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Air Platforms

Boeing to produce first KC-46 without post-build modifications this month

10 May 2018
One of two Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial refuelling tanker aircraft in production at a company facility in metropolitan Seattle, Washington. Source: IHS Markit/Pat Host

Key Points

  • Boeing will soon produce its first KC-46 that will not require post-build modifications
  • Many of these modifications were related to wiring issues

Boeing in May will, for the first time, produce a KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling tanker that will not require post-build modifications, according to a company official.

KC-46 vice-president and program manager Mike Gibbons told reporters on 3 May here at a company facility that the aircraft, tail number 1149, will proceed to the company’s finishing centre, where the refuelling boom and classified military avionics will be installed prior to checkout.

Gibbons said Boeing had been modifying aircraft post-production to rectify issues it found during flight test or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification, or simply other problems that needed to be fixed. He said this had cost a lot of money as Boeing was working a hot production line while also completing development.

Boeing spokesperson Charles Ramey said on 9 May that these re-work issues were mostly related to wiring, which he said have evolved to incorporate producibility improvements in later blocks of aircraft. He said all prior aircraft had some post-build modifications, but the amount of these decreased over time.

“We are incorporating design and process improvements in line, especially to reduce wiring complexity at critical junction regions on the aircraft,” Ramey said. “[We] have also incorporated 3D production illustration to improve wire bundle installation.”

Ramey said Boeing, moving forward, does not expect to have to make post-build modifications, but just completing the finishing centre/military systems install work. Ramey said that aircraft 1149 appears to be one of the first 18 aircraft that will be delivered, but that Boeing and the US Air Force (USAF) were still working on a final plan as to when certain aircraft will be delivered.

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