the to LMT or NG would not make a difference m

          • @Frank P

            BA “plans” to make a killing if and when KC-46A is re-engined. 😏 It’s all about “long-term” strategic thinking by those executives.

          • Before you guys go off the rails on this, understand that under the US procurement system a US Military entity and extend contracts.

            Those “extensions” are based on the same terms of the original.

            So no, Boeing can’t gouge the USAF on it.

            Equally like the E-7, price will be based on those supplied to Turkey and (South Korea?)

        • @rh

          ‘Be sure, the USG is a hostage rather than a customer.’


          “Boeing’s tanker losses top $7 billion”


          Boeing reports another huge loss on Air Force One program

          “The company has eaten more than $2.4 billion in losses on the program, according to a spokesperson.”


          So…about $10 billion in losses on those two programs alone.

          With ‘hostages’ like that, I would get out of the kidnapping business.

          • Yes you should. Obviously commenting on aircraft tech details is not your forte.

            Keep in mind Kidnapping is a Federal Crime and when they catch you, its life in Prison (just saying)

          • @TW

            Did everything really fly over your head again – or are you just clowning?

            I worry about you, sometimes…

          • Frank P:

            I worry too. I have read that if you think you wonder if you are crazy they you are ok.

            A good tech always questions themselves.

            Note the mistake you made saying Boeing can charge what they want. You have to understand the US Military contract system to understand that.

          • @TW

            About the KC-Y/KC-135 fleet recapitalization order:

            ‘The Air Force still has yet to formally decide to hold a KC-135 recapitalization competition, and Walton said Lockheed’s withdrawal may make it “even easier” for the service to go with Boeing’s Pegasus offering.

            If there is a competition, Boeing likely has the advantage, Walton said. Before Airbus’s statement today, he told Breaking Defense he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Airbus continues to pursue the recap race alone, if only to induce Boeing to make their offering to the Air Force more competitive and cut into Boeing’s potential profits.’



            I highlight this for you:

            ***Airbus continues to pursue the recap race alone, if only to induce Boeing to make their offering to the Air Force more competitive and cut into Boeing’s potential profits.***


            There is either going to be a follow on contract (in which you are correct) that the terms have already been established


            There will be a competition.

            The AF has not decided yet. But it is right there in black and white; If Airbus does not submit a bid in a competition, BA’s stands to profit more.

            (Ok, I concede, BA could not charge a billion dollars a plane and get away with it, but the point still stands)

          • Frank P:

            The reality is that the USAF got the grandest deal you can get. In the construction industry is called leaving money on the table. IE, someone messed up and bid too low OR they assessed future work would pay to get the contract and made sure they did.

            The question is why would the USAF pass up a good deal just to pay more?

            The answer is if the A330MRT had some magic that compensated for is higher price (or equally, features the KC-46A does not have that mean its worth it regardless of the higher price.)

            The A330MRT has one feature that KC-46A does not have, that is delivering more fuel at longer ranges (which was no part of the original base specs, ergo, Airbus could not get credit for it though the USAF violated that and did so, ergo, one of the reasons that bid was overturned)

            So, the guy can write anything he wants but the reality is the USAF knows its got a great deal. Cheaper by far would be to amend the current contract and get more tanks in the KC-46A (if that was needed important)

            What you do not get is that the ranges we are talking about mean aircraft flying from Hawaii and Alaska.

            What kind of a strike package would you get at those ranges?

            Nor does it address the distance off shore (in theory) you would have to be to avoid getting shot down.

            Flip is that having a common tanker in number has benefits of its own, infrastructure, crew training, maint, fuel burn etc etc.

            The USAF can’t just decide to let a new contract, they have to go to congress who has to agree to pay for it.

            You also do not seem to be aware that the original tanker contract was intended to replace (and was worded that way) the KC-135R. The 767 and the A330 were the only two aircraft that had the capability (and then some) the 4 engine KC-135 had. That is why no single aisle could meet the bid.

            Now look at the numbers (I know you like that). The KC-X was for 179 tankers. That does not replace the (400?) current KC-135R fleet (there are a number of non Rs in storage). The numbers are murky as adding up air-frames exceeds the number listed (398).

            The caveat is that the KC-46A is more available as it does not need the upgrades and maint that the KC-135R does. The USAF says it does not have enough tankers now, so what do you believe?

            The USAF had big eyes, they seemed to think they could convince congress for 3 different tankers. Shrug, it ain’t reality.

            KC-Y then becomes a way to get to KC-Z (whatever that turns out to be). Rather than a new program, its termed a Bridge program.

            And the way to do it and replace the KC-135R is to extend the current GREAT DEAL the USAF got. Because there is nothing interim that makes it worth the cost for another tanker.

            If you read LM stuff, they were bidding on what they claimed were benefits, not a direct up price. Airbus still has that issue, a non USAF compliant aircraft that they would have to build a plan in the US and staff up to make said updated A330MRT that does meet the USAF specs.

            How long do you think that would take? How much more would it cost. And you still have the issue, is it a price shootout or a features? Boeing has a complete handle on price, they can underbid Airbus but not by nearly as much.

            So all the discussion now is extending the KC-46A contract (the numbers keep changing, currently 79).

            The language is it has to be an in production aircraft, the A330MRT is indeed in production, but its not built to USAF specs and would have to be brought up to that.

            Add in a change to the A330NEO from the CEO an you have another delay.

            It is not going to happen. The contract will be extended and then extended again.

            And no one is accounting for the various US Allies (Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, France, UK) most of which operate A330MRT (sans Japan).

            But the bottom line is the KC-46A contract will be extended and its just a matter of by how much.

          • @TW

            You’re not wrong on the good deal thing.

            I’ve had read, mind you – that certain lawmakers are pushing for a competition.

          • Reality distortion alert:
            Can the RVS now perform as promised?
            To call a half-working aircraft years late a job well done and the “grandest deal you can get” certainly has a Trump vibe.

          • Frank P:

            Of course some lawmakers are pushing for a competition (absurd as that has been proven) because they are from Alabama. Standard politics.

            Airbus proved they can’t compete on price. To have a competion you would have to factor in.
            1. What is the excess cost incurred to have another tanker in the fleet?
            2. The KC-46A still beats A330MRT on fuel burn (and a caveat, The A330NEO MRT does not exist, so you flunk Airbus on that area on the CEO and Airbus flunks on an in production aircraft.
            3. Ramp space, A330MRT flunked that (or the fact of life is its just wider, the NEO is wider still
            4. The A330MRT does nto fit into the same hangars the KC-46A does, so those costs to add hangars have to be added into the defecit column.

            The terms in play are adders (credits) and or subtrqactors (deficits) that you have to identify and then put a weight to.

            A Hgypotentic would be tghe range fuel situaiton. So give Airbus 20% for that (lets just assume the USAF has that as a top prioriy). The A330MRT wins automaily, Boeing withdraws as they are not going to win, game and competion over.

            The flip is to have a price shootout and as long as either one meets the minium requiremtns (as both did in the last rodeao) then Boeing automatialy wins, game over, no compeltion.

            And the moneky wrench in the works is there is no A330MRT built to USAF specs, so there is a factor of risk (yes its in the bid package) and how much higher the A330MRT would be vs the known Boeing that has retired trhe risk (no disagreement Boeing was deemed a safe bet and they failed that, but we don’t know what issues the A330MRT would have had.

            We in fact have only one data point on that area and it was the Australain contract (first for the A330MRT) that took 5 years to get the problems corrected (not no one has said what they were, just they were there and it took 5 years.)

            We will agree that a one data point situation is not a valid way to assess something, you want a number of data points. But its the only one we have. Equally we know the Austrlain specs were not USAF specs.

            Cargo: Frankly that is a mixed bag. The KC-46A has a cargo door and main deck loading. As that is a norm for the USAF there is equipment at the bases to work with it (you need an elevated lift system be it forklift or what the call a ULD unit). You also get full sized pans or containers (or large ones). KC-46A is a plus in that area.

            Airbus has belly cargo and those are smaller containers and a different handling system. Less than ideal for cargo that won’t fit. So, all in all the KC-46A has an advantage there.

            And the USAF gets a great deal simply by extending the contract and its impossible to write a proposal that does not bias to one or the other (ergo all the problems with the bids involved and the violation by the USAF of the previous bid that was over turned, ie, giving credits where no credits were the the contract).

            Personally I would love to see the A330 built in the US. By the same token, cost wise it would cost the taxpayers a lot more than extending the current contract. Not that contract is let in lots of 12-15 so the USAF can extend it as little or as much as they want. Boeing probably has some rights to it being done in advance for the need to get long lead time items ordered.

            The one other aspect for the A330MRT is the work done on auto fueling on the boom (no such thing on the drogues by the way). Its both interesting and a ??? as its not in service and does it work with stealth aircraft (and would the USAF trust it to fuel a stealthy aircraft).

            So there we are. Its the same issues that always were there, its virtually impossible to have a real competition between aircraft that are as dissimilar as the KC-46A and the A330MRT. The USAF could take their best stab at it, but they would pay for for each tanker if the A330MRT took it, because the adders would be what tipped it that way (I am not against adders, its just they are extremely difficult to give a value to)

            The A330MRT suits smaller air forces that want a more multi mission Tanker (well whatever you want to call it, not a tanker when its hauling freight).

            And that is one area there can be no disagreement on. If you are hauling cargo, you can’t tank aircraft. If you are tanking aircraft (with one conception) you can’t haul cargo.

            That is an area that the A330MRT proponents don’t get. The USAF can get more cargo capability anytime they want by using the CRAF. In an emergency they can grab any UPS, FedEx, Prime (not sure they are in the CRAF) and suddenly you have hundreds of cargo capability aircraft. Most US airlines are part of the CRAF but United, American etc are pax only. There are also charters.

            What you can’t get on even long notice is more tankers (yes you can free up a few US tankers with private tankers but its limited).

            Realistically there can be no competition and cost wise USAF and the taxpayer is better off with KC-X contract extension.


            I know you know better, but will repeat it. The RVS fix has been approved but is not being fitted yet due to lead times. Part of it (wide view) was a USAF mistake and the USAF if paying for that part. The narrow view was a Boeing screw up and they are paying for that portion.

            But per the operators, its not something that they can’t work around so while not what anyone wants, its not a show stopper.

            In the meantime the USAF is getting new tankers with capabilities that KC-135s never dreamed of (no matter how much they are updated).

          • Trans wrote
            In the meantime the USAF is getting new tankers with capabilities that KC-135s never dreamed of (no matter how much they are updated).

            Trans, good points. Here are a few more things to consider…

            There are other costs for incorporating the Airbus Product.
            There is a HUGE spare parts inventory to buy. The rivets, Hilocks, switches, wire terminations, bolts, nuts, tires, wheels, brakes and landing gear parts. Hydraulic seals, glands, actuators, ballscrews,
            There is a very significant training cost, all the maintainer classes, special tools and the training syllabus itself.

            There is a large flight training investment needed with a pile of simulators and ground trainers.

            Hangar space and GSE become issues.

            All of those are already sunk cost on the KC46 although the airframe number to spares quantity’s will increase as will simulators and ground trainers quantitys. But there are a lot of Logistic concerns with bringing a new type to the fleet

          • Scott C: Thank you, I try to keep it in the “it makes sense” logic side.

            The KC-135 has been a good tanker, its been updated (engines) and they have done glass cockpit conversions. But that is akin to a computer running an old steam plant. Its still a steam plant right up to the transducers.

            Unless you have a true mad on, all those factors have to be taken into account as for example the A330MRT being introduced, has a whole host of costs most people don’t look past a bid process at.

            The KC-135 has its own infrastructure to replace but that infrastructure has huge costs as its old and dated. Parts are no longer made (gasp) and if something fails you have to let a contract for a few off replacements. Then you have to try to ensure that your hand build and very costly sources stays in business, or find another one and pay those costs.

            The only reasonably function cost on the KC-135R (CFM 56) is the engines. B-52 engines are being replaced because they cost huge amounts as nothing on them is in production and its all a hand built replacement.

            The KC-135 has an entire depot that is dedicated to fixing its issues and that means a lot of airframes out of service while the issues are corrected. They are doing an amazing job, but that also cascades into a lot of airframes out of service when you need everyone you can get.

            The good news is the KC-46A is reaching numbers that matter now with their INIS over and are becoming mainline. Each one is probably worth 2 KC-135R now simply on reliability and not having to do major structure repairs.

            It all says extend the contract, get the good deal and the reality is that KC-Z is a long way out in the future and 79 more are not going to cut it. The USAF will need more.

            KC-Z is at least 10 years away. Its different, its one off military jet making it costly as heck and it will take another 5 years AFTER it appears (if it appears) to get any significant numbers.

            And how many KC-Z do you really need? There are still the day in day out tanker support that does not require stealth or contest air space survivability .

            Its also the reason Airbus is almost certainly going to upgrade to an A330NEO MRT. Not for the US competition but future contracts for other air forces at which point they then count in US KC-Z just like we can count on a number of allies supporting is with their A330MRT now.

          • “The caveat is that the KC-46A is more available …”

            Hold on, once the RVS 2.0 is accepted, all delivered KC-46A would have to be grounded for extensive retrofit!!

            Back in 2010/2011, BA tried to justify their low bid, expecting “some losses”, by calling the KC-46 the “global standard tanker”.
            Oops, many countries would prefer the A330MRTT.

          • Pedro:

            You are being obtuse.

            Nothing says the KC-46A fleet has to be grounded to make the changes to the RVS.

            What they will do is incorporate the new RVS into the new builds as soon as they have the supply to do so (whicvh is part of the delay) and at some point KC-46A rolls off the line with that upgrade.

            They then establish a schedule for the rest of the built fleet to get upgraded.

            They will take into account the parts to do it and what the maint schedule for any given aircraft is as well as personnel available to do the upgrade .

            Some may be pulled off service but they will only take as many off (or wait for maint visit) to do the upgrade and some get upgraded over time.

            The operation needs will also be taken into account and as it can tanker all aircraft currently other than the A-10, that is where the focus will be, USAF needs then they work the rest into the picture.

            They have ways to mitigate the glare issue.

            Operational some squadrons are equipped and can be deployed over seas. Some are working up and some are starting the process.

            All that is coordinated with KC-135R availability and the upgrades that is undergoing (they are undergoing maint to fix issues with wear and tear but cockpits have upgrades as well)

            I hope that explains the situation for you.

          • “Nothing says the KC-46A fleet has to be grounded to make the changes to the RVS.”

            Haha, how long would it take? A couple hours?? 🙄

            It’d better if our poster did some research before posting anything that’s contrary to what’s known.

            More than six years after the first serious deficiency was identified, six cat. 1 deficiencies remain unresolved.

            RVS 2.0 won’t be ready for at least another two years or so. Supply chain hiccups, recall that?? By then, how many KC-46A have to be retrofitted? You plan to do it over a decade or more? 😂

            Furthermore, the stiff boom is another cat. 1 deficiency outstanding. Add excessive vibrations that results in crackings, fuel leaks, and more cracks that may result fuel on the flight deck. That looks like plenty of downtime once fixes are available! 😀

            Unlike you, I look for what’s realistic based on BDS’s recent performances, not wishful thinking.

      • And from Airbus’s point of view, every $billion Boeing loses on KC-46 is a $billion it’s not spending on developing a new commercial airliner. Leahy’s long term strategy of starving Boeing of market share and large margins has paid dividends in spades for Airbus.

        If there is a large pot of government gold in the KC-46 program somewhere down the road for Boeing, fine, but as a long term strategy that makes no sense. The company needs money now, not in 10, 15 years time. There’s no point Boeing having a winning strategy if the date of that victory comes after Airbus become the only remaining large aircraft manufacturer left in the world.

        • This is absolutely correct and an incisive comment.

          Every billion loss weakens BA and makes AB’s life a little easier. It’s only a two horse race….for now.

          • China’s a-comin’, and BCA’s fading badly in the stretch.
            That MQ-thingie and the awesome KC-46 A [and the US Taxpayer] will surely save ’em, though. 😉

            AB looking prudent with the expansion in Mobile- providing Jobs for Americans, and making a buck, too.


        • Nope, as noted, the USAF can extend the current good deal they got from Boeing and there is no reason to think they will not.

          See above – when you read something you have to asses its validity and that has no validity.

          Obviously he can write what he wants and equally he is wrong.

          • Trans.
            The contract for the next purchase of KC46s, if made, is not really a continuation of the first contract. The first contract was for the KCX. The second contract is for the KCY. The third contract I believe is the KCY. You dont compete contract extensions, and the KCY being a new work package is being issued as a new contract with new bids. Assuming Airbus bids, they will submit a price, and BA will submit a price. If it was a true contract extension, as you say, Airbusses price for the MRTT from the first go around would logically be selectable by the airforce. Im pretty sure that since it will potentially be competed, price and delivery terms are not locked at the KCX values. I dont think escalators are in play for anything other than reference data. remember the original KC46 bid included the creation of the training curriculum, design manufacture and standing up of a Sim Farm. Those costs are far different for the KCY if BA submits the KC46A unchanged. Just thinking out loud

          • Bit of a quandary for Boeing, isn’t it?

            Push for:
            A: Extend the existing contract at preset pricing too low to provide for acceptable profits.

            B: Go for a new (fake) competition.
            This would require “tilting the table” hard over towards advantaging Boeing.
            Will that float? or will they again get stuck in undercutting the competitor.

          • Scott C:

            I am going to disagree.

            The contract that will be extended is the KC-X. KC-Y and Z are just placeholders for the USAF thinking (dubious as it is at times).

            I have seen a number of contracts let by the military that when production was getting close to the end of the original, they had nothing better in the lineup (nor necessarily needed it) and they just extended the contract on the same terms as before.

            If the USAF had a new group of specifications for a different tanker, then yes it would require the whole congressional run through.

            Conceptually at the time of the KC-X/Y/X the USAF was looking to replace the KC-10 which would have required another bid process.

            Now the USAF is simply retiring the KC-10 and the KC-46A taking up the slack as it does have better offload than the KC-135R and while not as good as the KC-10 or the A330MRT, the KC-46A will not have to be in depot maint like the KC-135R and KC-10.

            Bottom line is the USAF has changed its thinking on what it needs and they have the authority to just extend the KC-X contract.

          • “The big losses are behind them.”

            Not so fast! Isn’t the refuel operating station has to be completely redo?

          • Pedro:

            You can be so pedestrian in this.

            The RVS problems are long known and understood with an approved fix. It has been accounted for in the losses.

            Boeing also gets money back for the RVS wide view fix that they USAF is paying for, just like fixing the boom problem.

          • BDS is footing the bill of RVS 2.0 development due to the defective RVS 1.0.

            The AF still has not signed off on the 2.0 yet. As BA failed to manage its supply chain in last two years and suffered costly cost overruns, how can you have such confidence that BA, not only havr figured out perfect cost estimates for a retrofit project that won’t start in at least a couple years, but also manage perfect execution??

            You were confident in BDS’s programs like T-7 and MQ-25. Haven’t you learned any lessons?? 🙄

          • The RVS fix is approved including an agreement on who pays for what.

            It will take a couple years to get the bit and pieces into production and ready for install.

          • Yup, it’ll take time and $. Remember how much debt BA owes?

            BDS has an execution problem, and a bad reputation of supply chain management. It remains until BDS (and BA overall) has proven otherwise.

    • the IG report raises no new technical or manufacturing issues, just the bugaboo of concurrency (which is a real issue for all military programs)

      the Navy postponed Milestone C due to the IG report, not any actual new issues with the MQ-25

      • Low rate initial production is delayed, I guess. Doesn’t sound positive for BA or its bottom line.

          • I’m pretty sure it as our honest and erudite friend TW telling us not long ago about how well Boing’s MQ-25 program was going.. it’s all searchable, of course.

          • the program (development of the aircraft) is actually going fine, the government’s plan to hold Milestone C review before IOC was not under Boeing’s control, nor their decision to change the schedule due to the IG calling the AF program office on the concurrency issue.

          • Back in April 2020, Dave touted BA’s defense and space division would provide the necessary stability for the company. I kid you not. The rest, as they say, is history.


            BDS has lost a staggering amount of money since 2014 (as of Q3 2022: total $11.5 billion).

            BA “is incentivized to generate quarterly returns”.
            “Boeing’s supply chain management oversight has changed significantly over the last decade or so as it focused on short-term profitability and outsourcing production elements (components, materials, services, etc) to suppliers.
            As it did so, it shifted a large measure of the responsibility for “on-time” delivery of components produced to exacting specifications to its second and third-tier suppliers.
            Essentially, the company outsourced supply chain management to its vendors,”
            “‘It’s essentially throwing all responsibility downward and hoping it all works out,’ Aboulafia asserts. ‘A lot of that is coming back to bite them now.’
            The shift away from the vertical integration historically central to Boeing and its McDonnell-Douglas predecessor was exemplified by company initiatives like Boeing’s Partnering For Success (PFS) 1.0 and 2.0 programs. Such master contract agreements with major commercial aerospace suppliers solidified price reductions and other benefits to Boeing in the latter half of the last decade.”


          • Well when you make mistakes you sometimes pay for them.

            A well run Boeing would see the defense side balance out the Civilian side with its up and downs (as does the Space part)

            Funny how Calhoun was there on the board when all that was done and how awful he view it now.

            Regardless, Boeing has contracts, it will serve those contracts and someday they may make money on the KC-46A, the more they make the lower the losses per hull and that does not count the service contracts they get.

            T-7A is the same. Yes its got its losses but its a franchise just in Trainers that will sell more than the contract with the USAF and it will sell some as a light fighter. Right now they are talking about using it to replace some of the F-16 missions as well as adversarial air contracts.

          • Read the Aboulafia piece I linked above.
            It’s quite evident that BDS is quickly losing its design and engineering capabilities as it enters a state of atrophy (like McDonnell Douglas) or worse.

          • @TW

            ‘Boeing has contracts, it will serve those contracts and someday they may make money on the KC-46A, the more they make the lower the losses per hull’

            Yes – as long as they have turned the corner on the losses and have started to produce products that generate positive margins.

            From the Q3 financials:

            ‘Defense, Space & Security third quarter revenue was $5.5 billion. Third quarter operating margin was (16.9) percent, due to a $482 million loss on the VC-25B program driven by higher estimated manufacturing cost related to engineering changes and labor instability, as well as resolution of supplier negotiations. Results were also impacted by $315 million of losses on a satellite contract due to estimated customer considerations and increased costs to
            enhance the constellation and meet lifecycle commitments.’


            Every quarter they rotate losses on their programs:

            2022 losses: ($3,656)
            9 month of 2023: ($1,663)

            I don’t know that they are done yet, with the losses…

          • Frank P:

            The big losses are behind them. There may be other issues that come up but they are also assured at least 79 more to spread those cost losses out over.

            And they have support contracts (on going now) that will pay off for 40 years or better.

          • Reassuring! Blown your foot off, it’ll heel/grow back again, with some luck. 😂

      • Yes, with a small increase in fuselage length over the -200
        ‘The hybrid design features strengthened 767-300ER wings, 767-400ER horizontal stabilisers and a 787-based cockpit display system’

        Best to think of it as a ‘chopped’ 767F as it has its higher MTOW too rather than lower -200ER weight

        • There is no fuselage length difference. The “additional” length of the KC-46 is because the boom extends beyond the end of the fuselage when stowed.

          • This fuselage itself is different length – nose to tip. Its a small extra fuselage section , I thought it was less , but that makes it a 767F ‘chop’
            KC-46 Length is 50.5m
            B767-200 is 48.51m

          • All my reading agrees with Duke on this.

            I never figured out why they did not go with a 767F and the issues with adding the length.

            My assumption is (and of course it could be wrong) they had to meet certain USAF specs or they would get hit with a subtractor for not meeting the minimum (or possibly they could not bid unless they did hit the minimum)

            And that is what the USAF wrote the contract on, price, and meeting the minimum.

          • @Transworld

            Boeing wanted a cargo version of the 767-200 to use as the base for the KC-46. Thus, they developed the 767-2C (because all 767-200 freighters were conversions, not new builds) and had that FAA certified.

            This meant KC-46 customers could, if they desired, access the vast support network for 767s and also gave Boeing the chance to offer the 767-2C to civilian customers (but of course, nobody was interested).

            The previous iterations of 767 tankers for Japan and Italy were based on 767-200 passenger frames.

          • Stleath66:

            The aspect of what was certified and not makes sense (and the 200 being the converted tanker)

            But as a military aircraft, any buyer can use the existing 767 network of parts and those parts as they want.

            One of the delays was the pods being certified and you have to ask yourself, what is the point of that? Well everything is certified and the pods can’t be carried.

            So no, I don’t get the value of certification unless its going to be sold as a civilian aircart (there is some merit to the 2C being sold to civilians).

            But I believe it was a USAF requirement, I don’t see the USAF paying for something that was a Boeing benefit and not theirs.

            There is a lot of equipment on the KC-46A that is exclusive to it (pumps, piping, the 787 conversion glass system) that no one has access to as other than Boeing and its customers.

            Squinting I could see the A400 possibly being used by Civies as is the C-130, but the KC-46A cost money and no return.

            Maybe the military rather than issuing specs for all that gear was happy with FAA certification and avoided cost to themselves.

          • The fuselage its self is a different length, hence the Boeing change of variant name to 767-2C

          • No. The reason the 767-2c is designated as such is that it is the second 767 tanker conversion airframe. It is an FAA certified COTS airframe used as feedstock for the KC46a. The first conversion airframe was the original 767 tanker that went to italy and I think Japan……

        • The length of 50.5m is for the KC-46. As I’ve already shown you, the difference in length from the 767-200 is because the boom extends beyond the fuselage by the extra 2m.

          Do you think Boeing gives the length of the fuselage, but ignores the boom?

          Can you provide a Boeing source that shows the length of the 767-2C as being greater than the 767-200?

      • The tanker world, an acronym rich environment requiring several reads, at least for me.

        So why was the one line reference to keeping the 757 dropped after the first round?

        • Ron:

          To the best of my knowledge the 757 was not considered for the first round as it was out of production.

          If you mean the 777? Then that was eliminated as the USAF had to meet the contract specs and the bid was purely on price (as long as they met the minium spec which the KC-46A proposal did)

          In some areas the A330MRT exceeded the spec but there were no credit for that (always a hard one as to the value of exceeding the specs)

          An example is the T-7A. Spec was Mach 1.0, so Boeing bid that as Mach 1.01. The reality is if you look at it, its easily capable of Mach 1.5. USAF was not going to pay for that so Boeing did not even say it would.

          The extra Mach was for future contracts be it another Air Force that wants more than Mach 1.0 and as a Light Fighter and eventually there will be some procured as adversarial air trainers.

          It takes some background in what is going on outside of a specific bit sometimes to see where it all is at.

  4. Re-engine the KC-46A with the GEnX-2B is not straight forward, just the naked engine mass is heavier 5623kg vs 4273kg, then you need to add bigger Nacelles and pylons. The wing spars then need reinforcement and maybe a bigger horizontal tail. One would think a KC-787F seems to be more logical as you have time to develop it to all USAF spec’s and you would have cargo, medivac and massive fuel capacity with modern engines, systems and spares in serial production(that the USAF say they do not need as they want the 767 footprint for some reason and to be the only customer for the old PW4062-3 engines.)

    • ‘One would think a KC-787F seems to be more logical ‘

      As someone who worked on the 767 program explained to me, the hoops BA had to jump through getting the 767 up to military spec, made the program a nightmare for them and it would have been easier to just design a new purpose built tanker rather than trying to take a COTS aircraft and convert it.

      Not sure they want to go through that again.

      • Yes, since they had the non-USAF spec KC-767 already it complicated the understanding of the amount of work required. In theory it should be easier to make a new tanker/freighter/medivac aircraft starting with a FBW aircraft to create a fully USAF spec aircraft. Today you would do both a stealth tanker with good range to be able to pop into battle zones to refuel stealth fighters and a non-SAM battle zone modern tanker/freighter/medivac aircraft. Hence both a KC-B21 tanker and a KC787F. The US DoD still has plenty of USD and can order a few 100’s of each.

        • ‘Hence both a KC-B21 tanker and a KC787F. The US DoD still has plenty of USD and can order a few 100’s of each. ‘

          Seems to me that the USAF has already ordered a couple hundred KC-46’s and the program is solidly in the red.

          Not sure that BA avoids any of the pitfalls of converting a 787 to military use, like they did with the KC-46. They can’t even get the pax 787 program into the black after almost 1,100 deliveries.

          One could postulate that they will learn from their mistakes. Another point of view would be that they will grab a deal, trumpeting ‘free cash flow’ and kick the can down the road.

          Where would you place your bets?

          • Frank P:

            Have you ever built a tanker from the ground up?

            Maybe there is a reason (gasp) that the US and Airbus do it the way they do?

          • No one seems to get that duplicating a tanker via a 787 and possibly much harder due tot he nature of the fabrication method makes any sense.

            Tankers fly something like 900 hours a year.

            The USAF is perfectly happy with the tanker they are getting (well they will be). Why would they add another aircraft to the mix that has nothign in common with their current tanker?

          • @Transworld – an example from a different program in a different field is the UK’s failed MR4 Nimrod program. It’s not directly applicable, but interesting.

            Apparently at some point in the project there was a dead-heat between the cost of BAE designing a whole new maritime patrol aircraft from scratch, and a large scale refurb / update of the old Nimrod MR2a airframes. They went with the refurb because it was fractionally cheaper.

            That was before they realised that the economies of scale for the refurb were ruined by the too-late realisation that 1960s airframes are not built to tight tolerances, all the same. Turns out that building a new design would have been the better bet.

            There’s only so much mileage to be had in continuing to adapt an old design; cruft builds up.

            **Reverse Donor**

            I think that with a bit of imagination Boeing could have viewed a new tanker design as a reverse donor. If Boeing had designed a new tanker from scratch, it could have become the donor design into a new civil airliner with the advantage that Uncle Sam has picked up some of the bills.

            De-militarising a design is probably easier anyway – sounds like deleting things. And if the tanker project didn’t make money, there’d have been opportunities to make the money back in civil market sales.

            It could also have provided the USA with interesting options of there being a large numbers of civilian aircraft with a predetermined re-militarisation plan mapped out. If there were a sudden need for a large number of tankers, the USAF would have been able to requisition the civilian fleet and do the quick conversion.

          • @TW

            No, like you – I have not. But I know someone who has. Perhaps you missed that point I made. Might I suggest you go back and re-read what I posted.

          • @Matthew. The MR4 is a good example for the B-52 reengine excersise as it becomes very hard to recertify a very old airframer heavily updated with new engines, structures and systems if you are to meet current RAF/USAF spec’s. The UK discovered late and killed the MR4, we’ll see how the B-52 fares in the Dayton USAF certification offices.

          • Claes . Military aircraft arent normally certified by civilian agency. The KC-46 was an exception because of the need to tap into the existing maintenance and spares systems and infrastructure.
            B52 and MR4 wouldnt even come near a civilian agency , but the Air forces have their own standards
            The UK was a change of government who slashed defence expenditure, police, and many levels of government spending. MR4 was a low hanging fruit. The new wings onto the old fuselage issue was solved just that it cost money and most of airframes were completed.
            Another £2.5 BILL was later spent for P-8, so it doesnt seem much was saved but got a better plane ( that wasnt available when the program began) and a 10 yr gap in capability

          • Boeing should be able to create a KC-787 team under Alan M. using retired engineers and project managers together with Space X, Japanese, Korean and Singaporean talent. Still there are senior executives not wanting Alan M. spend a few $bn and make a new success.

          • There is a correction needed on Certification aspect. Airbus also certified the A400. I have yet to see a satisfactory explanation. The USAF does not care about parts, as long as they meet US Military specs the paperwork for certification matters not. Nothing else the US military operates is certified.

            Doing a 787 tanker would have billions upon billions of costs and you can add that into the billions lost on the KC-46A and it gets you? There is no logic to that.

            A new aircraft means a new program and that has not been approved. The KC-46A has been approved, and the USAF can extend that (boom pun) to however many number they want or if congress sees they are shorting the tanker fleet, can dictate the USAF buy more (remember the C-17 extensions? – yep, the USAF did not want to and they need every C-17 they can get.

            And its not up to Boeing, its up to the government as to how the contract is expressed. Boeing spending 15 billion on an all new aircraft vs the conversions is the cost we are talking about. 15 billion is just the up front cost, then you have to add the ramp up and plant costs and …… by the time you see an aircraft, you are easily 20 billion in the hole.

            the notion that Boeing could spin off said aircraft into a civilian model is beyond wild. Boeing does not need an aircraft in that category, it has the 787. As there is zero need for a civilian tanker, you then have to modify the tanker you built into an airliner at more billions cost just to duplicate the 787 category. Hmmm, how does that make any sense?

            The B-52 is not being turned into a Sub Hunter. Its getting new engines. New engines are not uncommon (can you say A320?)

            Or DC-8? Or KC-135R? Or C-5M?

          • Its also worth looking at the re-engine of the KC-135 and the DC-8, greatly successful programs.

        • Claes wrote
          Yes, since they had the non-USAF spec KC-767 already it complicated the understanding of the amount of work required. In theory it should be easier to make a new tanker/freighter/medivac aircraft starting with a FBW aircraft to create a fully USAF spec aircraft.

          First. There is no advantage to flying a FBW aircraft in a tanker role. In fact it opens up many potential loss of vehicle scenario with EMP, HIRF jamming. A mechanical flight controlled aircraft with a few million fleet hours works fine. Second, the potential for creating a tanker out of a FBW aircraft that passes all the requirements is just as difficult as a mech flight control aircraft. Ask the Aussies. The 787 tanker thought is a non starter because it has insufficient reserve thrust available to breakaway, one of the clearly stated qualification needs. There is no way to fix it as it is underpowered. Ibterestingly, the A330MRTT cant perform that maneuver either as it is also underpowered.
          The entire COTS aircraft purchase requirement was to get an airplane with known baseline performance and demonstrated stability and control attributes that are safe. The downside of COTS is the enormous cost of reconfiguring a commercial aircraft to milspec service. Tankers are the worst animal to convert due to the explosion proofing needed for the electrical system, just for starters. And yes, I’ve done a tanker from scratch twice.

          • There are lots of different requirements to fulfill some are easier using multiple redundant ARINC Specification 664 Part 7 or Boeing equivalent cables for battle hardness. Using laser comm fiber it is easier to avoid jamming and if a couple are broken from battle damage you have a few remaining with different routing. Similar for fire/chemical spills. We will see what Dayton wants and what congress decides.

          • Claes:

            It matters if you know hardening specs for non FBW. Airbus is an unknown as we don’t know what if any EMP specs they have.

            Yes there is a NATO standard, but at the time it was an Australian project.

            While people are supposed to meet NATO spec they don’t always and France for instance would buy the A330MRT if it met them or not.

            Frankly EMP is not a good one as if there is EMP all bets are off. Tanking will be the least of anyone’s concerns.

            So assume Airbus has met various specs by various nations, none of those is USAF specs.

            The 787 was not a candidate simply because it would;d require even more work to convert than a 787.

            Boeing had converted 767s as had others and it was understood.

            No one has converted a CRFP airframe (including Airbus).

            Clearly Boeing thought a conventional conversion was easier than it has proven to be. Simply no way was Boeing going to put a 787 into it, for that as well as why do that when the 767 does it just fine?

            A 787 brings nothign to the table a 767 does not for a tanker and a lot of issues that have to be solved.

            For some reason Boeing elected to use the skin of the KC-46A as an antennae. They had issues with it but its been solved. 787 would be totally different as it has no aluminum skin.

            Cutting and modding CRFP has not been done and you loose your civilian output that you get paid for better.

            Sometimes you just go with what is good enough that does the job not the perfect (and that assumes the 787 had something that was perfect).

        • Its a cross feed situation, both lend weight of numbers to the production.

        • So if one kills off the junk, crapola, grossly over-budget KC-46A, the stone-age, ICAO non-compliant 767 could be terminated as well?

          So what’s the problem?

          • The politicians want the USAF to subsidize old companies not doing great in the commercial world buying old technology or 2:nd best products. No wonder the F119 won over the F120, F135 over the F136 the KC-46 over the KC-45. If it is full war and white Americans dying in volumes they will change to get the best product as fast as possible. Right now America is fat and happy when you look at its history.

          • Vicent:

            Unfortunately most of your description is wrong.

            KC-46A is not over budget. The USAF is paying the same price it did when the contract was issued. Boeing is taking losses but the program is mandated by the contract and those are Boeing losses.

            You should not that on two of the “issues” they were determined to be USAF mistakes. One was the boom tension that the USAF spec was wrong. The other was the wide view portion of the RVS that Boeing met the USAF spec and the USAF determined they did not like what they speced and are paying to correct both those problems.

            You would be well advised (I guess I am arn’t I?) to read the pilot reports on the KC-46A. I have read two and they think the KC-46A is the best thing since sliced bead. One of those authors also had some time in the A330MRT and liked some of what it offered but felt the KC-46A had areas it was superior in.

            The problem is that you are saying that Boeing should terminat the KC-46A for unsupported reasons and impact companies that want the 767F. Werid logic.

            Further you do not assess what ICAO is addressing in the requirement on .

            The firm that has the most to loose is Embraer as the E1 is not compliant.

            The USAF is not going to quit buying KC-46A, they are exempt from ICAO nor are they entirely stupid. They need tankers and Boeing if making 2 a month. Airbus is making a handful a year, they could not step in and make up that losses in less than 5 years.

            And we are not talking about grounding even non ICAO compliant engine (thousands of aircraft).

            So what is the point? The source of 767F just shifts to the used market and carries on.

            ICAO reg is nothing more than a Solution in search of a problem that does not exist.

            And the hoot is that E1 production is a consequence of Scope Clauses and ICAO has no control over that.

          • @TW

            I doubt the K-46A is “under” or “within” budget of BA.

          • Pedro:

            That is not relevant as its the USAF program, aka US dollars approved that is paying for the program.

            The losses are Boeing’s problem.

            US Budget process has a kick in clause of 25% exceedance for a program review and possible termination.

            The F-35 is vastly over budget, but its been allowed to continue but keep in mind the F-35 contract is totally differently written than the KC-46A contract (or KC-X contract)

          • Claes:

            At this point the politicians have nothing to do with the contract.

            Its been let and Boeing is producing what was contracted for.

            You clearly are not reading how these contracts work and how virtually impossible it is for Airbus to compete with a larger aircraft.

            This contract was on price and Boeing was alwyas going to win that. Leaving 10% on the table was a shock but the USAF got a great deal.

            You can try to equalize a contract on features, but each adder has to have some weight assigned to it and then someone is going to complain its too much or too little.

            A lot is made about the A330MRT longer range/offload capability. And clearly it is there.

            How much is that worth? 1%, 2, 5, 10, 20?

            What the USAF did was build a matrix of the tanker routes and offloads and the KC-46A met and meets that.

            A lot of the KC-46A is built in Japan.

  5. ‘Extending production of the freighter would help keep costs low for the tanker, FedEx Chairman Fred Smith told me in September 2022. ‘

    On an interesting Fred Smith note:

    “The biggest delivery business in the U.S. is no longer UPS or FedEx”


    “Amazon’s rise to the top carrier was once viewed as farcical by logistics CEOs. In 2016, FedEx’s then-CEO Fred Smith dismissed the notion of Amazon becoming a threat to the logistics giant as “fantastical.” “In all likelihood, the primary deliverers of e-commerce shipments for the foreseeable future will be UPS, the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx,” Smith said at the time. “

    • Lets see, FedEx has something like 700 some aircraft. Prime has 60?

      FedEx has the largest LTL fleet in the US.

      Prime has (zero?)

      Fox is not exactly what you would call a reliable source of anything (I need to amend that, Alternative Facts they deliver by the Super Panamax Container ship load)

        • Yes. Amazon Prime Air has 59 767s and 22 737-800s. many operated by cargo airlines for Amazon

      • If anybody cared to read the details:

        ‘Amazon.com has grabbed the crown of biggest delivery business in the U.S., surpassing both UPS and FedEx in parcel volumes. The Seattle e-commerce giant delivered more packages to U.S. homes in 2022 than UPS, after eclipsing FedEx in 2020, and it is on track to widen the gap this year, according to internal Amazon data and people familiar with the matter. The U.S. Postal Service is still the biggest parcel service by volume; it handles hundreds of millions of packages for all three companies. ‘

        • You can slice those numbers any way you want.

          FedEx does a huge amount of BUSINESS and government delivery on top of the Home Delivery.

          Yea it makes great sensationalism. FedEx delivers to Amazon who then delivers to the home. Hmmmm

          • You don’t slice numbers, remember? You’re the technical guy who sneers at guys who slice numbers.

            But I guess you ran down the first source and that didn’t work out, so now you’re onto that data itself.

            Business as usual…

          • Frank P:

            You missed a critical element. A tech does slice the number, in fact we eat, breather and live with and for numbers.

            Its accounting I don’t do (and I have apologized for that remark). It not my gig, you need accountants just the same as managers. You don’t want accountants running things, a company is more than accounting.

            You also don’t want a tech running things. You can have techs or accountants running things but they have to move up into how to manage and deal with an enterprise not base how they do things on their background.

            In Europe its no uncommon for Engineers to lead companies and Mullaly of course was an engineer. You still have to have the ability to be more than an engineer.

            So that said, yea, numbers mean the world to a tech. We also know when a number is being taken out of context.

        • FedEx to shut down 29 more aircraft as demand shrinks

          “Since fall, the company’s in-house airline has slashed dozens of daily flights from its schedule, accelerated the retirement of aging aircraft and deactivated other aircraft until demand picks up. Management has also indicated it plans to rely more heavily on partner airlines in the future instead of purchasing capacity itself to improve cash flow and prioritizing owned aircraft for parcel shipments over heavy freight, which will be moved more by third parties.”

          • FedEx has been flying non stop to West Coast for a long time (777F).

            Its an express express service that cost more. Saves something like 4 hours (obviously its worth it for some but most of the flights stop in Anchorage for fuel and or sorting freight and clearing customs)

            So, like the Ultra Long Singapore to New York flights, you can do it, you just have to drop cargo and you have to assume there is enough super premium business to do so. The 777F has great range, but you have to drop weight (even in the bulk out situation there is a weight drop, aka fuel for freight exchange)

          • You did notice that article is dated in November of 2010?

          • Got it, 14 years out of date …………………….

          • At least I was aware that FedEx has been flying direct from Asia to IDY since 2013. Unlike … 😒

          • Pedro:

            Well I guess we give you a pat on the back. All I remember direct flight wise was the West Coast and even that I am not sure which city other than it was SFO or LA.

            As I told one guy who wanted to know everyi8ng FedEx as doing, not my business. I keep the place running so they can put cargo through this place.

            A lot of it was propriety and I did not ask, none of my business.

            I did follow details if the FedEx side was talking about it as there were always rumors ANC was going to be shut down.

            Bypass flights were part of that concern.

            Indy may or may not have come up but they are still sending boatloads of 777s and MD-11 through Anchorage and obviously the fly past ANC concerns were overblown, certainly after 14 years but not a clue what the point really was or is.

            It will be interesting to see if FedEx buys 777X-F or sticks with the current 777F and goes for conversions.

          • FedEx better keep an eye on its bottom line. They may downsize their fleet.

  6. calling the wing on the A330-800 “modern” is a bit of a stretch. all they did was update the “twist” a small amount relative to the -200 wing which provides about a 1% cruise efficiency improvement and theoretically slightly reduces likelihood of wing drop at high angles of attack (where a commercial aircraft should never be anyway)

    not like they re-winged it or even changed the airfoil section.

    WRT reengining the 767, I would expect they would use the 747-8 bleed air version, not the 787 electric version and add 737 style winglets to maximize the gains and minimize costs.

      • The A330NEO wing is also LONGER by 25 feet, so if they had a problem meeting USAF specs for spacing that makes it worse.

      • I forgot, they added new winglets that extended the wingspan to the gate limit.

        but the vast majority of the wing is just the old wing structure and shape.

        • A330NEO and 787 are aero wise about equal.

          Airbus wings regularly are a bit ahead of the competition ..

          • Uwe:

            That is funny. That is why Airbus is still using the dated winglets and not a crank wing end.

          • @transworld

            What “dated” winglets is Airbus still using? I can only assume you haven’t looked at the A350 and A330neo wings.

            From above, the A330neo wing is very similar to the 787 except the “crank end” (as you call it) curves slightly upwards.

    • bilbo
      November 28, 2023
      calling the wing on the A330-800 “modern” is a bit of a stretch. all they did was update the “twist” a small amount relative to the -200 wing which provides about a 1% cruise efficiency improvement……

      not like they re-winged it or even changed the airfoil section.

      WRT reengining the 767, I would expect they would use the 747-8 bleed air version, not the 787 electric version and add 737 style winglets to maximize the gains and minimize costs.

      You have to remember that when you change the “twist” (Washout actually) That changed every wing rib, all the upper and lower wing skins and made for new flight control surfaces with relocated hinge points.
      The 474-8 engine makes sense, but winglets are a non starter as there are already mass balance issues with the refueling pods inducing unwanted vibes. Adding mass to the wing tips isn’t wise.

      • Scott C:

        I may have missed something here? Boeing already delivers the 767F with winglets (as an option).

        UPS has them, FedEx does not. I assume that has to do with how they are operated and the return on the winglets (or no return). UPS does a lot of International Long distance flying with the 767 (about 1/3 of the UPS aircraft going through Anchorage are 767F)

        FedEx fly locally (in the US, In Asia, In Europe) as kind of a regional operation (granted its region on a continental scale). A FedEx 767F going through Anchorage was rare.

        The USAF elected not to have winglets (or thrust reverses). Winglets apparently do not return anything to the USAF for their cost. Thrust revers save wear and tear on brakes and it seems that also is not worth the costs though the Navy is sorry they did not have them on their P-8 that wound up in Kaneohe Bay.

        • Trans…
          You seem to be missing a few things…..
          1) The P8 has thrust reversers.
          2) Boeing does not offer winglets on the 767F. The ones you see are an STC installed component and also include internal rib bay stiffeners to account for the increased bending moments.
          3) The omission of winglets from the KC46 revolves around the wing bending moment limits and flutter excitation. The warps ( drogue reels) already have the wing close to a bad vibe node. Hanging more bob weights on the wing tips makes it worse, and reduces offload fuel capacity
          4) Thrust reverser omission is done for 1 reason. It increases fuel offload capacity…. You dont need reversers because there is no tactical necessity for clearing the runway thinking of faa rules for seperation. The usaf uses MTS and MLS which are far more compressed than airlines do. Minimum takeoff seperation on KC135s is 15 seconds. MLS I believe is 20…. I dont have the KC46 numbers at my fingetips. Operationally, KC46s roll to the end of the runway or whatevwr high speed turnoff works well. Its not about cost.

          • Scott C:

            Thank you. Good to have a true tech discusion.

            From the looks of the P-8 I did not see thrust reversers deployed so assume they to did not have them.

            I thought I had read the 767 Winglets were Boeing kit but clearly wrong.

            As I understand it, thrust reverse are not a separation aspect but a wear and tear on brakes saving . Thrust reverse can be out of service and a civilian aircraft can still fly.

            They are a way to reduce the energy going into the brakes which means hotter, more wear etc so at least for Civilian use, worth it.

            They can also act as an aid if your brakes go out. I did not think that was possible but we have had two 757s have that occur with lately. I believe thrust reverse was used but both were damaged (maybe beyond repair, have to look that up)

            Again good to get into some great detail on this area

    • Not really. Just a lot in motion and decisions will be made. Just normal.

  7. The 767 tanker will win And this with follow the 100 year plan from Calhoun The 767 launched in 1978 (still using the same Gemcor wing riveters at Everett) New award 767 in 2026?…say 12 year delivery window…puts it to 2038 …..40 service life…….there you go 100 year airplane program!

    The Boeing “Back to the Future” program strategy!

      • Frank P:

        Yes we know that Boeing should just close the door as they are loosing money.

        Nuff said.

        • Orrrrrrrr…

          Perhaps they should price their products accordingly and invest in R&D and engineering, instead of buybacks and dividends.

          But you keep running me down, I’m sure doing the same thing, claiming the same refrain, will get different results.

          • Hey Frank,
            Theres a 3rd choice, Have the IEs throw away industry generic learning curves and so horrifically underbidding future airplanes just to make the program paper profitable

          • The stock buyback thing is getting old. That has not happened since the Max crash. And how do you know what Boeing is or is not working on. Corporations do not operate like social media, they do not telegraph their every move publicly. Those in the know, the airline customers have a good idea of what is coming from both OEMs, and NDAs keeps their mouth shut, unless your Fred Smith from FEDEX.

          • How would outsiders assess an airframer or an airline works or not?

            Let’s see:
            On time performance is one metric and P/L reported each quarter is another. Of course, for a particular airframer, it’s much more difficult because one have to see through the smoke and mirror/financial engineering etc.

          • @williams

            FCF is a dog whistle.


            ‘Free cash flow is arguably the most important financial indicator of a company’s stock value.

            Understanding Free Cash Flow to the Firm (FCFF)
            FCFF represents the cash available to investors after a company pays all its business costs, invests in current assets (e.g., inventory), and invests in long-term assets (e.g., equipment). FCFF includes bondholders and stockholders as beneficiaries when considering the money left over for investors.’


            ‘A high free cash flow allows for more growth opportunities, a higher potential for share buybacks, stable dividend payouts, and the ability to wipe out any debt with ease.’


            This is from the BA 3rd Q results, press release:

            Boeing Reports Third Quarter Results
            Third Quarter 2023

            • Reaffirm guidance: $4.5-$6.5 billion of operating cash flow and $3.0-$5.0 billion of free cash flow (non-GAAP)

            (I draw your attention to the fact that it is the first bullet point)

            While you may think it is getting old, it remains the top priority for the financial engineers at BA – who are still in control.


            How do I know what BA is working on?

            Well – I look at their financials…

            Research and Development The following table summarizes our Research and development expense:

            2016 2015 2014
            $4,627 $3,331 $3,047

            2019 2018 2017
            $3,219 $3,269 $3,179

            2022 2021 2020
            $2,852 $2,249 $2,476

            You see a trend here?


            And here is the portion of R&D that BCA got, because that decreasing number is for all three division:

            Commercial Airplanes $3,755 $2,340 $1,881

            Commercial Airplanes $1,956 $2,188 $2,247

            Commercial Airplanes $1,510 $1,140 $1,385


            So just to compare, in 2016 BA spent $4.627 billion on R&D of which BCA rec’d $3.755 billion.

            In 2022 BA spent $2.852 billion (up from $2.249 in 2021) and BCA rec’d $1.510 (up from $1.140 billion).

            Whatever BA is working on BCA got less than HALF of what it got in 2016 to develop it.

          • You really have to set aside 2020-2022 R&D. Covid-impacted.

          • Scott:

            Far be it from me to agree with Frank P, but I had some personal experience with that.

            Lo many years back (80s) we were in that horrible downturn.

            My company had just acquired a big diesel generator and I got sent to school to learn the ins and outs of that specific engine.

            There was an interesting aspect involving oil consumption and the engine MFG had seen it but they could not get to it as all their test stands were in use and allocated from some time.

            I was somewhat shocked, the engine mfg guy said, we have not taken our foot off R&D. The attidute is the business will come back and we need to be ready to respond.

            I thought that was the way to operate. Either the business comes back or the system crashes and there is no business so keep doing your R&D.

            They did put out preliminary info on it that they latter backed up with testing that saved everyone a lot of grief.

          • “The stock buyback thing is getting old.”

            The damage is done.

  8. I’ve pointed this out before, but Boeing has a significantly improved wing option for the 767 and has previously assembled a -200 model with this option (line number 923). That of course was the prototype for the original tanker deal that got blown up by the Sears/Druyan/Condit debacle.

    The obstacle to using that configuration was the consolidation of the 767 final assembly process into the 40-32 bay in the Everett factory, which forced pushing the planes out a new back door. Even using the older wing, the planes produced that way would not fit around the end of the buildings, forcing the 40-53 building to have its NW corner lopped off and rebuilt. The new better wing (the so called -400 created in the Stretch 2000 program) wouldn’t clear the modified building and the site utilities at the south end of the 40-10/11 buildings.

    But now with the 747 program gone, the 767 final assembly process can be done with clear sailing out the front of the building. So not only should they put better engines on it, they should also put on the better wings. That would be a pretty good tanker and/or package freighter platform. And gee, much of the requisite engineering is already done.

    • RTF:

      The problem is it is still a major cost to get a new wing and an new engine on it into production.

      And will the USAF want the wing and engine? If its longer that brings up the same issues as the A330CEO and more so on the NEO.

      ps: I had a guy ask me to winch a shed out of his back yard, we were boxed in by the edge of his roof and no way around it. So I told him, you can leave it there, disassemble it or we can the corner of the roof off (which is what he did!).

      • hmmm….new wing and new engine…sounds familiar? just look at the 777x program…12 years before entering revenue service in 2025

        Of yeah, no FAA needed for military (unless Fed X want more freighters with new engines)

  9. Please note that Scott said “follow on order” ergo off the original contract.

    That may or may not be the current price depending on what if any escalator clauses were built into the contract but it will be a bargain.

    Airbus is not going to get anything other than simplifying its product line with a A330NEO tanker. Its not even in production.

    Airbus may do it so they can drop the CEO line but not to get a USAF contract.

    As for competition, the USAF is not going to get a better deal than the bid Boeing made at 10% under the Airbus bid, that ship (well airplane) has sailed (err taken off)

    • Why would you think a follow-on order would, out of the blue, has cost escalator clauses?

      • Pedro:

        I don’t know it does, but the contract will have clauses in it that the USAF pays for something that is above and beyond the contract.

        You can add things such as inflation rate escalator as this is a very long term contract in the KC-46A case (or more accurately materials cost escalator)

        We know the broad layout of the contract but we don’t know what the terms are.

        Boeing for example refused to change the Wide Aspect of the RVS, they did it to spec and it met spec. The USAF did not like it but it was there spec. So they paid for that part of the fix.

        • You are trying very hard to mix up what is inflation escalator and what is not.

          • Yes, I forget what lot that is but they order in bunches so Boeing can get the long lead time items bought so they are there when its ready to be assembled.


            No I am not, those are just possible examples. I would not be surprised at all if there is an infaltion clause (I do not know it)

            Flip is I do know that if the USAF wants something that was not in the contract, they have to pay for it (or if it was something they speced but were wrong and they want it changed.). In that case either the USAF pays to have it changed or they don’t get it. Its a decision based on do they think its worth it to pay more for that change.

            In the case of the Boom spec, they had to pay for it as the could not fuel an A-10 unless they did.

            In the case of the Wide Vision part of the RVS, they determined it was worth paying to fix it for whatever reasons. That was the big hold up. The USAF wanted Boeing to pay for it which they refused though they agreed to pay for the part Boeing messed up which was the more critical narrow view.

          • You are trying to hunt for a ghost under your bed. That’s not how contracts work. If there’re cost escalators built-in then BA’s execution is even worse than I can imagine.

          • The latest order is part of the original 179 KC-46 contract. Not truly “new” orders.

          • Pedro:

            So? Its a legal requirement, the USAF has to follow that and in this case they order by blocks.

            They can terminate the contract as well (there would be penalty clauses).

  10. 16 Air forces selected the MRTT, since Boeing offered the 767 tanker 20 years ago. That says something.

    IMO the USAF should have ordered the KC46 with the GENX. It was readily available & everyone understood the eighties PW engine was what it is and at some point a costly re-engining of the 30 year old aircraft would be required for the next 40 years..

    • Keesje:

      That fails the logic test. The USAF does not care about ICAO. The PW 4000 is a proven reliable engine and its got good economics (see the latest LEAP and GTF issues!)

      Ok, the GenX is a proven engine at this time – but it was not on a 767 and that would have been an added bid cost (note the A330MRT uses old engines as well)

      But as noted before, the USAF does not want winglets nor thrust reversers. Its a cost thing and a 900 flight hours a year, its determine it does not pay the money they cost to buy and maintain.

      And in a fit of Irony, the boom on the A330MRT is for USAF aircraft only, no one else uses the boom fueling system!

      Yes, the A330MRT has sold to a number of air forces, small ones. For them the A330MRT made sense. For the USAF where numbers are important and cargo is not a main requirement, then the KC-46A makes sense.

      And note, Boeing did not make 767 tankers for the USAF, those were for Italy and Japan (I think Israel made their own).

      The KC-46A would be the first 767 based tanker for the USAF.

      • The F35A which has been bought by many european/asian/Australian/Canadian air forces – and increasing- uses the USAF style boom socket. Along with C-17 and P-8. The KC-46 of course carries both boom and basket with some having additional pods for more trailing baskets

        • Duke:

          Good point, I do not know for sure what other air forces have done in regards to fueling.

          The F-35B and C do use the drogue system as that is the Navy standard.

          I don’t they they modified the C-17 to do drogue but I could be wrong. P-8 of course uses the boom (Navy spec but its not off a carrier, phew, can you say B-25?)

          So it would be accurate most of the Allied aircraft used drogue. The A400 does. But yea that boom can come in handy.

          Note the UK does not have any booms and they operate the C-17. So they have to rely on another air force if they want to re-fuel that bird.

          In reality tankers are agnostic and we have used French and Brit tankers in the past operations and they have used our stuff in more recent years.

          • C17 is a fuel hog.

            Can you feed more fuel per single drogue
            connection than the 4 engines consume?

          • Uwe:

            So what? False equivalence.

            A drone can’t haul 171,000 lbs can it?

          • “… False equivalence. ..”

            you should refrain from answering posts with content you have not grasped.

          • Uwe:

            I agree most of you content is not graspable as it flies in the face of facts, but there we are.

          • The UK has no choice, the F-35B is drogue only.

            I would need to see proof that Canada has. Its possible but the F-35A does not come with a drogue and it would take a re-desing of some magnitude to do that.

  11. Airbus forced Boeing into a bad deal by pricing the KC46 to low in fear of missing out.
    It was a great move strategically.
    Boeing knew that Airbus could not offer the A330mrtt for the same price as the B762ER based KC46. Because the A332 as a base is significantly more airplane with higher production cost.
    But still, Boeing outpriced itself in fear of the better performance and better capabilities of the A330mrtt.
    If you think about it, Boeing reported 7 bn. in losses form the KC46.
    Together with the Max and B777x losses, that`s the development cost of another family.
    So basically, all these things saved Airbus from having to compete against a NSA or B797.

    Airbus played it well, same with the Neo.
    If would be great for Airbus to fore Boeing into another crazy re-engine project in an otherwise dead air frame.

    Also it`s 3 hits with one slap. You cut the profits of Boeing and put price pressure, might force them into another Frankenstein development, sell your updated A330neo mrtt and reduce the complexity of your production.
    On top, one day you push the A339F and enjoy your position.

    Everyone knows they will buy Boeing, but another pyrric victory might be too much for Boeing.
    Airbus will need the A330neo mttr anyway. Other countries will buy it.

      • Sash:

        What you are putting forth is false equivalency notion.

        Airbus made a billion dollars on the bid as contract is awardd, money changes hands (1.2 billion or so) and then protest but you don’t have to return the money if the protest is upheld like it was.

        Clearly Boeing wanted that contract and were willing to ensure they were under Airbus. Nothing brilliant on Airbus part.

        There is not going to be a KC-46A re-engine. The USAF would have to be willing to pay for it. FedEx and UPS don’t care, clearly fuel burn is not the end all be all for them, FedEx is still flying the MD-11 and UPS is flying the dated A300 (well both are flying A300/310).

        FedEx and UPS are not going to buy large numbers so why would they want to add another engine to the mix that they have to gear up maint wise for?

        Tankers fly 700 hours a year (roughly). There is not only no return and a NEO, a new engine would put you into negative numbers with the added cost that the USAF would have to pay for, both for the project and the added maint of another engine.

        Airbus will very likely shift over to the A330NEO for the MRT, that way they can shut down the A330CEO line.

        If Boeing can’t get waivers then they simply build as many as UPS and FedEx (or anyone else) is willing to contract for and then the 767 gets shutdown and Boeing does a 787F.

        UPS and FedEx then will determine if conversions are the way to go or they are willing to pay for a 787F.

        • All A330 models …4 per month …are on a single final assembly line. The new engines and supporting structure are only for neo models.
          I presume the wing twist change – but not the tip extensions- are a new production standard for all, As it required a more automated wing box build and some design changes as well.
          “The central box of the wing produced in Nantes uses an innovative design called Isogrid that contains 330 triangular pockets that allows to meet all our requirements of rigidity, resistance and low weight. ”

          • Duke:

            I can’t prove it but I doubt it. That major a change would require an certification test program.

            Boeing is still building 737 NG in the same plant as the MAX.

            Ideally you don’t do that but if you can make money there is no reason not to. But it does cost in low numbers (and keeping in mind a lot of the A330MRT conversions are used aircraft)

          • Boeing is still using a single set of old NG wing jigs to produce the adapted wing from the NG for the P-8. GE still makes the CFM56. I dont know about any FAA certification for the USN P-8

          • Duke:

            None was done, I continue to be puzzled by the civie certification for the KC-46A.

          • TransWorld
            December 1, 2023
            Boeing is still building 737 NG in the same plant as the MAX.

            AHHHHH No…. The P8 is built in a separate facility in Renton. The Assembly line is ITAR compliant, has security clearance requirements as well as a separate data repository than the Renton Facility… Same Airport, Different location at the airport.

            December 4, 2023

            None was done, I continue to be puzzled by the civie certification for the KC-46A.

            The idea behind the KC-46 having a civilian airplane certification is to compress the testing timeline. If the 767-2C was not certified, every component on the airplane would have to meet a MilSpec and be tested to it. By using a certified aircraft as a basis, all the parts coded COM are automatically acceptable based on their fleet usage. Imagine how long it would have taken to get all the FCU’s and Flight deck displays, and pumps, and jackscrews, and the RAT, and landing gear, and pitot static system, and yaw damper approved. It is an immense task shortened by tens of thousands of testing hours. Flight testing of a tanker from scratch is so much longer than taking an existing COM coded aircraft that has all the testing history on file. Remember that the KC46 is NOT FAA Certified, the 767-2c is. Its coded COM and not MIL. All the MIL coded parts are done thru the DOD and are delivered to the program as approved components. A way to think about the KC46 is that it is a COM coded airframe with a large pile of MIL coded parts added to it after the CofA is issued. Its actually a conversion of a 767 instead of a ground up MIL coded aircraft. Thats why its designated as a 767-2C and resides on the 767 TCDS.

          • The military didnt need to start from scartch to fully certify say KC-46 under their system. It would have used the existing airframe and engines cert as sufficient and only be interested in booms and drogues and the wirings etc.
            Lie the FAA and EASA can rely on each other, many other smaller countrys can allow commercial what FAA/EASA has approved, the USAF or USN military cert can crossover to what the FAA has approved. Maybe a small flight test program, who knows. Just as smaller other countries military depend on USAF or RAF or similar rtaher do it from scratch

        • @transworld

          Strictly speaking, it’s not the KC-46 that has civilian certification, but the 767-2C.

          • Not so. AS the USAF mandated all the military additions- booms and drogues- that make the change from 767-2C from Everett to a KC-46
            from Boeing Field plant be FAA certified as well.
            This was the cause of some grief as the contractor for these didnt maintain the audit trail

    • I’m not surprised the way you always stray off topic, just to stir up controversy.
      Well done !!
      Some things never change here;
      Unfortunately .

      • Indeed. Some folks simply like seeing their random musings posted on the internet.

        • Yep, this is old news and the FAA has been changing ing things since the MAX crashes and implement Congressionally mandated changes.

          So nothing new, just a repeat of what has been going on for quite a while now.

          You know better, clearly you think being sensationalist fulfills some need on your part.

          • Yep, and Reuters report was nonsense.

            We are given a brain and a way to use it to sort through the chaff from the wheat.

            I saw it pop up and read it and its a lot of nothing and repeating what happened in the past and has been going on mandate wise to the FAA that is in place as legislation.

          • Can’t you read?

            The first paragraph:
            “The Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday it had adopted a new aircraft certification policy requiring key flight control design changes to be considered “major” like the system involved in two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019.”

  12. Which customer will be the first to take delivery of the 777-9? Qatar? (Early 2025?) Not Emirates?? (Oct 2025?)

  13. And in other news, Boeing snags the Canadian Anti Sub Patrol aircraft contract with the P-8 contract.

    For all the doom and gloom on the defense side ignore the wildly successful F-15 line, the V-22, the Chinook, the AH-64 and the E-7.

    • F-15 – McDonnell Douglas
      V-22 – Bell
      Chinook – Vertol
      AH-64 – Hughes/McD
      E-7 – Yes, this is a BA product. All 14 of them, that have been built.

      • Harpoon
        Standard Arm
        United Launch Alliance

        All inherited MCDAC programs with a smattering of British Aerospace thrown in

        • Let me add to that:


          Boeing certainly grew it’s defense product portfolio through acquisitions; ; Hughes Satellite Systems; Hughes Helicopters minus the civilian helicopter line (which was divested as MD Helicopters); Piasecki Helicopter, subsequently known as Boeing Vertol and then Boeing Helicopters; the St. Louis–based McDonnell division of the former McDonnell Douglas Company; and the former North American Aviation division of Rockwell International.


          On a side note;

          So many companies that guys our age came to know through aviation & defense products got swallowed up, over the years;

          Republic Aviation
          North American

          and on & on….

          • And the point is?

            Boeing acquired Vertol before the Chinook went into production and can be given credit for it.

            Boeing has maintained all those projects no matter who did them originally so they get full credit if they are managed correctly. And for all the other issues those have been well managed and successful.

            Boeing is a full partner in the V-22 program and has been since the start.

    • With all these wonderful, widely successful products, was BDS making $ last quarter? Ĺast year? This year? Why??? Is BDS a charitable organization to give $ away? 😂

  14. This comment needed a new thread:

    November 30, 2023
    Frank P:

    Of course some lawmakers are pushing for a competition (absurd as that has been proven) because they are from Alabama. Standard politics.

    Airbus proved they can’t compete on price.



    Airbus has proven that they are not willing to lose $7 billion to secure a contract with the USAF.

    Boeing has proven they either:

    1) Cannot price their products accordingly


    2) Continually kick the can down the road, grabbing the cash up front and worrying about margins later.

    • Never heard of the A400M then. They did everything wrong with that contract structure. The new engine development was under the main contract- and included various levels absurdity within that. They required EASA civilian certification is spite of it being a unique military aircraft and not a cross over like the KC-46 or MRTT. Even Airbus calls it a mission impossible and yet….

      Every major business has these ….What were they thinking contracts.. Every one , just look back in the last year over all types of business with ‘sudden charges’ on the accounts

      • The A380 was a massive failure as well. 25 billion down the drain. The A340 was a failure.

        Boeing for all the mess up on the 787 is still making it and if they make it long enough, will recover that cost (they were paying the program down until the most recently found shim debacle.

        Where Boeing is in deficit is all the stock buy back and dividends which are a yardstick for management dropping the ball (or creating the dropped balls) that lead to all those issues.

        If you want to be successful you have to manage your business for the whole picture, not just stock holders and gutting the company.

        We will see in time if that lesson takes at Boeing.

        • From the 777X/787/737 MAX/ KC-46A/T-7/AF One to MQ-25, how much $$$ went down the drain? How much more to throw down the drain?? 😂

        • Funny no one mentions where did the A380 25 Billion go to? On whose books is it shown? Serious question.

          The A330 sales numbers saved the A340’s bacon. The successful A330 paid for the A340 R&D and then some.

          • Look up the difference between Airbus unit accounting and Boeing program accounting. Airbus ate the losses when they happened, no smoke and mirrors.

          • ‘Funny no one mentions where did the A380 25 Billion go to? On whose books is it shown? Serious question.’

            I guess I can do a little bit of financial research for you, but I’m not going to go through each year. This is from the 2018 annual:

            ‘In 2018, the Company’s largest A380 operator has reviewed
            its aircraft fleet strategy going forward and has concluded it is
            forced to restructure and reduce its A380 order by 39 aircraft.
            The Company entered into discussions with the customer
            in late 2018 which finally resulted in the signature of a head
            of agreement on 11 February 2019. Without this customer’s
            A380 order, the Company has no substantial order backlog
            and no basis to sustain A380 production, despite all sales and
            marketing efforts in recent years. As a consequence of this
            decision, deliveries of the A380 will cease in 2021.

            At year-end 2018, in view of the above, the Company has
            reassessed accordingly the expected market assumptions and
            the recoverability and depreciation method of specific assets
            allocated to the A380 programme. As a result, the Company
            has impaired specific A380 assets in the amount of €167 million,
            recognised an onerous contract provision for an amount of
            € 1,257 million and updated the measurement of refundable
            advances including interest accretion for a total amount of
            € 1,426 million. ‘


            Nothing funny about it. In 2018 AB put on it’s big boy pants, took the hit from that year and moved on.

            Still managed to report an EBIT of 4.3 billion Euros for the year.

          • Stealth66 -“Airbus unit accounting and Boeing program accounting. Airbus ate the losses when they happened, no smoke and mirrors.”

            Airbus uses program accounting for its new airliner programs and associated launch orders.
            Thats real smoke and real mirrors as its not clear when it stops

            Bjorn told us this maybe a year back and the reasons are because of the high development and entry into service costs plus special pricing for launch customers – which might happen over many years

          • @duke

            The A350 was the first and only time Airbus used program accounting for initial production of a frame. The information is available for those willing to find it.

          • @Duke

            Airbus used contract accounting, which differs from program accounting.

            In program accounting, costs are estimated for the entire production run and allocated based on that number.

            In contract accounting, you use a few contracts in the first couple of years and allocate expenses based on them.

            It’s all right here:


            ‘Airbus does not want to show these losses for 2015 and 2016. It plans to smear it out using “contract accounting,” which can be labeled as a mini version of Boeing’s program accounting. Instead of spreading the production costs over a complete aircraft program (accounting block), the cost of producing A350 is spread over customer contracts for the first customers. We use an example to show the results of this spreading of the production costs during 2015-2018.’

          • Frank thanks for that . LNA says its just a different name in Europe – ‘contract accounting’
            “Is the end of program accounting, the staple of The Boeing Co. profit and loss reporting, on its way out?
            It is in Europe, where it is called contract accounting, the end of its use is required by January 1, 2018. (LNC’s Bjorn Fehrm has talked about contract accounting in the past.) Companies have the option to eliminate it in 2017.”
            So no virtue for Airbus in only using program/contract accounting for a limited time. But who knows what dodges they come up with in the real HQ of Airbus , the Dutch city of Leiden, an EU country where tax doges are endemic like Ireland

            However Boeing has for a decade of so listed unit accounting and program accounting numbers side by in its financial reports . Financial people can take their choice. Airbus doesnt/didnt separate them out like that so was less transparent .

            Also Airbus doesnt separate out its airliner models financial numbers like Boeing does, its just all its commercial models amalgamated.

            Then there is the orders, where Airbus uses European ‘fluffy cloud’ method to keep questionable orders on the books which Boeing has to remove them under US stricter rules

        • Airbus is making money while Boeing makes losses. Can anyone remember the last time Boeing made a profit?

          • Not to worry: Boing’s Space and Defense divisions’ losses will more than cover BCA’s losses. That makes sense, right?

            “Here at Boing we make our losses up in volume.”

          • Well I wished I had coined this one but it was a fellow worker, one of the best of all times and described our company to a T.

            “We do it right because we do it twice!”

            Thank you Mr. Fitch. And boy did the management hate it when we would say that.

        • So were the 757-300 and 767-400, both companies have had their share of misses!

      • Yet Airbus continues to make profits that Boeing can’t remember making.

      • @dukeofurl

        Boeing doesn’t remove “dodgy” orders from its backlog, it simply flags them in the ASC 606 list. They’re still all listed in the outstanding orders lists.

        You really seem to have an issue when it comes to profit-making Airbus vs loss-making Boeing.

        • So whats the Airbus orders that are ‘low grade /unikely ‘ ?

          Its 10% of Boeings , I would bet money its 15% of Airbus ‘unfilled’ orders. So who is being transparent here ?

          No information broken down by model line either , eg A320/321 , A220 , A330, A350
          We know the financial ‘headwinds’ for the B787 program from this

          Did Airbus ever spell out the total A380 writeoff -other than 2019 436 mill euros in 2019 – ROFL -or even if its still on the books while Airlines are flying them …. actually still a very popular plane with customers.
          Or does the $4.2 bill of launch aid for the A380 make Airbus books ‘profitable’ as they hide those repayments over 25 years , if ever

          • Your anti-Arbus rants are amusing, as is your estimate.

            You seem to think that Airbus operates in a regulatory vacuum. You can read the financial reports and all will be revealed. Airbus reports the actual value of its backlog (not list price) per IFRS rules and must exclude orders that it doesn’t believe will be fulfilled .

            As an example, a reasonable assumption would be that Iran Air’s outstanding orders will be excluded from the reported backlog value. Just as Boeing is under no obligation to reveal which customers orders it’s flagged under ASC 606, Airbus is not required to reveal which orders are excluded from backlog value under IFRS.

            They are two different companies operating under different sets of regulations. I’m really not sure what your beef is.

          • I have no beef with Airbus’s fine planes. I a fan of the little A220 and the big A380.
            Boeings accounting is fine you said it hid things or wasnt transparent – all the while not knowing they have program/unit accounting financial reports for a decade or more .
            Since you seem to rely on the financials at Airbus, tell us what was the total writedowns on A380 from said reports.
            Ive found 436 mill euros…. must be others , and does it come close to the actual losses since 2005 under unit accounting.
            Thats fine if Airbus wants to obscure its individual airliner model finances , but call it for what it is.
            A smokescreen

          • @Dukeofurl

            No manufacturer breaks down their financials by individual models. One-off impairments and write-offs for specific programs will be identified as such (e.g. VC-25B, 787, etc.), but you won’t see P&L accounts for specific models. Boeing doesn’t do it, why do you expect Airbus to do it?

  15. It’s December, has BCA resumed delivery to China? Or let’s hold our breath for another month?? Delivery would be a prerequisite for any new order, if any, to come. Right?

    • > It’s December, has BCA resumed delivery to China? <

      Any day now, Bro 😉 Is there evidence that "China needs Boeing"- or is that wishful thinking?

      • Adding: I can imagine a scenario where a Chinese entity buys the remnants of the once-proud Boing for nickels on the dollar- with quite a few Western palms being
        greased in the process; just to smooth things along, you understand. 😉


        • Until, the US government makes it clear to the Chinese it will not stop western parts (e.g. engines and composite material) and mfg. technologies (composites) to go China for their commercial aircraft programs (e.g. C919 and C929), why should the Chinese order more Boeing aircraft

          Its been 7 years since the last China order for Boeing (e.g. 2017) China already has it plan B in action with developing commercial engines and composite materials.

          China is the second largest economy in the world (see chart) They have the means to work around Boeing aircraft


          • Good morning David.
            You are correct. China will at some point in the future own this industry because they put the nations effort behind it. The Wests response to China’s rise in Aerospace is one built on Anglo European Arrogance. I am among they few that understand the path China is on. I was a Production Planner when we kitted 50 MD80s and shipped them to China. That was the day our industry was lost because since then, there has been an inexorable Chinese move forward to become self sustaining in Transport Category Aircraft. The Chinese are not clowns, they are good solid creators of Airplanes. Their problem today is depth of talent. They are solving that by educating their workforce. They missed out on the opportunities brought on by major wars to create those workers and Engineers. But that’s being fixed. Western commenters here pooh pooh their current jets as ineffecient laggards underperforming the best the west builds. Those short term minded people completely miss the fact that its almost miraculous when a new model fly’s anywhere in the world.

            We can say “look, we are ahead, they will never catch us”. That may be the way it looks today, but every day they close the gap, eventually they will have an airplane that is good enough and cheap enough to win sales. The laws of diminishing returns favor China. The west is running out of easy ways to stay ahead and China is closing faster as the West has few options to make meaningful advances without a revolution in engines. Its not an If, its a When. It pains me to see my industry set to die a slow death, but that’s what is going to happen. Geopolitics may give western makers added longevity, but ultimately, the Chinese are the future, if they decide that’s what they wish to do. God smiled on my career and allowed me to get out on top.

          • Scott
            I can relate to your story I was working for a company that supplied automatic riveting/fastening machines to China for the MD 80 trunkliner program But that said, the first western automatic riveting machine was sold to Xian back in 1985 to produce 747 wing flap (e.g. informal offset program Boeing and China) Buy 747s and get production work in return

          • Business leadership loves to set-up manufacturing in foreign countries, preferably dictatorships. Integrated circuits, auto parts, textiles. Right now they’re working on aerospace and food. Where were your Oreos made? Hey, it’s either that or pay living wages…

          • Scott C:

            Your comments reflect a great deal of knowledge and experience as well as logical thought, so this is not a dig at you. My career has been on the edge of aviation, not actively involved in creating it like you have.

            That said, I disagree on China trajectory in regards to aircraft. There is no question that the Chinese people are as capable as any on the planet including Western countries.

            I believe you have to break the China situation into a couple different tracks to come up with an analysis that is future looking overall (details will vary).

            First and foremost the Chinese Aviation industry is government owned. If a government entity is anything its risk adverse. Put tht into the context of a system that will throw you in prison on a whim (tick off the wrong person or make a mistake) and you do not get creativity. You get slow plodding cover all the bases.

            Throw in that aircraft are once in 30 year projects (I think that is pretty fair). They are not fast iterations (unless it is military like the US was in the 50s with lots of low production aircraft, China is doing the same on their side). But that is not a public face enterprise and losses are accepted and risk is encouraged.

            Crash a civilian aircraft and its not the mfg, its the Chinese government that is the face of the disaster (note that the 787-800 that went down in China has still not had its details revealed because it was pilot suicide and that is a Boeing aircraft involved)

            I suspect the C919 is a decent enough aircraft. I also suspect its overweight as risk adverse means don’t get close to the margins. What it is not is cutting edge. China has had the MD-80, the A320 and the ARJ21 to see what conventional is.

            They just went with that form because its what they know and they know its safe. The slow plodding into service and low production for the next 10 years tells you that they simply are not going to risk anything in even a ramp up let alone something that is current or advanced tech.

            The C919 hull is Chinese, the rest is Western. They will slowly work their way to replacing equipment but how long will that take to duplicate current and the rest of the world moves apace?

            They gave up getting the C919 as recognized certification workign with the FAA. They could not correct the process mess they had and just quit (EASA tried and quietly went home. )

            The 929 was going to use Russian tech (oddly the Russians have some advanced methods in curing CFRP out of auto clave). It got hung up on China wanted the tech but not share the program and now its kaput.

            China will eventually sell some to countries under their thumb and or desperate, but countries that do require recognized certification will not let them fly into their country.

            The other problem is the cost of an aircraft program. Only Boeing, Airbus and possibly Embraer are big enough and capable enough private companies to do that.

            The other route is government either owning it entirely (Russian and China) or a quasi support like BBD and we saw the C series fail going into production with a really good design. As Bjorn noted, that where they fail in ramp up.

            The other aspect is how you get your tech. Right now China is stealing a lot of it. So you have either people that only follow recipes or reverse engineer types (did they get the IP and process of just an example).

            China’s best aircraft tech is in engines for the military that will morph down to the C919 at some point, but they went the copy route and you may get a shape but all the steps that went into making that shape work the way it should are missing.

            In those areas the government does not have its thumb in and on, you can get invocation. Something like a cell phone that has a fast iteration rate you can make mistakes with and fix it on the next one. I saw that when South Korea took over VCRs. 3 months latter your SAMS was out of date as the boards had changed completely.

            The C919 should have had a composite wing. Safe and known was aluminum and that is what they went with.

            Boeing is rightly fully chastised for their messed up management, but the last new aircraft was a full on leap into CRFP and that was successful.

          • TransWorld
            December 3, 2023
            Scott C:

            Your comments reflect a great deal of knowledge and experience as well as logical thought, so this is not a dig at you.

            None taken at all…….

            That said, I disagree on China trajectory in regards to aircraft. There is no question that the Chinese people are as capable as any on the planet including Western countries.

            Throw in that aircraft are once in 30 year projects (I think that is pretty fair).

            THAT is a big point I am making. The Chinese iterative process is running way under 30 years per program. MD80, ARJ21, Comac 919, Xian MA60, Xian MA600 have all delivered, The Xian Ma700 is thought to have flown already. The MA700 is FBW…. You cant look at this proliferation of commercial aircraft, all done within the last 30 years and the bulk of them in the past 12 to 15 years and not be incredibly impressed with what the risk averse state industry has accomplished. As far as the Comac 919 “should have been carbon winged” I ask why? The A320 and 737 are flying metal and are really quite good in SFC. Their military transports that cross pollinate include the Xian Y20 begun in 2007 and first flown in 2013, a nicely executed timeline. It used MBD in the design build process and that knowledge is moving thru the Chinese aviation industry. The Shaanxi Y9 done back in the 2002 ish period with a 2010 first flight is a real competitor to the C130 and they built over 100 of them. The Chinese are for real………..

          • TransWorld
            December 3, 2023
            Scott C:

            The other aspect is how you get your tech. Right now China is stealing a lot of it. So you have either people that only follow recipes or reverse engineer types (did they get the IP and process of just an example).

            I wanted to address this separately as it is really important.

            Yes they swipe stuff as a matter of course. Industrial Espionage occurs everywhere, supposedly to a lesser degree. Everybody does it, and pointing to the Chinese because they do a better job stealing stuff than we do is a very hollow argument. There are stories, many confirmed, about how Catia/Enovia had a back door and the Dassault guys could look at anything anywhere they wished, its supposedly closed, but who knows for sure with software that complicated. Understanding that, there is a very quiet Chinese program to acquire licenses for up and coming technology. Take for instance the LFTR, the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. There was a US development program that built a Proof of concept reactor years ago, and the Chinese have licensed every piece of the IP for it from the US Nuke Reg Comm. They are building a big one now, and it is probably the future of clean energy…… The Chinese are very resourceful and go to great lengths to solve their needs with little of the turf wars we seem to always fight……

          • Scott C:

            I see the difference of what we are looking at.

            From my view it is selling viable commercial aircraft into an International Market.

            On the MD-80 and the A320 China does what it does best and that is get a support system built. Flip is the production methods went with the programs. That is a copying system that over time has turned into a supply system (at least for the A320)

            In the context of what I am looking at, I don’t see a Turbo Prop project leading to anything sales wise. Cost is the only driver in that market and its now down to one entrant (ATR). Agreed there are various Twin Otter types but again those are small projects and sales.

            The ARJ21 was their first shot at an international market. It also was supposed to have recognized certification (I know you know but for a definition of that, EASA and the FAA are the templates used by all, so they are the source cited). In the ARJ21 case, the FAA worked with them but it was so far down the road that the FAA simply said we can’t untangle this (call it the Mitsubishi syndrome).

            So after a lengthy process they got something that is a cross between a large business jet and a regional aircraft in a tail engine configuration that is limited to BJ now. It took 14 years for it to get into service with a dated MD type design.

            The C919 also took 14 years.

            What I am looking at is comparison to a new aircraft and the A220 is a direct example. Both started in 2008 and the 220 has a composite wing.

            And in that, its what I am contending that at least a composite wing would be state of the art and China choose not to develop that but went with the aluminum wing. You can get a significant though not world changing improvement on performance with a composite wing vs an aluminum one. Currently the MAX matches the A320, both are aluminum wings of course but the MAX is in 3rd iteration of the 737 wing to do so.

            And I have nothing against aluminum wings but if you are going to compete you need to have an aircraft that has the performance to be superior. Instead China choose to go with the safe last generation aluminum wing. If Airbus re-wings the A321, it won’t be an aluminum wing. Tubes are tubes but the real difference is in the wing.

            Russia saw the future and developed the tech to have an advanced offering with a composite wing and out of auto clave curing (as sad as the whole situation is with things now in that regard).

            China wanted that Russian tech, but they did not want to develop their own, ergo the mis-fated marriage that was the C929. I think it always was going to fail, China’s view was, you supply the stuff to us and we will get the glory (and duplicate the tech if they could).

            So while you can start a lot of projects in parallel or even staggered, making strides in a competitive product requires innovation. There are areas China has been competitive (Huawei) but that looks to be a private/government marriage.

            And of course the other huge issue is being able to support an aircraft program with international customers which is what China wants. That means training, maint, spare parts and world wide response. I don’t see any of that or the realization of you need it and doing it.

            Its a strange tangle as the first step would have been to get recognized certification (and for others, China has an internal certification, its not recognized internationally and oddly enough, Russia prior to the Ukraine tragedy did have it, they could build aircrat that met the internationally reorganized certification)

            So you have a probably decent enough aircraft that you can’t sell to say, Belize. And if Belize took it, they could not fly it to Brazil as Brazil is linked into the international system of certification and the C919 did not meet that (or even close, EASA took a pass at it as well and quietly went home).

            As I understand it the FAA tried hard but the Chinese were charging ahead and not doing the processes needed and eventually it was a mess no one could untangle.

            The C919 may be safe, but China does not have the process and documentation to prove it and that is what certification is all about (and what Boeing has been struggling with as the FAA has clamped down after having got lax over the years).

            China has done some impressive infrastructure project (I will be interested to see how well they stand up). But as long as they follow their current path, they won’t be the leader in Aviation they think they can and should be.

          • Scott C:

            In regards to the copy and theft aspects, I know other countries do it, I think it harder for the US as they have to feed into mostly public companies and I don’t see that being kept secret though if its national defense related I suspect they can firewall it.

            China is the biggest and it includes insiduaou buying of companies to get their tech and then its gone to China.

            I know you know but many do not know that the biggest secrets are not patents but IP.

            To make a jet engine fan blade, its not just what metals go into it and poured.

            Its how metals are treated prior and going into production, as well as the method of forming the blades (be it poured or printed). Those treatments are not simple and there are wide range of parameters withing those as far as time, heat of treat etc.

            You can get a fan blade and analysis it, but what you see is the materials and its current hardness, not how it got there. Reverse engineering is virtually impossible. You have to understand what you want and then work out methods to get it there.

            And that is where stolen IP comes in as it gives you the recipe used to get that.

            Agreed its gone on forever but usually you can be ahead of that but when its government controlled and directed it gets to be quickly a national security threat.

          • Haha the certification issue looks little more than a fig leaf.

            During the cold war, Aeroflot had no problem to fly Russian-made aircraft to Japan, Europe, Canada and the U.S.
            Though I’m not old enough but at least I’m open-minded enough to know that, not that long ago, Pan Am sold tickets flew on IL-62s departing NYC, AF and JAL wet-leased Aeroflot Il-62s and KLM operated nine IL-62 for the Amsterdam and Moscow route. JAL also flew Tu-114s from 1967.

            It’s not a sale but what’s the difference in substance?

    • Well, those 40% pay hikes to pilots are effecting pricing. I was pricing a flight to Rome Italy (east coast connecting thru JFK) economy with seat selection, pricing $1,800 to $2,200 (10 months from flight) per person RT. I cancelled my cruise from Italy, when the airfare costs more than balcony cabin for two for 10 days cruise, something is wrong

      • David P:

        Actually as painful as it is, something is right. Supply and demand has kicked in as much as it pains you as well as others.

        Prices will go up until the demand drops off and then there will be a drop.

        I am somewhat insulated as I only travel once or twice a year (and not at all in the last 3 years though I did fly twice this year). And our flying is US only.

    • Not good. Financialization and its consequent movement toward monopoly continues

      Learn quickly to say “I Love, Love Fascism!”

      • Vicente:

        That is way overboard. Alaska Airlines is what 6th biggest in the US and I don’t even know what Hawaiian is.

        Fascism is people getting lined up and shot not a merger of two smaller operations.

      • 18 x 21 A321NEO

        24 x A330-300 being replaced by 787s (9 going to Amazon Prime and operated by Hawaiian Airlines)

        • Correcting myself here as well, David is correct that the Airbus A330 are 200 version not the 300 as I stated.

        • Sorry, what’s that “9 going to Amazon Prime”??
          9 x 787? What do you mean? 🙄

          • HA will operate nine A330 freighters for Amazon.

          • But the A330s are converted freighters from Amazon. Like other contractors, HA will provide the crew.

          • Pedro: Thank you, that clears up my brain zark.

            I thought they were 300s and that makes sense for the bulk needed.

            I had forgotten it was not Hawaiian A330-200 and flipped it around in my mind.

            That is another interest factors as the 787s will be coming on and Hawaiian has to provide crew for both those of course and the Prime A330s.

            Lot in motion there.

        • Pedro:

          Its often been pondered why AK Airlines does not fly wide body as they have extensive traffic on the Anchorage Seattle corridor (Alaskan are the world biggest travelers per capita)

          But by air that route is 1500 miles and Alaska offers departures around the clock.

          I have to assume that works for them business wise and clearly a single aisle is more economical than a wide body.

          I don’t know that any mainland AK routes support a wide body.

          I think Hawaiian flies some routes via A330 to the Mainland. Denver maybe.

          • “Its often been pondered why AK Airlines does not fly wide body as they have extensive traffic on the Anchorage Seattle corridor.”
            Doubtful. 😂

            “I don’t know that any mainland AK routes support a wide body.”
            I’m thinking transcontinental. Give it a year or two to see how it pan out.

  16. Add in that Hawaiian has 717-200 and what they will replace them with down the line ? Does Hawaiian have a scope clause? (I would guess not but…) Obvious candidates are E2 or C220-100.

    Of those 24 A330-300s, 9 are destined for Amazon Prime (have to see how that shakes out in the discussions). One of the A330-300s has been converted.

    This is so far out of Alaska Airlines wheelhouse. Not sure how it works out competing wise on Hawaiians intentional flights.

    • Alaska may be willing to let that Amazon deal go. A struggling Hawaiian airlines made that deal.

  17. A good synopsis by New York Times


    While I don’t expect it, back in the days of Western Airlines they had a DC-10 flight to Hawaii from Anchorage. You could bring two boxes of pineapples or another fruit (mango?) that was latter reduced to one box for free.

    State of Alaska was awash in Pineapples and (Mango?) as if you did not want one or the other or both you had friends who did!

    It would be cool to get A330 and latter 787 flights back..

  18. Reuters:
    Breeze is seeking flag carrier approval from the FAA that would allow it to expand to international destinations, according to its Chief Executive David Neeleman.

  19. NyTimes/SeattleTimes: Drunk and asleep on the job: Air traffic controllers pushed to the brink

      • @Pedro, I’m unaware of FAA subsidies; what I am aware of is a NASA contract. You might be thinking of this.


          • Pedro…..
            NASA publishes all its research results for any US based Company and licenses the research results to any foreign entity. Its been that way for years. NASA is primarily a research organisation and its charter is to investigate potential innovations for industry. Your premise that its just for Boeing is completely bogus as airbus does have an access path to the data

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