Losses and Aviation Safety

USAF stops KC-46A acceptance again due to debris found inside aircraft

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) again stopped accepting new KC-46A Pegasus tankers from Boeing after more debris was found hidden in closed compartments.

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) again stopped accepting new KC-46A Pegasus tankers from Boeing after more debris was found hidden in closed compartments, the service said on Apr. 2, 2019.

As we have reported last month, in February Boeing was close to shut down KC-46A assembly line due to tools and debris found inside completed aircraft

Eight tools were found in aircraft delivered to the Military Delivery Center (MDC) and two more in tankers delivered to the USAF.

The situation forced Boeing to issue “a temporary pause” to the KC-46A flight operations from Feb. 28 to Mar. 11.

Foreign object debris turned up again few days after, causing the USAF to pause acceptance on Mar. 23. Still more debris was discovered this week after the pause. 

“This week our inspectors identified additional foreign object debris and areas where Boeing did not meet quality standards,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Air Force Magazine. “The issues are unrelated to design or engineering specifications. Air Force leadership is meeting with Boeing to approve additional corrective action plans before aircraft acceptance can resume.”

She did not answer how many aircraft had debris or how many KC-46 deliveries are affected by the pause. Currently the USAF has seven new KC-46A tankers in its inventory.

Boeing is doubling down on its aircraft safety and quality inspections and says resolving this issue is a top priority.

“We are currently conducting additional company and customer inspections of the jets and have implemented preventative action plans,” Boeing spokesman Chick Ramey said. “We have also incorporated additional training, more rigorous clean-as-you-go practices, and FOD awareness days across the company to stress the importance and urgency of this issue.”

Noteworthy as we have explained, 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.”

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

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

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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