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USAF halts receipt of Pegasus tankers again

02 April 2019
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A pair of Pegasus tankers being fitted out prior to delivery to the US Air Force. The customer has again stopped receiving aircraft from Boeing over FOD concerns. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Host

The US Air Force (USAF) has again halted receipt of new KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling aircraft from Boeing, days after it had supposedly resolved an issue with foreign object debris (FOD) that had previously stopped deliveries in March.

The new suspension was ordered by the service on 2 April after FOD was again found in aircraft being delivered from Boeing's production facility at Everett in Washington state. The USAF had already held off receiving aircraft from Boeing for 11 days during March while it seemingly dealt with the same issue.

"The air force [has] again halted acceptance of new KC-46 tanker aircraft as we continue to work with Boeing to ensure that every aircraft delivered meets the highest quality and safety standards," the USAF said, adding, "This week our inspectors identified additional foreign object debris and areas where Boeing did not meet quality standards."

The KC-46A is built on the same line at Everett that produces the 767 freighter on which it is based. Once the 'green' airframes are built, the aircraft is fitted with its military systems at Boeing's nearby finishing centre. To date the USAF has received seven of a planned 179 KC-46A tankers, with the first aircraft being located at McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) in Kansas and at Altus AFB in Oklahoma.

Boeing responded to the latest suspension of deliveries with a statement noting, "Resolving this issue is a company and programme priority - we are committed to delivering FOD-free aircraft to the air force. Although we have made improvements to date, we can do better."

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