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US Air Force expecting KC-46 tanker deliveries in spring 2018

25 September 2017

Key Points

  • The USAF is expecting KC-46 deliveries later than Boeing anticipated
  • Delays cause programme costs to grow, though the USAF is shielded from much of the risk

The US Air Force (USAF) is expecting initial deliveries of the KC-46 aerial refuelling tanker later than prime contractor Boeing originally estimated, as the company has had issues obtaining Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifications.An artist's impression of Boeing's KC-46 tanker aircraft refuelling a C-17 Globemaster. The USAF said on 22 September that initial tanker deliveries are expected in the spring, later than prime contractor Boeing recently estimated. (Boeing)An artist's impression of Boeing's KC-46 tanker aircraft refuelling a C-17 Globemaster. The USAF said on 22 September that initial tanker deliveries are expected in the spring, later than prime contractor Boeing recently estimated. (Boeing)

USAF Brigadier General Donna Shipton, programme executive officer (PEO) for tankers, told reporters on 22 September that the service is expecting first deliveries in the spring. Boeing, she said, thought it could deliver by December, but the USAF believed that timeline was risky.

Boeing, Brig Gen Shipton said, has been working steadily towards achieving the required FAA amended type certificate and supplemental type certificate, but this is taking longer than the company previously anticipated. A type certificate is issued to aircraft that meet FAA airworthiness requirements. The FAA may amend a type certificate when the holder of the type certificate receives FAA approval to modify an aircraft design from its original design, according to the FAA. The KC-46 is a modified version of Boeing’s 767 commercial airliner.

An amended type certificate approves not only the modification, but also how that modification affects the original design. A supplemental type certificate is a type certificate issued when an applicant has received agency approval to modify an aeronautical product from its original design. The supplemental type certificate, which incorporates by reference the related type certificate, approves not only the modification, but how that modification affects the original design.

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