Losses and Aviation Safety

Boeing is close to shut down KC-46A assembly line due to tools and debris found inside completed aircraft

The Military Delivery Center has issued a state 3 level of alert. One step away from total shut down of KC-46A assembly line.

Boeing is just one step away from shutting down the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker assembly line, an internal memo has revealed.

As reported by The Seattle Times, the Feb. 21 memo said new KC-46As being delivered to the U.S. Air Force has been found with loose tools and bits of debris inside the aircraft. “We have USAF pilots here for flight training and they will not fly due to the FOD (foreign object debris) issues and the current confidence they have in our product that has been discovered throughout the aircraft,” it pointed out.

The memo in fact notes that eight tools were found in aircraft delivered to the Military Delivery Center (MDC) and two more in tankers delivered to the USAF.

“This is a big deal,” the memo emphasized. The MDC has issued a state 3 level of alert. One step away from total shut down of the assembly line.

The situation force Boeing to issue “a temporary pause” to the KC-46A flight operations for a week, it only resumed on Feb. 28.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. KC-46A Pegasus 97th AMW, 56th ARS, 17-76028, Altus AFB

The internal memo said the MDC “grounded our 767 tankers due to FOD and tool control.”

“It will take us all to win back the confidence of our customer/USAF and show them that we are the number one aircraft builder,” the memo urges.

In addition to six flight test KC-46 tankers, Boeing has already delivered six tankers to the McConnell and Altus Air Force Bases, with about 45 more production tankers at Boeing’s Puget Sound area facilities in the final stages of completion.

Noteworthy as we have reported, last year the Pentagon faulted Boeing for continuing quality, management and other deficiencies in the production of F-15s and F/A-18 fighters at its St Louis production facility.

Undelivered aircraft have been found with missing, backwards and out-of-specification fasteners. Jets under assembly are inadvertently damaged when they hit maintenance work stands or other equipment on the floor.

Even though the aerospace company was punished by the Pentagon by withholding payments, the Pentagon itself said Boeing was more focused on “maintain cash flow, increase profit and achieve contract award.”

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alan Ricker

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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