Wednesday, April 30, 2008

EADS Tanker Grounded: Revenge of the Bobbittboom

For all the talk of proven technology and the working boom on the EADS/Airbus A330-based tanker, we now find that the Australian A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), with the prototype EADS boom has been grounded since March because of boom issues.

Boeing has stated in the past that EADS "continue(s) to struggle with the development of the boom they've proposed for the...tanker. Reports indicate their boom is not expected to be operational until late 2010." And Boeing reported that the Air Force had been very concerned about the EADS boom during the contract selection process.

EADS has countered that its "boom has been built, and successfully tested."

"The Australian Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), the first developmental Airbus A330-based tanker, has been grounded since March while receiving new parts for its refueling boom system.

...The MRTT is expected to return to flight by September, according to Tim Paynter, a Northrop Grumman spokesman. He declined to provide dates for when the A330-based boom is expected to transfer fuel in flight to a receiver.

What is actually being done to the boom during this period is a bit murky."

A bit murky is right! The NG/EADS team has ridiculed Boeing as providing a Frankentanker but as this article points out, EADS has what could be described as the Bobbitboom. (In honor of John Bobbitt and his loving wife Loretta who previously lived in wedded bliss right down the road from DC in Manassas, Virginia.)

The Bobbittboom is currently on an A310 but EADS hopes to have it surgically attached to the A330 and fully functional by 2009 . As the article states:

"EADS has developed this boom specifically to compete with Boeing in the international tanker market. The boom on the A330 has not yet been extended during flight.

The boom system has been flying on an A310 test bed conducting various risk reduction activities."

[The article goes on to say that the Australian tanker program has been restructured "to allow more time for development."]

We are somewhat sure there is a pill these days that can help with the failure to "extend" problem, but as for the boom reattachment to the A330...well your guess is as good as ours.


Anonymous said...

Count the number of Corporate people with Pentagon connections and part time hourly lobbyists and you can see who is most worried.

Skip Anderson said...

How many test hours does oeing have on their new boom design? Or is it just going to work perfectly?

Tanker War Blog said...

Skip, We contacted someone we know at Boeing and they assured us that with 60+ years of flying booms, theirs will work. She also said something about EADS suffering form some sort of envy but we think it was meant as a joke.

Aurora said...

How on earth can the Air Force have evaluated the European Airbus as being less risky?

Anonymous said...

Boeing assured a lot of people that their virtual border system was going to work and we've found out where that ended up.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic work citing a news article that's quoting a Boeing exec's speculation. Top notch Boeing spin.

When Boeing has a boom built, they can begin to comment.

Tanker War Blog said...

Hmm. You have a point about the comments coming from Boeing.
We'll change the wording to say "And Boeing reported that the Air Foce was concenrned...".

Tanker War Blog

Anonymous said...

"How on earth can the Air Force have evaluated the European Airbus as being less risky?"

In my opinion Air Force doesn't bother about the boom at all. US Air Force expects the tanker to enter service in 2013. In between EADS has a lot of time to fix the proposed boom for the Royal Australian Air Force. In case everything will go wrong US Air Force can order a fourth-generation Boeing boom.

Boeing proposed a sixth-generation boom to US Airforce. Is the fifth-generation boom for Japan already working?

Anonymous said...

"Is the fifth-generation boom for Japan already working?"
Yes, it is. Airbus' is not. What was your point?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered splitting the Contract? It seems that Boeing could probably get their tanker in the air faster, while having the EADS tanker take the time to get the kinks worked out. Then for the follow on there will be real world data to base an extended buy on. If the infrastructural changes required by the EADS tanker (Boeing assertion) are correct only a few bases would need the upgrades with a commitment to only 80-90 aircraft. Having Boeing keep building 767's will also keep options open for the E-10.

Anonymous said...

Which company build the primal boom for the KC-10? Does anybody knows.

davidj said...

Douglas designed it, under a seperate contract, and initially flight tested it on a kc135