Boeing’s [BA] delivery of the first KC-46A Pegasus tanker to the U.S. Air Force has been pushed back again, as the company continues to experience delays in completing flight tests and obtaining airworthiness certifications, the service said late March 6.
The U.S. Air Force, which had previously expected to receive the first KC-46A in late spring (Defense Daily, June 8, 2017), now projects that the milestone is likely to occur late this year. The new estimate is based on a “schedule risk assessment” that the Air Force recently conducted with Boeing.
Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group, told Defense Daily that the new date is “not a big deal” if it holds. “But looking at history, nobody would bet against additional delays,” he added.
The Air Force announcement represents the latest in a series of delays for the refueling aircraft program. Boeing was originally expected to deliver the first plane in early 2016 and the first 18 by August 2017.
Boeing said in a statement that it is working with the Air Force to deliver the first 18 jets “as quickly as possible.”
Under its contract with Boeing, the Air Force considers the company responsible for added costs caused by the delays.
“These potential delays will not result in additional cost to the taxpayer,” the service said.
The Air Force also said it “will continue to work with Boeing to develop schedule mitigations, where appropriate, to expedite the program.”
The KC-46A received the first of two airworthiness certifications from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) late last year (Defense Daily, Dec. 21, 2017). The amended type certificate verifies that the modified 767 jetliner, without its aerial refueling system installed, is safe and reliable.
The KC-46A still needs to obtain a supplemental type certificate, which would approve the military systems that make the aircraft a tanker.