Union asks Congress to intervene in Boeing inspection issue

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By Bryan Corliss

April 15, 2019, © Leeham News: As Boeing faces federal investigations, shareholder lawsuits, Congressional hearings – and possibly subpoenas – linked to the 737 MAX crashes, another issue flying low on the radar could further complicate the company’s relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration and the elected officials who oversee it.

The issue revolves around the company’s plan to end quality control inspections for several thousand tasks performed by Boeing mechanics in the factory.

That plan – first reported by The Seattle Times in January – involves the use of more “smart tools” to perform work more precisely so that inspections will no longer be required for thousands of tasks. Instead of doing quality checks 100% of the time, as Boeing inspectors have been doing for generations, inspectors will sample 1-in-100 tasks, or maybe less, Boeing executives told the newspaper.

Now, the union for inspectors whose work is going away is asking its influential supporters in Congress to intervene with the FAA. It wants a chance to show the agency data it says proves that the new process will lead to more downstream rework on the assembly line, more injured workers and more production delays.

Summary
  • Borrowing from the auto business
  • Union says bad decisions put deliveries at risk
  • Boeing says new system brings down defects
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Pontifications: I don’t know what to make of this

By Scott Hamilton

April 1, 2019, © Leeham News: One can’t help but think, a lot, about the two Boeing 737 MAX crashes and the facts that Boeing created the system, linked it to one sensor, not two, didn’t tell the airlines pilots about it, didn’t include it in pilot manuals, didn’t have a safety alert system as standard equipment, initially blamed the Lion Air pilots and reportedly lobbied Donald Trump not to ground the airplanes.

But my thoughts haven’t stopped here.

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2019 Outlook: Boeing’s decision on NMA is the headline to watch

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Introduction

Dec. 21, 2018, © Leeham News: It is a stretch to say 2019 is a pivotal year for Boeing.

There would have to be events of tsunami proportions to be pivotal for a company with revenues of more than $90bn.

But there is no doubt 2019 will be a very important year for Boeing.

Summary
  • The headline to watch will be the widely anticipated launch of the New Midmarket Aircraft, also called the 797.
  • The 777X begins flight testing next year. Sales are stalled for the newest airplane of the Boeing family.
  • The proposed new joint venture between Boeing and Embraer is expected to be consummated by the end of the year.

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Tanker wars may be back

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Introduction

Dec. 10, 2018, © Leeham News: The tanker wars may be back.

Airbus has teamed with Lockheed Martin to offer the Airbus A330-200MRTT to the Pentagon in a for-hire business model. The agreement also provides the prospect of “conceptualizing the tanker of the future.” (The press release is here.)

From 2001-2011, the US Air Force, Pentagon and even Congress were embroiled in controversy over recapitalization of the USAF aerial refueling tanker fleet.

The KC-135s, based on the Boeing 707, were aging, expensive to maintain and outdated.

After 9/11, Boeing proposed leasing 100 tankers based on the 767-200ER to the USAF. A scandal surrounding the USAF approval of this deal sent the air force’s procurement office and Boeing’s CFO to jail and resulted in the resignation of CEO Phil Condit. The lease deal was canceled.

Summary
  • Three rounds of tanker procurement were filled with improprieties, bitter charges and counter charges.
  • Boeing currently has a contract for 52 KC-46A tankers out of an initial procurement of 179.
  • The air force sees a need for 100 more tankers on an accelerated timeline.
  • Fee-based refueling is not unknown to the Pentagon.

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Boeing cash flows generously, KC-46A snarfs up some of it

By Dan Catchpole

 July 25, 2018, © Leeham News: The cash keeps flowing at Boeing. The aerospace giant posted free cash flow of $4.3bn for the second quarter of the year, despite recording $426m in costs related to its delay-ridden KC-46 tanker program.

Despite posting strong earnings, the charge rattled investors, who drove Boeing’s share price down in early trading Wednesday.

Boeing continues to work on closing the business case for its New Midsize Airplane (NMA), a business case unlike any the company has done before, Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said in a conference call with reporters and investment analysts.

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Boeing eyes international sales with KC-46A deliveries near

Part 2. LNC visited the Boeing KC-46A Everett Modification Center last month. Part 1 appears here.

July 5, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing’s contract with the US Air Force for three dozen KC-46A tankers is but the tip of the iceberg.

Installing the refueling boom on a KC-46A tanker at the Everett Modification Center. Boeing photo.

The USAF’s initial plan is to acquire 179 KC-46As, which was part of the KC-X tanker competition Boeing won after a bitter contest with Airbus and the competing KC-30/KC-330 airplane, based on the commercial A330-200. (For simplicity, LNC will refer to the Airbus as the KC-30.)

There are more than 400 ancient Boeing KC-135s that have to be replaced. Boeing figures it will eventually see the initial 179 aircraft requirement expanded to cover the balance of the KC-135s, although due to budget constraints, last year there were reports the procurement will stop and 179 and the KC-135s will be upgraded.

Then there is the international market. Airbus so far is far and away the winner in this sector. It’s sold 57 to eight customers (including NATO); 29 are in operation. The first one entered service in 2011.

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One Boeing, lessons learned from P-8, KC-767 find their way in KC-46A

Part 1. Part 2 will appear July 5.

Boeing KC-46As in the Everett Modification Center for military systems installation. Photo by Scott Hamilton.

July 3, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing’s development of the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker for the US Air Force is behind schedule and over budget, but production is underway and 34 tankers have been built.

Deliveries are running more than a year behind the original schedule. Boeing is already in production on a fourth tranche of tankers even before the next contract is signed, which is expected this summer.

Finally, after several delays, Boeing and the USAF announced the first tankers will be delivered in October, about 18 months behind schedule.

“In partnership with the U.S. Air Force, our team has made great progress on the KC-46 Tanker,” Boeing said in a statement. “With first delivery now set, the men and women of the Air Force know when they will start receiving this warfighting capability. The KC-46 is a top priority for The Boeing Company, and we have the best of Boeing working to ensure the U.S. Air Force gets their tankers as quickly as possible.”

LNC visited the Everett Modification Center (EMC) this month, speaking with officials of the program, who explained progress on the tanker line.

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Southern state coalition bid likely for Boeing NMA assembly site

June 27, 2018, © Leeham News: A coalition of four Southern US states that joined to win the US Air Force tanker contact site location for Mobile (AL) will likely link up again to bid for the assembly line of the prospective Boeing New Midmarket Aircraft, officials of three of the states said yesterday.

The Aerospace Alliance includes Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

An official of an economic development commission for Charleston (SC) said Charleston will also likely throw its hat into the ring.

The comments were made at the Leeham Co./Airfinance Journal Southeast Aerospace & Defence Conference yesterday in Mobile. The conference continues today.

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Pontifications: Honoring John McCain

By Scott Hamilton

May 28, 2018, © Leeham News: Today is Memorial Day in the USA, the holiday which honors US Armed Forces who died in active military service.

It seems fitting today to think about US Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who is dying of the same brain cancer that took the life of Sen. Edward Kennedy.

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Hawaiian orders 787, cancels A330-800; Embraer ponder electric plane, not a jet

March 6, 23018 © Leeham Co.: It’s official: Boeing and Hawaiian Airlines announced an order for 10+10 787-9s. It’s a letter of intent and purchase rights.

The airline also confirmed it canceled an order for six Airbus A330-800s.

 

LNC was the first to report the transactions Feb. 20.

Separately, Embraer confirmed it’s looking at an airplane smaller than the E175, but denied a report originating in another media that it’s a small jet.

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