Monday, December 29, 2014

Happey New Year Zumwalt

Its time to appreciate 2014 and the Navy in Pictures with:

X-46 Carrier Operations

Happy New Year and Welcome 2015

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Missing Air Asia Flight Reminds Us of The AF 447 From 2009.

Air France Flight 447: 'Damn it, we’re going to crash’

The Telegraph:

"In the early hours of June 1 2009, Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris went missing, along with 216 passengers and 12 crew. The Airbus A330-200 disappeared mid-ocean, beyond radar coverage and in darkness. It took a shocked and bewildered Air France six hours to concede its loss and for several agonising days there was no trace. It was an utter mystery. No other airliner had vanished so completely in modern times. Even when wreckage was discovered the tragedy was no less perplexing. The aircraft had flown through a thunderstorm, but there was no distress signal, and the jet was state-of-the-art, a type that had never before been involved in a fatal accident. What had caused it to fall out of the sky?"

Opening lead on AF flight # 447 reported on April 28, 2012 after much of the information had been gathered since the June 1, 2009,  A330-200 tragedy. Something went terribly wrong and it took years to get its arms around the fatal crash.

Missing AirAsia plane QZ8501: Experts compare disappearance to vanished Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

Hours after the disappearance of missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 aviation experts began comparing the incident with still-missing Malaysia Airlines MH370.
The Indonesia AirAsia jet, an Airbus 320-200 carrying 155 passengers and seven crew, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 2317pm GMT on Saturday.
No distress signal had been sent, said Joko Muryo Atmodjo, an Indonesian transport ministry official.
On board were 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans and one each from Singapore, Malaysia, plus a French pilot, the airline said in a statement, correcting earlier information.
Could the same combination of weather and equipment information lead to a second crash with the A320 types? Its worth comparing both occurrences. Airbus has corrected the pitot tubes for speed indication. This is an assumption Airbus has provided for the AF 447 crash where its pilots were untrained for this occurance, and reacted poorly to the misinformation fed into the aircraft's systems. The plane eventually stalled into the ocean in a rapid descent and perished during its slam into a storm front over the Atlantic . 
Could this be a similar occurrence? Where flight, Air Asia's QZ8501 fell from some weather mishap as it was dodging storms by climbing another 6,000 feet in altitude to avoid a multi front weather anomaly. It may have succumb to systems overload and inexperienced flight crew who had not trained relating to the AF 447 incident. Did this Air Asia A320-200 have updated parts, and systems from what Airbus determined should change in a safety bulletin after the 2009 crash? Many questions are on the table as the search has not even began or ended for the missing.
I would want all scenarios on the table from the past for this equipment type. In addition, it would be important to bring in the missing Malaysia MH370 incident into the picture as well as it may have been a man made event. I believe that weather and a combination of internal issues could of made this aircraft, flight QZ8501 disappear.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

What's Under The Boeing Tree Christmas 2014

Air China  gifted Boeing a $6B order for 737. Sneeking open a look:

WSJ Link below for further details:

Air China to Buy 60 Boeing 737 Jets

"In June, China Eastern Airlines Corp. said it would buy 80 of Boeing’s single-aisle jets. Boeing this year has also won a 50-plane commitment from Guangzhou-based discount carrier 9 Air for its 737 single-aisle airliner."

Boeing isn't bragging so much as it gathers  more China orders. The end of year China Region will be an impressive statement for the analyst.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Boeing 787-10 vs A350-9 Holiday Jello Shot

I have been featuring Seeking Alpha in some kind of symbiotic relationship where I go "All-In" with Dhierin Bechai articles on the Boeing and Airbus newest and brightest stars of each other’s offerings.  It seems Dhierin is in the tank with Boeing as he tries and makes an objective summary on each other’s competition. Rather than beat the key board with my own similar sounding outputs concerning the Boeing is Better rant, I'll pass-on the holiday meat and potatoes bowl to the Seeking Alpha Articles as a Holiday present. After January 1, 2015 it's back to throwing wrenches at Airbus and seeking cups of sugar for its engines of aviation progress, poured on our collective thoughts. Without further White Paper Doodling, here's... 

My Holiday Jello Shot Tree


Seeking Alpha. 

Wide Body Battle: Boeing 787-10 Or Airbus A350-900?


  • Boeing 787-10 seems to be more efficient than the Airbus A350-900.
  • Fuel efficiency of the Boeing 787-10 mainly depends on the empty mass of the airframe.
  • Figures provided by Boeing seem to yield a higher advantage for the biggest Dreamliner.

In one of my previous articles, I compared the Airbus (OTCPK:EADSF/OTCPK:EADSY) A350-900 with the Boeing (NYSE:BA) 747-400 and a reader pointed out that I should be comparing the Airbus A350-900 with the Boeing 787 instead of comparing it with a 50-year-old 747 concept. Although the comparison was a valid one since I was addressing the upcoming Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) fleet renewal, I will make the comparison between the Airbus A350-900 and the Boeing 787.
This comparison is an interesting one to make for airlines that are looking to replace the Boeing 777-200ER.
In this analysis (which estimates the empty weights for the Airbus A350-900 to be 145 and 131 tonnes for the Boeing 787-10), I will consider a 6,000 nm mission in maximum configuration. For this comparison, I will use the maximum configuration in 3-class since a lot of airlines adopted a denser configuration for the Boeing 777-200ER.
Table 1: Configuration used for the analysis

Approximating the empty mass for the Boeing 787-10

It is useful to actually look at the effects of stretching the aircraft, instead of guessing the empty weight of the Boeing 787-10.
On the aluminum Boeing 767, a stretch of the airframe meant an addition of 930 kg per meter. For the CFRP fuselage of the Boeing 787, this will be less and is approximated to be somewhere in the region of 750 kg per meter. Taking into account the increase in fuel capacity, another 1,000 kg is added to hold the additional fuel, I approximated an empty weight for the Boeing 787-10 that is around 128 tonnes. Adding margin of 3 tonnes (2.5%) to account for the rough scaling method used gives an empty weight of 131 tonnes.


The general characteristics look as shown in Figure 1:

Figure 1: General characteristics Boeing 787-10 versus Airbus A350-900 (Source: Dhierin-Perkash Bechai)
Implementing this into the model gives the following result for a 7,000 nm mission:
Figure 2: Comparison Boeing 787-10 versus Airbus A350-900 (Source: Dhierin-Perkash Bechai)
As can be seen for a 6,000 nm trip, the Boeing 787-10 seems to be performing better. The lower aerodynamic and propulsive efficiency are compensated by the increased capacity and the lower weight of the Boeing 787-10.
The fuel costs per seat-mile are $0.042 for the A350-900 and $0.039 for the Boeing 787-10.
On a wider range, the fuel consumption numbers for both aircraft are as follows:

Figure 3: Comparison Boeing 787-10 versus Airbus A350-900 on a wider range (Source: Dhierin-Perkash Bechai)
Boeing claimed 8% lower seat-mile costs and 4% lower trip fuel compared to the A350-900. Boeing also seemed to be claiming to have 10% lower fuel costs per seat. My analysis shows that the trip fuel is 4.5% lower but the seat-mile costs are only 7% lower.
Udvar-Hazy, CEO of Air Lease Corp. (NYSE:AL), also stated that the Boeing 787-10 is better than the A350-900, but advantages are not as big as portrayed by Boeing.

Passenger comfort

In the end, it is not all about fuel burn figures and estimates, but also about passenger comfort and that is where Airbus seems to be having a huge advantage with its aircraft.
Airbus seems to be offering a higher level of passenger comfort, especially in economy class. This can make a big difference. The Airbus A350-900 in 9 seat abreast configuration has a seat width of 18 inches versus 17.5 inches for the Boeing 787-10.
So airlines have to make a decision:
Either they go for an airplane with bigger range and better passenger comfort, the Airbus A350-900, or they choose the Boeing 787-10.
In the end that remains a trade off airlines have to make.


  • Due to its lower weight, the Boeing 787-10 is more fuel efficient than the Airbus A350-900
  • However, advantages are not as big as claimed by Boeing
  • Airbus offers better passenger comfort, which might be a reason to choose the Airbus A350-900 over the Boeing 787-10
  • Airlines looking for efficiency will buy the Boeing 787-10; airlines that need range rather than the few % in efficiency and capacity will buy the Airbus A350-900

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Before Confusion-Seeking Alpha Part II

Boeing: How The 777X Will Beat The Brand New Airbus A350 (Part 2)

Opening with Seeking Alpha 777X vs the A350-1000 report part II. The article whether it is speculative from Airbus development claims or actual supported data, demonstrates that Boeing wouldn't put out billions of $dollars  on an aircraft, after going second in the design mode when Airbus freezes the A350 design. It is a correct conclusion taking current information as presented by what is known on the 777-8 and 777-9. 

It will fall into a conservative estimate, and even in fact, as both the A350 and777X "paper" starting points will acheive significant improvements over the evolution of its individual development. Whatever Airbus acheives with its Aircraft proposal, Boeing has set itself to not only match but exceed the Airbus proposal with improved effciency, sieze, and scope that may even impede the survival of the A380 and 747-8i. 

In order for Boeing making a program killing stamp on Airbus, they must narrow the 747-8F as the only super Boeing Jumbo, and replace passenger service with th 777-9 in that class. It just fits where the 777-300-ER fits.



LinkedIn (71 clicks)
Long only, airlines, industrials, aerospace


  • Boeing 777X concept seems to be slightly better than the A350.
  • To compete with the lower segment of the 777-9X market, Airbus has to stretch the A350.
  • In the end both aircraft are good fleet members.
In my previous article, I compared the Airbus (OTCPK:OTCPK:EADSF/OTCPK:OTCPK:EADSY) A350-1000 and Boeing (NYSE:BA) 777-9X and concluded that although the Boeing 777-9X is more fuel efficient, the difference in capacity does not justify the 2 aircraft to be compared to each other.
In this article, I will compare the Boeing 777-8X that can transport similar passenger numbers as the Airbus A350-1000, but has a far bigger range.
The Boeing 777-8X features the same optimizations as lined out in part 1 of this series.
The empty weight for the Boeing 777-8X is not yet known, so has been estimated. I expect the empty weight to decrease due to the use of lighter engines and wings. The folding wing tip system probably will add some weight. With the wings being considerably bigger, but lighter overall, I expect that the weight of the Boeing 777-8X will be close to that of the Airbus A350-1000.

Figure 8: Comparison general characteristics Boeing 777-8X and Airbus A350-1000 (Source: Dhierin-Perkash Bechai)
Figure 8 shows that the general characteristics are similar to that of the Boeing 777-9X, with the only differences being that the Boeing 777-8X transports about 1% more passengers compared to the Airbus A350-1000 and has about equal weight.
For a 4000 nm trip, this gives the following results:
Figure 8: Results for a 4000 nm trip for Boeing 777-8X compared to the Airbus A350-1000 (Source: Dhierin-Perkash Bechai)
The figure quite clearly shows that also the Boeing 777-8X has an advantage over the Airbus A350-1000. The fuel costs per seat-mile are $0.042 for the Airbus A350-1000 and $0.038 for the Boeing 777-8X, both in 3-class maximum configuration.
Looking at the performance over a wider range also shows superiority of the Boeing 777-8X:
Figure 9: Comparing the Boeing 777-8X and Airbus A350-1000 on a wider range (Source: Dhierin-Perkash Bechai)
Boeing claimed 12% lower fuel consumption than the competition. Although the Boeing 777-8X has a significant advantage, it does not get anywhere near the 12% in my analysis. On the longer routes, the advantage tends to be about 10%, which still is significant when comparing an all new aircraft family with an optimized airframe.
Since part of my analysis is based on an assumed weight I will also include numbers for a higher empty weight for the Boeing 777-8X:
165 tonnes gives an advantage between 1 and 6%.
When more accurate numbers become available, this analysis will be enhanced or an update will be published. This article features a very preliminary and should be treated as such.


  • Both members of the 777X Family beat the Airbus A350-1000 in terms of efficiency
  • The Boeing 777X offers airlines the highest efficiency from 2020, obsoleting the all-new Airbus A350-1000
  • Boeing squeezed the Airbus A350-1000 in a difficult position, making a stretched A350 necessary
  • This stretched version will have lower range, but can compete with the Boeing 777-9X on the shorter routes
  • The Boeing 777-8X is superior while the Boeing 777-9X does not have any competitor at all
Editor's Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

Before Confusion Comes From The Airbus Take, The 777X8 or 777X-9, Has Been Analyzed

Full Credit goes to Seeking Alpha Please visit its web site linked below:

Boeing: How The 777X Will Beat The Brand New Airbus A350 (Part 1)

LiftnDrag commentary for one paragraph before reading "The Seeking Alpha Homework Assignment". 

After going through this article, the author has come to the same conclusions I have when reading Airbus data. It's hard to clear-up facts using Airbus-Boeing comparisons! One may quote the A350 is 25% more efficient than its competitor without qualifying where they got that "number". The Boeing company firmly stated, that it compared the 767 model with its own 787 model, arriving at 20% better efficiency with fuel. However, after much research, I came across this nugget. Airbus plays loose with statistics, and they are not held accountable for its statements. Everyone is left to assume the A350 is 25% more efficient than the 787 when they say "The A350 is 25% more efficient than its competitor!" The digging-up of information comes later with this baseline note. Airbus was comparing an old or first built 777-200 with its base line A350-900. I don't know what version of the 777-200 configuration other than it must of been a 1990's model, Maybe extracting a comparison before all those engine changes and upgrades come later to the 777-200. On the other hand, Boeing was talking about its latest 767 as compared with the 787. There were no A350's flying at the time, Boeing made the 20% fuel improvement for the 787 over its own modeled wide-body. 

Without further ado here is the the Seeking  Alpha article by:

Please Link Above on "Seeking Alpha" for the full article, and gratiously give a web impression for its advertisers, Thank you.


·       "Boeing 777-9X is more fuel efficient even in a conservative comparison.
·       Airbus claim of 5% lower costs per seat seem to be based on nothing.
·       Boeing 777 concept is proving itself once again.
In this analysis I will compare the Boeing (NYSE:BA) 777-9X that will enter service in 2020 with the Airbus (OTCPK:OTCPK:EADSF/OTCPK:OTCPK:EADSY) A350-1000. It has to be noted though that this is not the most logical comparison to make since the Boeing 777-9X is bigger, but since Airbus made this comparison to show how 'light weight' their Airbus A350-100 is I will go ahead and make this comparison as well.
In the second part of this small study I will compare the Boeing 777-8X with the Airbus A350-1000.
The Boeing 777X is the successor of the Boeing 777 and features:
·       Wing made out of CFRP which reduced the weight of the wing component
·       Slightly wider cabin, which allows for wider seats in dense configuration
·       Bigger wings that increase aerodynamic efficiency by 12% compared to the Boeing 777-300ER
·       New GE9X engines will be 6-8% more efficient than the engines on the Boeing 777-300ER
During Airbus' investors days last year Airbus showed the following chart:(click to enlarge)

Figure 1: Comparison between the Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 777-9X (Source:

Airbus made the comparison between the A350-1000 and 777-9X to show they have the lighter air frame. Another reason is because the A350-1000 and Boeing 777-9X have similar range capability. Below I will outline why the comparison between an Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 777-9X is not a reasonable one to make, I will do so by going ahead and make the comparison anyways. This will show that Airbus merely made the comparison to compare weights, rather than efficiencies.
It has to be noted that the figures used for the SFC are making the difference in the comparisons. Rolls Royce is not clearly specifying the SFC advantage the Trent XWB has. For now I calculated a value close to 0.49 lb/lbf/hr. GE claimed the GE9X engine one the Boeing 777X to be 8% more efficient, which gives a figure similar to that of the Trent XWB engines. At the same time GE claims their engine will be 5% more efficient than any competing engines in 2020. For now I will be using the 8% figure provided for the calculations, which might be seen as a conservative estimate.
Using the numbers available gives the following results:

Figure 2: Comparison general characteristics Boeing 777-9X and Airbus A350-1000 (Source: Dhierin-Perkash Bechai)
Looking at the general characteristics it becomes immediately clear that Airbus is comparing a far larger aircraft with the Airbus A350-1000. The Boeing 777-9X has a higher weight, due to the fact that is has a far higher capacity and therefore needs a heavier structure. The Boeing 777-9X has better aerodynamics and seems to be having similar propulsive efficiency.
For a 4000 nautical mile trip this yields the following results:

Figure 3: Results for a 4000 nm trip for Boeing 777-9X compared to the Airbus A350-1000 (Source: Dhierin-Perkash Bechai)
The figure shows that profit is mainly driven by the increased capacity. Fuel costs per seat-mile are $0.040 for the Airbus A350-1000 and $0.039 for the Boeing 777-9X.

Figure 4: Advantage of the Airbus A350-1000 as presented by Airbus (
As can be seen Airbus claims 15% lower costs per trip and 5% lower costs per seat, but does this by comparing a bigger aircraft in 3-class configuration, with an aircraft in 2-class configuration.
The total operating costs might indeed be 15% better, my analysis showed a 16% higher fuel burn for the Boeing 777-9X. Translating this to a per seat figure the fuel costs per seat are marginally lower for the Boeing 777-9X.
Comparing both aircraft on a wider range shows that differences are minimal:

Figure 5: Comparing the Boeing 777-9X and Airbus A350-1000 on a wider range (Source: Dhierin-Perkash Bechai)
Figure 5 quite clearly shows differences are small, but that the Boeing 777-9X has the advantage (even when using a conservative estimate on the specific fuel consumption of the aircraft).
As I pointed out earlier it is not quite clear how much fuel the Trent XWB engines consume, therefore estimated a value that came pretty close to the SFC of the GE9X engine.
Using the claim that the GE90X engine will be 5% more efficient, which is not weird to assume since the engine is slightly bigger (for every inch that is added in fan size the fuel consumption drops by 0.5%) the figure change a bit:

Figure 6: Comparing the Boeing 777-9X and Airbus A350-1000 on a wider range (Source: Dhierin-Perkash Bechai)
For a 4000 nm trip this translates to:

Figure 7: Results for a 4000 nm trip for Boeing 777-9X compared to the Airbus A350-1000 (Source: Dhierin-Perkash Bechai)
In terms of fuel costs per nautical seat-mile this translates to: $0.042 for the Airbus A350-1000 and $0.040 for the Boeing 777-9X.
So in both comparisons the Boeing 777-9X ends up on top. I think that the second analysis, assuming a higher fuel consumption for the Trent XWB, is more credible. This quite clearly shows that the bigger and heavier Boeing 777-9X is still more efficient, although Airbus tries to convince customers as well as investors this is not the case.
In my next article I will compare the Boeing 777-8X and the Airbus A350-1000, since both aircraft transport equal numbers of passengers. I will also draw conclusions for the comparisons made and look which aircraft family will eventually be the winner.
Editor's Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The 767 KC-46 Tanker Is Rushing To The Christmas Tree

Okay, its the tanker under the tree official Christmas Report. Straight from the "Island of Misfits"  $1.5 Billion Boeing Dollars later it supposed to fly out of the hole it dug.

"Music interlude with Carolers"

·       Re-wired bundles of Joy, re-wired bundles of joy…
·       Black Friday Black Electrical Tape Blow-out the bundle Sale
·       Four Frames Awaiting
·       Two Frames without stuffing
·       One getting Ready to fly
·       Five Golden Radar Arrays

The interview revealed several more points. Panic in the Boeing Elf shop as team members run to and frow with magnify glasses, tweezers and screw drivers driver in hand.

The shop steward yells through the Bull-horn, ”Everybody, don’t run with screw driver in hand, walk!”

On the Wall a big, big, clock ticks off the days. Right now it’s on twelve whole days from first flight or December 27, 2014. “Don’t install the toilet seat, we only have 12 whole days. Leave the toilet paper out”, scream the engineers. The Christmas pandemonium is my own happy Christmas thought as really, the Boeing elves are working late and long, getting it right for flight. So what’s the real scoop?

As below reported: Seattle Times

"Air Force: Boeing cost overrun on tanker project jumps to $1.5 billion

Boeing is working feverishly to get the 767-based platform for the Air Force’s new KC-46 refueling tanker into the air by year end, six months later than planned. Estimated costs have ballooned to $1.5 billion above the contract ceiling.

Seattle Times aerospace reporter
Boeing engineers and mechanics are scrambling to meet an already stretched-out schedule and get the 767-based platform for the Air Force’s new KC-46 refueling tanker into the air by year end, with an internal target date of Dec. 27.
That’s six months later than projected at the beginning of this year.
And the cost of the effort is mounting steeply for Boeing, which is responsible for cost overruns above a contract ceiling of $4.9 billion in this initial development phase.
The goverment’s latest projection for the cost of tanker development has ballooned to $1.5 billion above that contract ceiling, Brig. General Duke Richardson, who heads the Air Force tanker program, said Monday.
The Air Force’s previous estimate had been for a $1 billion overrun.
Richardson said in an interview that the new estimate is based on Boeing’s performance on the work completed thus far, and factors in manufacturing delays due to wiring issues this year as well as potential risks ahead, including possible surprises once flight tests begin.
Boeing spokesman Chick Ramey declined to comment on the Air Force’s cost figure. He said the tanker team is “aggressively working our plans to mitigate risk and lower costs.”
He noted that because it’s a fixed-price contract, “there won’t be any additional costs to the U.S. government.”
Two Boeing insiders with knowledge of the program said the tanker team in Everett is working feverishly to resolve remaining systems problems and is under orders to prep the first plane “with the minimum capability to make it fly.”
Richardson indicated the Air Force’s priorities are much the same.
“At this point we need Boeing to get Number One in the air,” he said.
The flight from Paine Field is the first public milestone for the program, which is set to earn Boeing $51 billion for delivering a total of 179 tankers to the Air Force.
The plane’s take-off will mark the beginning of flight tests that will eventually involve four test aircraft.
The first plane is not outfitted with the military systems that would make it a tanker, such as the air-to-air refueling boom.
It’s just the basic airplane platform, designated a 767-2C model. This is a modified commercial 767 with a 787-style cockpit, a strengthened airframe, four extra fuel tanks in the cargo bay, and the plumbing and wiring to support the tanker mission.
The runup to first flight hasn’t gone smoothly.
After the airframes for all four test aircraft were completed this year, Boeing had to repeatedly remove and reinstall complex wiring systems in the first airplane.
Richardson said the wiring had to be redesigned because the various redundant wire bundles that independently control critical systems were not sufficiently separated.
Once that was corrected, he said, Boeing had to further adjust the design so that the the wires would still physically fit into the various bends and crevices in the airframe.
The painstaking unwiring and then rewiring of the first airplane delayed this initial flight by months, and added an extra $425 million in unplanned expenses to the cost overrun that Boeing must swallow.
Because of the delays, Boeing has committed to submit a detailed revised schedule to the Air Force in February.
Even if the cost overrun is as high as the government forecasts, Boeing could potentially make up for the loss in the later stages of the program.
Boeing vice chairman and chief operating officer Dennis Muilenburg said earlier this month that the company anticipates follow-on orders from both the Air Force and from international customers such as South Korea.
He said Boeing expects to build in total “probably closer to 400 to 500 aircraft.”
Among the fairly routine issues being tackled this week is a problem in starting the engines using the Auxiliary Power Unit in the tail of the airplane.
A person with knowledge of the details said a fix is ready.
However, some lower priority matters that don’t affect the safety of flight will be left until later.
Richardson said that some 23 functional testswill be left undone until after first flight.
That’s because crucial parts of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification process cannot proceed until flight tests begin.
“Reducing the risk on the airworthiness certification paperwork is more important than finishing some of the jobs that could have been done,” said Richardson.
Despite the delays to first flight, Boeing continues to insist that it remains on track to fulfill its contract requirement of having 18 operational tankers built and ready to deploy by late 2017.
Richardson declared himself “pretty confident” that the 767-2C will fly by month-end.
The first airplane fully equipped as a KC-46 tanker will be the second airplane to roll off the line, which is scheduled to fly in April.
Richardson said that second plane has more wiring that the base airplane, and the wiring on airplane Number Two is now 78 percent complete.
He said he feels “very good” about the wiring fix on the first plane and that he’ll feel “really, really good” once the wiring on the second is completed.
Two of the four test planes will be baseline 767-2Cs that will focus on achieving FAA certification.
The other two will be fully equipped KC-46 tankers and will be used to test the military systems and to certify that the tanker is ready to refuel a variety of receiver airplanes.
The KC-46 design includes an advanced refueling boom that is hooked up to a jet fighter by an operator who sits at a station behind the cockpit.
Using a 3D video-display monitor, the boom operator remotely navigates the telescopic tip of this refueling tube toward the receiving fighter’s fuel receptacle.
Integration of the complex software systems that control this military hardware is a major challenge.
One potential risk ahead, according to Richardson, is the possibility of finding problems in controling the boom in flight once the KC-46 flight tests start.
Next summer, after the FAA completes initial flight test inspections, Boeing will have to demonstrate the ability to pass fuel in flight to a variety of fighter aircraft.
Only if that’s successful will the Pentagon in September give the go-ahead for Boeing to begin building the first production tankers.
At this stage, any further delays or unexpected problems could push that target date out.
“Most of the margin ... is gone” said Richardson.
To keep on track for 18 tankers ready to deploy in 2017, Boeing must hand over the first tanker for the Air Force to test and evaluate in the fall of 2016.
Yet despite the program glitches this year, Muilenburg said Boeing management is “feeling very good about where that program is at now.”
“We’ve got some of those technical issues behind us,” Muilenburg said in New York. “We’ll now focus on executing the flight test program under development, and then getting the program into production.”