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Singapore Airlines Airbus A380  (Source: Associated Press)

Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy  (Source: Air Mobility Command)

Air Force One
Boeing may have some competition when it comes to the replacement for Air Force One

Things are finally starting to look up for Airbus' troubled A380 superjumbo program. The first production A380 was delivered to Singapore Airlines on Monday in Toulouse, France. The plane was then flown from France to Changi Airport in Singapore where it will await final preparations for its first scheduled flight on October 25.

The A380, however, is making an even bigger splash in the news world for a completely different reason. Flight Global reports that the U.S. Air Force (USAF) is looking at the A380 as a replacement for two aircraft programs: a replacement for the Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy and as a replacement for the Boeing 747-200B (VC-25A) used as Air Force One.

The C-5 Galaxy made its maiden flight on June 30, 1968 and first entered service in June of 1970. The USAF Air Mobility Command (AMC) requested information on the A380F freighter last year as a possible replacement for use as a heavy military airlifter.

Plans to upgrade the existing C-5 Galaxy fleet are estimated to run 50 to 100 percent over budget according to the USAF and Airbus' new A380F would make an ideal, modern and cost-efficient platform.

In addition, the USAF is looking at the A380 as a replacement for the current Air Force One which was introduced in 1990. Boeing isn't giving up the fight, however. The company is well aware of the competitive efforts involved in finding a replacement for the VC-25A and is offering up a 747-8 which uses new wings and engines for increased fuel efficiency.

Boeing has provided jet-powered transportation for the President dating back to the Boeing 707 first used by John F. Kennedy.

Airbus' A380 superjumbo has been the subject of more than a few articles on DailyTech. The A380 was delayed in September of last year due to wiring problems -- a month later; Airbus announced that deliveries of the aircraft would be delayed by an entire year.

In November 2006, FedEx dumped the A380 and instead decided to go with Boeing's 777. A few months later in March 2007, UPS announced that it too would cancel its orders for the A380F. The UPS cancellation meant that Airbus had lost its last A380F customer.



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I really doubt this will happen
By ninjit on 10/19/2007 1:25:43 PM , Rating: 5
Senators from Seattle will throw a fit before the USAF can replace any boeings with Airbus models (a European company).

And especially for something as public as Airforce One. You really think the president (present or future, democrat or republican) could keep face flying around the country in a European made plane while "supporting" domestic industry?




RE: I really doubt this will happen
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/19/2007 1:31:08 PM , Rating: 5
The next gen Marine One helicopter is an Italian-British design.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VH-71


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By RamarC on 10/19/2007 1:48:21 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
The next gen Marine One helicopter is an Italian-British design.

ital-brit design but built and manufactured by lockeed-martin and bell (both US corporations).

with globalization, the definition of an 'american' product is getting fuzzy. (gm owns opel whose cars are basis of most of the saturn line, so is a saturn an american car or a european car?)

still, airbus is wholly foreign so i think any airbus air force 1 will have a negative stigma.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By Eris23007 on 10/19/2007 3:30:42 PM , Rating: 2
...unless Northrop Grumman or Lockheed Martin decides to partner with Airbus to compete with Boeing on a program like this (as NG is doing on the KC-X tanker replacement program with the Airbus A330, and as LM is doing on the VH-71 helo as previously mentioned).

I wouldn't rule this out...


By Chillin1248 on 10/19/2007 6:27:54 PM , Rating: 2
The U.S Army requistioned a brand new rifle [M4 - i.e. Colt Model 720] since the exclusive Colt licensing ran out on the M16s (to the likes of FN, etc); trust me that there is no reason a M16 can't be modified to have the same outfit as a M4.

I have seen here in the IDF M16A1 lower recievers with M16A2 uppers and either Colt Commando type barrels or the M4 "Heavy" barrels with an older folding stock.

Here is to give an idea to the different combinations:
http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=123&t=...

So I highly doubt that they will be shelling out for something as symbolic as the Presidents plane to a foreign company.

-------
Chillin


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By Souka on 10/19/2007 1:31:49 PM , Rating: 2
Why would Seattle senators throw a fit?

Two problems with that statement...

1. Senators represent states, not cities...
2. Boeing is headquartered outside Washinton state...they moved...


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By ninjit on 10/19/2007 1:46:59 PM , Rating: 5
2 problems with those problems:

1. I said Seattle, to emphasize Boeing manufacturing.
And you don't think Senators would be concerned about industry jobs in and around the largest city in their state? Besides which, Senator Maria Cantwell does really live in Seattle.

2. Boeing's headquarters may have moved, but 50% of their employee's are still in Washington, where they do most of their manufacturing.


By retrospooty on 10/19/2007 2:23:36 PM , Rating: 1
"And you don't think Senators would be concerned about industry jobs in and around the largest city in their state? Besides which, Senator Maria Cantwell does really live in Seattle."

They might be, they might not be it depends on how much money Airbus gives them.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/19/2007 2:26:59 PM , Rating: 2
We're talking two planes AT THE MOST for Air Force One. It's not like Boeing is gonna cut jobs over two planes.

Any opposition to Airbus being used as Air Force One wouldn't be on the basis of job losses or manufacturing capacity... it would be a purely symbolic blow IMHO.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By soydios on 10/19/2007 4:11:30 PM , Rating: 3
It's a prestige thing. Symbolic differences often translate into sales figure changes.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By masher2 (blog) on 10/19/2007 1:47:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Boeing is headquartered outside Washinton state
Manufacturing is still based in the Seattle area, however. Boeing is still one of the area's largest employers. If they lose business, Seattle will feel it hardest.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By Souka on 10/19/2007 3:50:43 PM , Rating: 3
Actually "manufacturing" is mostly out of state.

Washington state Boeing plane facilities are mostly "assembly".

Manfuacturing is done in Cali, Alabama, and other countries.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By Ringold on 10/19/2007 2:37:31 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
1. Senators represent states, not cities...


Correct, if this were 1912. Since 1913 Senators represent their constituents and therefore are pandering hoes which only get held to account once every six years rather than every two. The Civil War put states interests in the coffin, the 17th Amendment buried the coffin in an umarked grave. Senators would therefore be, and are, very keen on protecting their local labor interests. Losing a Boeing facility would be something of a political liability for both parties I'd reckon.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By UNCjigga on 10/19/2007 1:35:46 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed--I don't think Airbus could win a contract for Air Force One. USAF is just including them in the bid process to keep Boeing on their toes.

However, it'd be interesting to see if Airbus chases the C-5 replacement contract. I would imagine the A380F was all but cancelled (as DT notes there are currently no customers.) But if American taxpayers can foot the bill for development, Airbus can build the A380F and woo international shippers back to the showroom. I'm sure there's enough pork in a defense contract for Airbus to design two planes (one mil-spec, one commercial) for the price of one! :)


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By ikkeman on 10/19/2007 1:52:56 PM , Rating: 2
no footing of bills nescecary. The A380F was almost done when the plug was pulled because airbus needed all availiable engineers for the rewiring isseus, and because the 747-8F promised to be good enough for the freight carriers (before these isseus, both UPs and Fedex (and a 3rd?) had 380F's on order)


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By Treckin on 10/25/2007 7:59:05 PM , Rating: 1
Im sure you could look at a basic PPC and see that at some point, pulling off certain types of engineers does little to expedite a mechanical problem...

The law a diminishing returns, as well as common sense; not ALL of the engineers working on the 380f would have any clue how to deal with a fucking wiring issue.

The project was nixed because it was no longer profitable. Period. Don’t over-analyze simple problems.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By weskurtz0081 on 10/19/2007 3:52:08 PM , Rating: 2
NO way will they replace the C-5 with the A380 unless they do a MAJOR redesign of the gears, and loading areas. The aircraft would need at least one ramp in the rear, and probably one in the front like the C-5. It needs to be able to kneel for loading and unloading. I would need to be MUCH lower to the ground in order to accommodate drive on and off capabilities. The C-5 eat the 747 out of the race for this very reason, and it's ability to carry over sized cargo.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By timmiser on 10/19/2007 7:03:58 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Whoever suggested the A380 would/could replace a C5A doesn't know much about airplanes.

On the other hand, I believe the Air Force one/A380 is merely a benchmarking exercise to keep a level of competition present for their bid with Boeing.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By weskurtz0081 on 10/19/2007 10:36:10 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, they probably just want Boeing to think that they have competition for better bang for the buck.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By Gul Westfale on 10/20/2007 12:19:28 AM , Rating: 1
the US president always drives a lincoln or a cadillac, not an arguably better mercedes or BMW (although presidential limos are always custom built, so they are obviously better equipped and built than standard models for mere mortals).
it's simply a matter of showing some national pride, something required in politics.

of course, if the the A380 allows the government to use the extra space and/or range for some equipment they think is really vital then they might go with airbus... after playing up the fact that the plane uses some US-made components... :)

also, there are several air force ones, not just one. whatever plane the president currently flies with at that moment is referred to as air force one; in addition, several planes are outfitted to act as airborne command posts in a crisis. so the A380 should be used for very specific purposes only, but not for every day operations.


By weskurtz0081 on 10/20/2007 3:36:05 PM , Rating: 2
We were mainly talking about replacing the C-5. But for arguments sake, I think they are just exploring options and trying to put pressure on Boeing and Lockheed. In the end, any heavy the AF buys will probably be a Boeing.


By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 10/24/2007 8:42:29 AM , Rating: 2
Consider the Buy American Act which precludes the US government from purchasing foreign end products when there are domestic equivalents available, with some minor exceptions. http://www.arnet.gov/far/current/html/Subpart%2025...

I think perhaps the USAF was doing a little reconaissance for Boeing.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By jdun on 10/24/2007 9:47:49 PM , Rating: 2
The replacement for the C-5 is the C-17 which is made by Boeing.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By ChipDude on 10/20/07, Rating: -1
RE: I really doubt this will happen
By DestruyaUR on 10/20/2007 2:54:40 AM , Rating: 2
It'll never happen for four reasons:

1) The 747-200 was chosen over the 747-400 because the 200 is more structurally sound. The A380 was built for profit on long-haul long-distance routes, not necessarily safety. The -200 airframe was also chosen for the E-4B. The reason for this was the dramatic altering of the airframe to incorporate extra weight (the 'tumor' on the E-4B) and also the addition of in-flight refueling architecture. They wanted the most "solid" plane they could get their hands on before modifying it.

2) Paranoia. China accused us of bugging a few 777s they bought from Boeing for diplomatic use. Secondly the prospect of having to use European sub-contractors to assist the Air Force in complex maintenance will be a nonstarter.

3) The plane's size will actually further limit the amount of airfields serviceable by Air Force One, which is already a problem with the 747 airframe. Some airfields flat out won't permit A380s because they fear they'll damage or crack the runways.

4) The airframe and avionics have been dogged by delay and skepticism.

Look for the venerable VC-25A 747 Air Force One to be "augmented" in the near future by a 787 Dreamliner fleet to enable senior staff, dignitaries, and the President to visit places that normally couldn't be accessed by a 747 due to airfield limitations.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By Plasmoid on 10/20/2007 10:17:21 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with you on some sub points. im not so sure about the others.

Firstly, at the end of the day a 747 is a 747, its not very structurally sound by any standard, its a damn passenger airliner. Its not going to take a lot to blow the it up. Its best defences are the rest of the Air Force and its contermeasures. As regards landing and that, a 70's design with some retrofitted 80's improvements really cant stand up to a 00's design with 00's materials, as seen by the 787's wings being ridiculously strong.

2) Maybe, maybe... but at the end of the day if your paranoid enough to not trust your European allies your paranoid enough not to trust one of your bigger defence contractors. And the air force will just train up a crew of mechanics to do the maintenance... you dont see the navy calling in british engineers to patch up harriers now do you?

3) Not being able to use certain air fields for fear of cracking the runways is a bit of FUD. The A380 is designed as a drop in replacement for the 747, if it was breaking runways it would not have been ordered. The wheels distribute the weight out so its not a whole lot worse then a 747. Its dimensions are marginally wider then a 747, one of the big design challenges. And at the end of the day, cracking a runway in an emergency (which is when you would use some crappy runway that cant handle a 747 and taking Marine one isnt an option) isnt the end of the world.

4) The Skepticism mostly from Boeing, and the delays due to wiring. The Airframe is sound... but the passengers want entertainment systems. The Freight model is ready to go. I do accept that the Air Force is not going to a take a plane that hasent proven itself with a few years of air service under its belt... but then thats the kind of thing they did with the orignal 747.


By weskurtz0081 on 10/20/2007 3:50:14 PM , Rating: 2
Just wanted to make a point. You made the comment that the 747 is not very structurally sound because it was a passenger airliner. Well, they also use a good number of them for freight, they turned one into the Super Tanker, the 747 was also competing for the spot that the C-5 won. The 747 is probably overall a better jet than the C-5, just couldn't get on its knees and take it from both ends. A 747 could take a hit from a SAM, they will generally take out an engine, and a good pilot could still land it. They are tough planes and I disagree that they are not structurally sound.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By Samus on 10/20/2007 5:40:09 PM , Rating: 1
It's that attitude that prevents our Government from running Linux and trading with Cuba.

That's the problem with patriotism.


RE: I really doubt this will happen
By mdogs444 on 10/21/2007 8:05:08 AM , Rating: 1
That is not a problem with patriotism, in fact it has nothing to do with being a patriot.

The fact is our government does not support communism, and part of not supporting communism is not doing anything to better the communist government.

Why do you think all these cuban's on a daily basis attempt to flea cuba to the US?

On another note, what the hell do you care if the government does not want to use a Linux OS? Why dont you stop complaining about it, go into IT, and get a job with the government if you want to persuade them to change. I personally see absolutely no reason that they should use Linux.

Its stupid to bash the government for not supporting communism, and not wanting to use your choice of OS.


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