Things only “seem” to be the case

There’s a very subtle difference in the language of Boeing’s press release today touting its KC-767AT tanker attributes.

Ever since the USAF awarded the KC-45A tanker contract to Northrop Grumman, Boeing has said the Air Force wanted a “medium” sized tanker and told everybody who would listen (and many who wouldn’t) that the Air Force repeated told Boeing that it wanted a “medium” tanker.

The press release today states, in part:

“The Air Force Request for Proposals seemed to call for a medium-sized tanker designed to meet the unique needs of today’s expeditionary Air Force.” (Emphasis added.)

This “seemed to call” language is a far cry from the definitive statements made by Boeing since the February 29 award.

There’s another element beginning to emerge to all this “size” issue. Information that’s been provided to us within the last week suggests that as far back as 2006, Boeing was citing Air Force “indications” about a “medium” size tanker. We’re still looking into this and we don’t yet know where the information will lead us, but there may be more to all this than currently is known outside of a very few circles.

Boeing Environmental Report

Boeing just issued a 50 page report on its approach to environmental issues. In addition to the link here, we’ve added this permanently under our Green Aviation section.

Boeing is participating our our Eco-Aviation conference June 18-20 in Washington, DC, organized with Air Transport World.

There is a high quality list of speakers.

Eco-aviation continues to gain importance in profile and substance. Boeing’s Scott Carson, president of the Commercial Aircraft division, spent a fair amount of time during his presentation at the annual investors’ conference yesterday talking about aviation and the environmental movement.

In an interview we just completed with Airbus for the new publication, Aviation and the Environment, Airbus discussed the environmental advances of the A350’s new Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine compared with the new Trent 1000 on the Boeing 787. Although the Trent XWB doesn’t represent a technological break-through, it does provide advances over Rolls’ own latest engine technology for the game-changing 787.

Whereas fuel efficiency and noise have been the drivers in the past for new airplanes, there are a whole new set of drivers for technological advances to protect the environment.

Boeing’s new environmental report is important reading for a better understanding of what Boeing is doing and the issues in eco-aviation.

Corporate Site update/wk May 21

Our Corporate website has been updated.

We have an interview with John Leahy, the COO of Airbus, from May 20 and a recap of Wednesday’s investors’ conference with Boeing. We also have some new stuff on the tanker that’s part of the Leahy PDF file.

Japan’s KC-767 hits turbulence

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.
==Kyodo

May 21, 2008 12:19:15

You read it here first: 767 production boost

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.

Sen. Murray faces off with SecDef Gates

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.

Corporate website update wk/May 20

We’ll delay the update of our Corporate Website one day this week to May 21. Boeing’s investors’ day conference is Wednesday and we want to include reports from this in our bi-weekly update. Look for the Corporate Website update late Wednesday.

Boeing abandons current 737RS effort: report

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.

EADS’ ex-lobbyist quits McCain campaign

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.

Boeing loses another defense contract

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.