KC-30 MRTT refuels fighters through boom, drogues

EADS released these photos of the KC-30 MRTT refueling fighters. The company previously released photos of refueling as viewed through the 3D controller’s panel video screen. The MRTT has now “passed gas” (as we like to say, much to the consternation of the more straight-laced crowd) through the new flying boom from the MRTT.

Source: EADS North America

These delayed tests have been the target of much criticism from Boeing supporters, who pointed out that EADS has been delayed in meeting milestones for the Royal Australian Air Force deliveries, which are now 18 months late. About six months of the delay was due to customer change-order requests.

USAirways defers Airbuses; may help in United competition

US Airways early this morning announced it has deferred deliveries of 54 Airbus wide- and narrow-body airplanes from 2010 to 2013 and beyond, including the A350 from 2015 to 2017.

While a blow to Airbus on the one hand, it could help the company win the order on at United Airlines on the other.

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KC-767 to benefit from 787 “surge” line

Key points:

  • The ability to increase production rates to sell more 767s in the coming years;
  • Lower production costs, which will be built into the KC-X bid in the hot competition with the expected Northrop Grumman KC-30 submission.

Boeing’s proposed KC-767 refueling tanker will benefit from plans to establish a surge production line for the 787 program.

The connection is not obvious, for Boeing didn’t suggest as much when it announced that Charleston (SC) will be the location for the second 787 production line. As Line 2 is being established, Boeing will put a “surge” 787 line in Everett (WA), where Line 1 is located. The surge line will be in the forward bay where the 767 line is, requiring relocating the 767 line to the aft part of the bay.

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Fly By Wire: US Airways 1549

We’ve just finished reading “Fly By Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson,” by William Langewiesche.

It’s about US Airways 1549, the Airbus A320 pilot by Chelsey Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles, forced to make an emergency landing in New York City’s Hudson River last January 15.

We’ve also been reading the reviews and reaction to the book, including Sullenberger’s reaction. We wonder if we’ve been reading the same book as the critics, who dispute the contribution the A320’s fly-by-wire system made to the safe landing.

To read the critics’ response, including Sullenberger, one would think Langwieche gave all the credit to the A320 for the safe landing and none to the flight crew. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Tanker DRFP may violate law: former procurement official

Inside Defense, a subscription-only publication, today reported that a former defense procurement official believes the current KC-X tanker Draft RFP may violate the law. Here is what Inside Defense sent out in the public domain:

Former Top Procurement Official Questions KC-X Compliance with New Acquisition Law

The Pentagon’s solicitation for the KC-X aerial refueling competition is inconsistent with the 2009 Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act and may violate the law, according to a former top federal procurement officer.

That critique, by Robert Burton, a former deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement and Defense Department veteran, comes as a powerful lawmaker and a key architect of the recently enacted weapon systems acquisition reform law — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — is raising questions about whether the KC-X draft request for proposals, issued on Sept. 25, complies with the new act.

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Boeing to build 737 into 2020s: Bair

The Renton (WA) Reporter has this story that Boeing will continue to build the 737 into the 2020 decade, further extending the timeline for a replacement aircraft, says Mike Bair, vice president of Business Strategy and Marketing for the company.

This is highly significant on a number of levels. First, it tends to match the timeline Airbus has already foretold about a replacement for the A320 about 2024. Neither company can really afford to undertake yet another new airplane program, given the cost overruns and customer penalties for their respective A380, A400M, 787 and 747-8 programs. Airbus is also engaged in R&D for the A350, with a price tag of roughly $15bn. With engineering and production resources stretched already, there simply are limitations for Airbus on taking on an entirely new development program.

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Prediction: Boeing offers KC-767

Update: Defense News just published this article detailing the continuing problems Boeing has with the KC-767 Italian tanker, including the centerline hose-and-drogue problems we previously exclusively revealed in this column.

Original Post:

With Boeing and Northrop Grumman still in the Q&A stage with the USAF in advance of a Final Request for Proposals in the KC-X competition, we predict that Boeing will offer the KC-767 and not the KC-777.

Here’s why:

Updating the KC-X competition

Update: The Mobile Press Register has this story saying that the USAF won’t include the WTO dispute in the KC-X competition because WTO rules prohibit doing so while the case is pending–something we’ve been telling the doggone politicians since they started their campaign to include it.

Original Post:

While the drama over the 787 Line 2 siting dominated the news last week, there was some stuff happening on the KC-X tanker front.

Boeing released this video about its tanker program. Note that KC-767 is shown with winglets, which in airline service are improving fuel burn by more than 4%.


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US questions China aviation subsidies

Here is a story we wrote for Commercial Aviation Online October 26:

The US Trade Representative (USTR) has filed a series of questions with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over national, multi-industry state subsidies in China, including the development of the China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) ARJ21 and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. (COMAC) C919, the first serious challenges by China to Western airliners.

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