CORRECTED Boeing Spokesman’s First Name To Chick
CAPITOL HILL: More than a week after the Air Force halted Boeing’s deliveries of KC-46 tankers, Congress and the public learned of the latest shutdown forced by the discovery of more Foreign Object Debris in finished planes.
This time, outgoing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told the chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and power projection subcommittee, that: “We actually stopped again the acceptance of KC-46s again after Foreign Object Debris was found in closed compartments.”
Rep. Joe Courtney may have been briefed before the hearing began since he asked Wilson for an update on the FOD issue, citing this second discovery. Also, he did not appear surprised at Wilson’s answer
“The Air Force again halted acceptance of new KC-46 tanker aircraft as we continue to work with Boeing to ensure that every aircraft delivered meets the highest quality and safety standards,” the Air Force said in a statement released after Wilson made her comments on Capitol Hill. “This week our inspectors identified additional foreign object debris and areas where Boeing did not meet quality standards. 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.
“The decision to halt acceptance,” the statement notes, “was made on March 23, 2019.”
I contacted Boeing spokesman Chick Ramey for comment.
“To put it in perspective, this was based on findings from spot inspections of closed areas that were required as part of the original corrective action plan,” Ramey said. “The USAF is requiring the inspections be expanded to all aircraft before further deliveries are allowed. We’ll continue to work with them on upcoming delivery dates. Resolving this issue is a company and program priority – we are committed to delivering FOD-free aircraft to the Air Force. Although we’ve made improvements to date, we can do better. We are currently conducting additional company and customer inspections of the jets and have implemented preventative action plans. 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. Safety and quality are our highest priority.”
The Air Force has taken delivery of seven KC-46As so far.