Air Force to resume KC-46 acceptance in coming weeks

April 9, 2019 at 4:57 PM

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -- The Air Force expects to begin accepting KC-46 deliveries again in two weeks after additional foreign object debris discoveries halted acceptance a second time.

Service acquisition executive Will Roper told reporters Tuesday at the Space Symposium here the Air Force plans to accept two tankers this month, once prime contractor Boeing completes extensive reviews of the aircraft.

As part of a new slate of safety procedures, Boeing must now inspect the inside of the aircraft's fuel tank before it delivers it to the Air Force -- an extensive review that Roper said can't be performed on the production line.

"That's not just something you can go out to the production line and take fuel out of the airplanes. That has to go to a separate facility," he said. "So, Boeing is working on how to work the logistics of that."

The Air Force initially halted tanker acceptance in late February after a FOD incident, lifting the hold March 11 after Boeing agreed to a 13-step corrective action plan to improve production-line safety process. The service placed a new acceptance hold March 23 after FOD was discovered in some of closed compartments on the plane.

"Think of this as the second tip of the same iceberg," Roper told reporters Tuesday. "We told Boeing if we found FOD we're going to shut down the line again, and we're going to create even more stringent inspection procedures for both Boeing and [the Defense Contract Management Agency]."

Roper said Boeing will pay for any costs associated with the production line improvements and noted he is confident the company's leadership is working to bring "a high-quality assurance culture" back to the production plant in Everett, WA.