More problems for Air Force’s new KC 46 tankers

Those troubled new KC-46 tankers at Altus Air Force base in Southwest Oklahoma and McConnell Air Force base in Wichita, Kansas might have another problem—leading fuel lines.

Boeing Co., already behind in its production of the new air refueling tankers revealed this week it added leaking fuel lines as a new Category 1 deficiency on the tanker according to a report by the Wichita Business Journal.

While the service said in a statement that the issue of “excessive fuel leaks” was first discovered during testing last summer, it has now placed it in the most serious category ranking of problems.

Boeing will have to cover the cost of related fixes, and the Air Force says it has enhanced testing prior to delivery so that potential leaks can be fixed before leaving the company’s factory.

A Boeing spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from the WBJ.

The manufacturer has had difficulties for years on the tanker program, which has already cost it more than $3 billion in overruns and led to it being nearly two years late when it finally began arriving to the Air Force in early 2019.

Those first tankers came to McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, which is the main operating base for the tanker and is now home to around two dozen of the jets.  Others arrived at Altus Air Force base in Oklahoma where training for pilots is conducted.

McConnell will eventually be home to 36 of the 179 tankers that Boeing intends to build for the Air Force.

The tanker is based on the company’s 767, which includes a forward fuselage that is built at Spirit AeroSystems Inc. (NYSE: SPR) in Wichita.

At the time deliveries began, both Boeing and the Air Force knew there would be needed fixes to the tanker’s remote vision system and refueling boom — the latter of which is being covered by the service.

Boeing has also been beset with problems since deliveries began, including debris left behind on the tankers in the manufacturing process and issues with the locking mechanisms that secure cargo pallets and passenger seating sections.

Boeing’s defense division is led by former Wichitan Leanne Caret, who became that unit’s CEO in early 2016.

Source: Wichita Business Journal