It is “simply unacceptable” that trash, tools, nuts and bolts ended up scattered inside aircraft, which is why the Air Force will keep tabs on Boeing according to Dr. Will Rope, a top acquisition official with the military
There is no end of bad news for Boeing with the Air Force’s top acquisition official now launching a blistering attack against company.
Dr. Will Roper says the aircraft manufacturer has a ‘severe situation’ after flawed inspections of its new KC-46 air refueling tanker aircraft found trash and industrial tools still inside after they had been delivered.
The Air Force then decided to stop accepting Boeing’s KC-46 tankers as of February 20, saying the issue was not with the aircraft itself but with the process in place for building the aircraft.
Deliveries of the jet were halted last month when ‘foreign object debris’ was found in one of the aircraft.
Boeing has since offered to inspect all the aircraft that were accepted by the Air Force adding that a couple of airplanes were nearing acceptance in the coming days.
Boeing delivered the first KC-46A in January, more than a year late following a series of production and design problems
Dr. Roper who is the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics made his concerns clear his concerns after visiting Boeing’s Everett Washington plant where the plane is assembled.
‘I left concerned, and I also left thinking Boeing understands they have a severe situation that’s going to take top level engagement from their company,’ Roper said to
‘It’s going to take more than a year of measuring and tracking Boeing’s performance until we’re confident that they follow their procedures, and maybe longer than that before we believe the culture of quality has come back,’ Roper said.
Roper re-visited the plant again on Monday and managed to secure a promise from the company for a new inspection plan which will see deliveries resuming as upgraded inspections are completed.
The Air Force suspended deliveries in February after finding tools and other debris left indide
The KC-46 plays a critical role in the refueling of military aircraft around the world. Six aircraft that had already been received were re-inspected by the Air Force.
‘We are doing more stringent inspections so we feel confident before we accept any plane from Boeing,’ Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told the news network.
Although the discovery of trash and tools inside the planes is not a result of design flaw, or even a specific safety concern, Air Force officials privately told CNN they were aware that the timing of the problem is exceptionally sensitive for Boeing after the grounding of its 737 Max jet.
Roper emphasized to reporters that while the issue of the material and objects — known as Foreign Object Debris, or FOD– being left inside an aircraft as it comes off the production line is not a design or safety risk, it is a matter of great concern to the military.
Deliveries resumed this week after Boeing instituted fresh measures to check the aircraft, and the company now has handed over seven planes out of 52
‘FOD is really about every person, everyone in the workforce, following those procedures and bringing a culture of discipline for safety,’ Roper said.
‘Culture is something that I’m not going to believe because we have a good month, or a good two months, that the culture is back. I’m going to believe it when I see month after month for a long time that yes, those practices are now things that aren’t just being done because they have to be done, they are being done because the workforce says, “This is a product we deliver to the Air Force,”‘ he added.
Boeing are now going to conduct spot inspections on the aircraft during production, including specific areas of the planes that may be sealed as part of the production processes.
‘I certainly think they are going to have to have a good team,’ to carry out the new inspection program, Roper said.