Boeing refueling tanker passes first big milestone


Boeing Co’s new KC-46A refueling plane has successfully completed a preliminary design review, passing its first major milestone and paving the way for detailed design work on the new 767-based tanker, said the U.S. Air Force.

Major General Christopher Bogdan, the Air Force’s executive officer for the tanker program, said Boeing had met every contractual requirement on time and with zero engineering or contract changes.
“Overall, I am pleased with the path this program is on,” Bogdan said in a statement, Reuters reports.

The Air Force statement followed a highly critical report issued by the Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog agency, that said the $51.7 billion program faced “significant schedule risks” and technical challenges, and was already $900 million over budget.

Boeing beat out Europe’s EADS to win the contract in February 2011, capping a decade of failed Air Force attempts to start replacing its aging fleet of KC-135 refueling planes, which are now 49 years old on average.

The program’s next major milestone is a critical design review in the summer of 2013 that will determine if the design is mature and ready to enter into production.

Bogdan’s office reviewed plans and documentation for all aspects of the tanker program on April 27, including design, manufacturing, testing, training and sustainment as part of the preliminary design review.

Bogdan said “many positive aspects” emerged from the review, including the fact that a number of the aircraft subsystems have more detailed and mature designs than are often seen at this stage of the process.