ASDF’s in-flight refueling plane damaged during checkup at base
NAGOYA, May 21 KYODO
An in-flight refueling airplane sustained damage and was unable to fly in early March during a checkup shortly after it was deployed in late February as Japan’s first plane of its kind at an Air Self-Defense Force base in Komaki, Aichi Prefecture, base officials said Wednesday.
The engine covers on both wings of the KC-767 tanker were damaged March 5 as leading edge flaps on the wings suddenly lowered when a worker was checking the plane in a hangar at the base.
An ASDF member who was in the cockpit said the slats lowered after the electrical system for the slats suddenly came on when the officer was replacing an electric bulb for the hydraulic pump switch, they said.
The base suspects there was some operation error behind the incident.
Two KC-767s, jets developed based on the Boeing 767, have been deployed at the base and were involved in test flights. They are scheduled to be put into full operation in late fiscal 2009, which ends in March 2010.
In-flight refueling planes help to extend the flight range of fighters.
May 21, 2008 12:19:15
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports today that Boeing plans to double production on the 767 line to accommodate airlines affected by the delays in the 787 program. We reported this back on April 15.
The P-I reports production will double to two a month sometime next year. We reported that the boost would come in 2010 and could be a doubling to 24 a year or even somewhat higher, to 27-30 a year.
We’ve also reported that lessor Aircastle may swap some Airbus A330-200F positions for A330 passenger slots to take advantage of 787 delays. We can now report that lessors Intrepid Aviation and Guggenheim are also thinking of swapping out early A330F slots for A330P positions, adding to their orders for A330s instead of a pure swap. Additional freighter orders would be placed with early positions being switched to the passenger model.
We’ll have more details in an update of our Corporate Website later today, delayed so we can include information from Boeing’s investors day conference this morning.
US Sen. Patty Murray (D-Boeing) faced off with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates over the USAF contract award of the KC-45A to Northrop Grumman. Northwest Cable News of Seattle has this good report, along with video.
Update, 9PM PDT Tuesday: Here’s another take on the same story from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Guy Norris, one of the best aerospace reporters in the world, reports in the current issue of Aviation Week that Boeing has given up on its current round of efforts to design a successor to the 737.
According to Norris and co-author Robert Wall, Boeing is going back to the drawing board because technology is not there yet for a replacement.
The full story may be found here. It’s a great read.
It generated a lot of headlines at the time of the USAF aerial tanker contract award to Northrop Grumman when it was revealed that a campaign adviser to Republican presidential candidate US Sen. John McCain one time had EADS as a client.
EADS, of course, is partnered with Northrop to offer the KC-30 tanker to the USAF. EADS is parent of Boeing’s arch-enemy, Airbus, and the KC-30 is based on the commercial A330-200 which essentially put Boeing’s 767 commercial airliner out of business. Boeing’s KC-767 is based on the commercial 767-200, with parts from the 767-300 and 767-400.
After Boeing lost the tanker award, critics of the decision blamed McCain for the loss, a position we find preposterous, but that’s neither here nor there. When it was discovered that a top McCain adviser was once a lobbyist for EADS, the conspiracy theorists really went to town.
We thought that the entire round of accusations was poppycock, and still do. (Disclosure: although we’re defending McCain on this one, we have no connection to his campaign and aren’t even for him; we liked Ron Paul in the primary and Barack Obama in the general.)
But with the McCain campaign adopting its own rules on ethics, conflicts of interest and lobbyists, the former EADS lobbyist quit the campaign.
A wire service story on the action may be found here.
Make it four. That’s the number of defense contracts Boeing has lost this year. This AP story outlines them.
Maybe it’s just coincidence, but Boeing certainly hasn’t done very well since protesting the first loss, that of the KC-45A tanker program. Maybe there’s no retaliation going on with the Pentagon. Maybe we’re just being cynical. But we can’t help wondering if there’s a connection.
The Financial Times reported today (May 15) that the UK government will help fund the research and development for the composite wing for the Airbus A350.
Aerospace groups are joining forces with the government and regional development agencies to fund research and development aimed at strengthening the UK’s leading position in the manufacture of wings for commercial jets.
They are planning to invest £103m ($200m) in a three-year programme to develop and manufacture wings out of carbon-fibre composites, rather than aluminium. The R&D programme will be led by Airbus, the European aircraft maker, which has its wing design and manufacturing operations in the UK at sites near Bristol and in north Wales.
The full story may be found here, but it’s Subscription Required.
Our immediate thought, of course, was about that old bugaboo, government “subsidies” and the entire WTO/EU/USTR/Boeing/Airbus/USAF tanker series of fights.
This will only add fuel to the fire of the complainers over Airbus “subsidies.”
The Airbus response, of course, will be that Boeing gets plenty of R&D and “subsidy” support from NASA and the US Department of Defense.
Richard Aboulafia, Addison Schonland and Scott Hamilton discuss the winners (or not) between Airbus ands Boeing in the potential tie-up between United Airlines and US Airways and Delta and Northwest in this 15 minute podcast by AirInsight. (Subscription only.) The link is here.
EADS, parent of Airbus, reported a stronger-than-expected profit on higher production at its principal subsidiary. The details may be found in this AP story.
A couple of take-aways:
Airbus plans to take the A330/340 production to 12 a month by 2010 in response to demand for this airplane, higher and sooner than expected. This will further aid the cash flow shortfalls from the A380 program.
Northrop Grumman announced the grounding breaking for its KC-45A tanker even though the Government Accountability Office hasn’t rendered its decision on the Boeing protest of the tanker contract award by the USAF to Northrop.
This strikes us as incredibly premature and reminds us of another premature declaration:
Set for June 28
Mobile, Alabama Site to Provide KC-45 Tankers to United States Air Force
WASHINGTON – May 13, 2008 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and its key subcontractor, EADS North America, will join local, state and federal officials and the citizens of Mobile, Ala., in a groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, June 28. Ground will be broken at Mobile’s Brookley Field, where two adjacent manufacturing facilities will be built to produce the nation’s new fleet of aerial refueling tanker aircraft.
The ceremony has been scheduled pending the outcome of the Government Accountability Office review of the tanker contract award. “We anticipate a favorable decision and look forward to starting construction on this historic facility,” said Ronald D. Sugar, Northrop Grumman chairman and chief executive officer. “We’re committed to transforming Mobile into the centerpiece of an expanding aerospace corridor.”
“This event underscores the fact that we are ready to get to work now,” Sugar said. “We need to move forward quickly to provide our men and women in uniform what the Air Force has identified as its number-one acquisition priority – the new refueling tankers they so desperately need.”
Northrop Grumman and EADS North America are committed to the U.S. Air Force and also have contractual agreements in place with one another, the state of Alabama and the city of Mobile to ensure construction of the facilities is ready to move forward.
“We are excited that Brookley Field will once again be a hub of American military aircraft manufacturing,” said Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. “There is no doubt that Mobile is poised to be the crown jewel of a rapidly growing aerospace center of excellence in the Southeastern United States, bringing thousands of jobs and creating endless opportunities for our entire region.”
EADS North America will deliver the KC-45 aircraft platform to Northrop Grumman. Airbus, an EADS company, is responsible for manufacturing at its Mobile final assembly facility and will assemble, test and certify the aircraft before delivery. Following delivery to Northrop Grumman, the aircraft will receive the necessary military modifications to turn the commercial airframe into a U.S. Air Force KC-45 Tanker. In keeping with U.S. Department of Defense requirements, only Northrop Grumman and U.S. government employees with appropriate security clearances will militarize the tanker aircraft.
“EADS North America is fully committed to providing Northrop Grumman with an aircraft built in the U.S.,” said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., EADS North America chairman and chief executive officer. “More importantly, our men and women in uniform require and deserve the most capable system available. They have been waiting far too long for a modern tanker. Our entire team is ready to get to work now.”
Northrop Grumman’s architectural and engineering firm for the facility, BRPH Companies Inc., was selected last year and is prepared for the construction phase. Northrop Grumman’s facility is scheduled for completion and initial operation late next year. BRPH is leading a team consisting of KBR’s Mobile office and Thompson Engineering, headquartered in Mobile.
The groundbreaking ceremony occurs just a few days after the 60th anniversary of the start of the Berlin Airlift. This is significant because Brookley Field was the base from which C-54 transport aircraft supported the airlift.
About the KC-45
The KC-45 Tanker aircraft will be assembled in Mobile, Ala., and the KC-45 team will employ 48,000 American workers at 230 U.S. companies in 49 states. It will be built by a world-class industrial team led by Northrop Grumman, and includes EADS North America, General Electric Aviation and Sargent Fletcher.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.