Here is the Boeing GAO Supplmental Filing of Boeing’s tanker protest.
Update: 1000AM PDT: Boeing just wrapped up a conference call discussing the supplemental filing. The call largely went over the filing, and the Q&A was largely expansive on the filing. Read the filing and you’ll get the gist of the call.
A couple of points of interest:
Boeing expects to have a transcript of the call available later, as well as an audio archive. We’ve asked for the transcript when available and will post it here. The audio archive will be posted at Boeing’s Tanker Blog.
We’ll link select articles as they pop up on the Internet.
Update, April 4, 0730AM PDT: A few articles of interest:
Jed Babbin, former deputy undersecretary of defense for Bush 41, writes another well-reasoned piece on the tanker; he’s a pro-Boeing advocate and he, like his previous writing we linked, does a good job of avoiding histrionics.
Aviation Week’s Amy Butler does another in a series of fine reporting. Her piece is here.
George Talbot, reporting from Boeing’s “enemy territory,” The Mobile (AL) Press-Register, does his usual good reporting with this piece.
Meanwhile, in the Internet website wars, Northrop has launched a new site, America’s New Tanker. This serves as another effort by NGC to rebut Boeing’s PR campaign.
Update 0945AM PDT: Here’s another opinion piece, this one in support of the KC-30, from DefenseTech.org.
From The Wall Street Journal:
The Government Accountability Office denied motions filed by Northrop Grumman Corp. and the Air Force to dismiss parts of Boeing Co. protest of a $40 billion contract to provide aerial refueling jets.
Both companies characterized the developments as victories.
“Boeing’s decision to abandon the public relations rhetoric contained in its original protest filings is in keeping with our motion,” said Northrop spokesman Randy Belote in a statement. Northrop also said that it was encouraged that Boeing “streamlined” its approach.
“This decision is consistent with our view that full consideration of all appeal grounds is warranted,” Boeing said in a statement, calling it a “significant development” in the company’s appeal.
The full article is here.
Update, 400PM: We’ve obtained the redacted copy of the USAF Motion to Dismiss Boeing’s protest (which the GAO has now denied–the Motion to Dismiss, that is). The 49 page PDF provides extremely interesting reading in the dynamics between Boeing and the Air Force.
Update 740PM: Boeing says it did not narrow its protest, and claims this is only Northrop’s “spin.” Here’s a Reuters story.
Our Corporate Website has been updated with in-depth commentary. This week we write about eco-aviation and of technology transfer to Japan and the Boeing 787.
We quickly received a note from Lynn Lunsford of The Wall Street Journal on the latter subject. We cited a Forbes story in our comment–Lynn points out Forbes picked up the item from his piece on March 27. The relevant except is below:
In what could prove to be an important alliance, Mitsubishi Heavy has persuaded Boeing to participate in the program by working with it to adapt elements of the same carbon-fiber composite technology being used in Boeing‘s new 787 Dreamliner. Mitsubishi Heavy and two other Japanese companies are major financial partners with Boeing on the bigger jet, so they already have experience with these materials. By incorporating composite materials that don’t corrode or fatigue with age, Japanese officials hope to differentiate their product from those of competitors that rely largely on aluminum.
Mitsubishi Heavy and Japanese government officials had hoped that Boeing would sign on as a significant investor in the project, but the Chicago aerospace company declined, saying it needed to stay focused on getting its delayed Dreamliner out of the door. “We will participate in a limited way. Discussions are under way to determine exactly what will be of most value to the program,” said a Boeing executive familiar with the talks.
Here are some new developments on the continuing USAF tanker saga:
Boeing today (March 28) acquired the Vought share of Global Aeronautica, giving the 787 manufacturer a 50% stake in the company.
The plant in Charleston (SC) has been one of the key trouble spots in the 787 program. Flightblogger’s Jon Ostrower reported the probable move way back in December.
This is a good move for Boeing in straightening out the program. Although it’s unclear today just how much of the 787 production problems continue to originate at Charleston, the 787 production system still is under major stress. The world waits for Boeing’s program update–the internal assessment continues–and the date for the program update, thought by some to be next week, by some the following week, remains unscheduled and unconfirmed.
Is the buyout related to the recent news about redesign of the center wing box? The answer, in our opinion, is “no.” Charleston isn’t responsible for the wing box; the Japanese are. Furthermore, we’re told from inside Boeing that the wing box issue was old news (at least one Wall Street analyst says the same thing) and that the redesign occurred quite some time ago for the first six airplanes (or seven, depending on who’s talking).
What made it news is that Boeing didn’t tell anyone and with its in-the-bunker mentality since things went south on the production schedule (a phrase used both inside and outside of Boeing), not being forthcoming, the statement by ILFC CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy that Boeing had to redesign the wing box became news for a news-hungry media.
Even within Boeing, there is complaint that Boeing isn’t forthcoming and therefore winds up de facto letting others reveal problems.
But we digress. Today’s news is tangible evidence that Boeing is taking back control of its own destiny. It’s a major step, it’s not the first and it won’t be the last. But for all interested parties, it’s certainly the right step.
Boeing placed nationwide advertisements Tuesday about its protest over the USAF award to the GAO.
This is part of the public relations campaign by Boeing we’ve disliked. Just as we thought the USAF award had to be done on its merits and not some PR campaign, the protest to the GAO should be done on its merits and not on the basis of some PR campaign.
We’re disappointed with this approach.
Update, March 27, 0830 PDT: Yesterday the Air Force and Northrop filed dismissal requests with the GAO over portions of the Boeing protest.
Says a Northrop source:
“Bottom line is Boeing played super bowl, accepted rules, played game fully expected to win, and lost. Now says rules not fair. Should have said rules were not fair before kickoff. Did not.
“Legally they had 10 chances to protest before they submitted. They instead said it was fair up to when they lost. Cause they expected to win.”
Here’s the official announcement from Northrop about its filing:
Northrop Grumman, today, filed a motion with the GAO to dismiss significant portions of Boeing’s “PR-Plated” protest of the Air Force tanker award.
Northrop Grumman’s motion argues that much of what Boeing complains about was contained in the KC-X Request for Proposal and should have been questioned, or perhaps protested, before Boeing submitted its final bid.
We are challenging Boeing’s protest claims on the grounds that:
– Boeing’s challenge of the KC-30′ superior aerial refueling and airlift capability is untimely and should be dismissed.
– Boeing’s challenge of the RFP’s Integrated Fleet Aerial Refueling Assessment (IFARA) evaluation structure is too late.
– Boeing’s claims that its past tanker experience and superior survivability, and the issue of government subsidies were ignored by the Air Force are untimely because tanker experience was not a proposal requirement and the other items should have been challenged by Boeing long before it submitted its proposal.
– Boeing’s challenge to the Air Forces decision to increase Boeing’s cost proposal is untimely because Boeing knew the basis for the increase long before filing its final proposal.
– Boeing’s claim that the Air Force improperly evaluated its schedule is untimely because Boeing knew of the schedule issue before submitting its final proposal.
Filing a protest – especially when it’s a protest seeking to block the deployment of a defense system as vital to our men and women in uniform as the KC-45A tanker – is extremely serious business.
While Northrop Grumman fully supports the protest process, Northrop Grumman filed this motion as an effort to clear the air and afford the GAO the opportunity to do its job without distraction.
Boeing responded that it objects to any effort by Northrop or the USAF to limit the scope of the protest.
We didn’t support the filing of a protest but as long as one was filed, we believe that a vigorous “prosecution” of it is the only way to clear the air. We’re in no position to judge the merits of the protest, and neither is anybody in Congress on either side of the issue. We believe that it’s in the best interests of everyone involved to thoroughly address all points.
While we think Northrop has some points as outlined above, we’re not sure that dismissing issues on technicalities makes good sense, because it give critics of the award further opportunity to moan. We lean toward letting all issues remain in the protest and letting the GAO affirm or dismiss them, one-by-one, as the best way to answer all the questions and critics.
Having said that, there is one element to Boeing’s complaint we think is stretching the point. Boeing complains that the USAF did not take into account the first KC-767 delivered to Japan. We think this is irrelevant. The first delivery to the Japanese industrial partner, not even the Japanese Air Force, took place February 19, just 10 days before the Air Force announced its award. The second delivery was March 5, five days after the award was announced. Delivery of the second obviously came too late for inclusion in the evaluation process and this is probably also true for the first. More relevant to the evaluation process was Boeing’s performance leading up to delivery of the first tanker, and Boeing’s track record on the Japanese and related Italian KC-767 contracts was poor.
Boeing may have lots of legitimate grounds for complaining about the award, but failure to consider delivery of the Japanese tankers isn’t one of them. Inclusion in Boeing’s high profile complaining only undermines their other salient points.
With delivery delays of around 15 months now expected for the Boeing 787 program, where does Boeing turn to help its customers?
One suggestion was upping the production of the 767, currently at one a month. This won’t work–it takes about two years to do so, according to Boeing. By then the 787 program should be more or less back on track.
A blogger suggested that the 777 could be the answer. Not likely, either, because the 777 has a four year backlog and is being produced at the rate of seven a month, its highest ever.
The used airplane market is very tight. Boeing is looking for 777s, 767s and even Airbus A330s and A340s with little luck.
Boeing and the airlines will have to cope as best they can.
Here’s the backlog chart for Boeing. The production rates are:
787: planned–initially 3/mo, increasing to 10/mo within 18 mo
|Unfilled Orders by Model||Through February 2008|
|Total Unfilled Orders||3544|
|Total Unfilled for 737||2154|
|Total Unfilled for 747||123|
|Total Unfilled for 767||50|
|Total Unfilled for 777||360|
|Total Unfilled for 787||857|
|Total Unfilled Orders||3544|