Boeing hopes to start building first plane next year

There has never been as much drama generated by a military program to replace an aging aircraft fleet in history as there was with the battle over the aircraft company that would produce the USAF's replacement aerial tanker. Boeing finally won the bid in February 2011, and the company has been very tightlipped since winning the contract.
Boeing has now announced that it intends to start building components for the first of the Air Force KC-46A tankers this fall and hopes to begin assembling the first aircraft a year from now. Boeing KC-46A Vice President and program manager Maureen Dougherty was asked why Boeing hadn't talked much about the aircraft since winning the contract.
Dougherty said, "We felt, but I really felt, it was critically important to spend this year ensuring that we had a solid foundation."
Dougherty also noted that the budget estimates on aircraft project have not changed. The development phase of the program is expected to cost $5.1 billion, $300 million above the Defense Department's $4.8 billion contract ceiling. Dougherty continued, "We have not changed our projection. At this stage of the game, we’re performing very well to plan and we have no reason to change the projection at this time."

In the 16 months since winning the contract Boeing has successfully set up five different development laboratories and finalized the design of the aircraft. “We’ll be doing a lot of testing … starting in October over the course of the next couple of years before we ever get to an airplane,” Dougherty said.
The different labs that Boeing has set up the aircraft will develop new software and other components required to make aircraft functional. There are labs for lighting and a wet fuel lab that will perform boom work. The refueling boom that the new tanker aircraft will use is based on the boom used on the current KC-10 tanker.
Boeing intends to build the new tanker aircraft based on the existing 767 production line in Everett Washington and then to perform finishing work at Boeing Field in Seattle. 

Source: Air Force Times

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