Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Where is the Tanker Maintenance Outrage?

A recurring comment we hear from KC-30 supporters, and in particular those from a certain state the KC-30 may eventually be assembled, is that Boeing lost and should, "Just get over it."

We at Tanker War Blog understand this frustration to a certain extent, but we really think that such outrage should be saved for a far more deserving and local company; Alabama Aircraft Aircraft Industries, Inc (AAII), formally known as Pemco Aviation.

Because, no matter how much one thinks Boeing's protest is holding up the delivery of new tankers, using that same logic, AAII's actions have been much worse.

As most readers to this blog know, the KC-X, now called the KC-45, will eventually replace the current Eisenhower era KC-135s. In 2007, Alabama Aircraft lost the Air Force maintenance contract for the KC-135 to Boeing. Alabama Aircraft then protested this decision and forced the Air Force to stop Boeing's work on the KC-135 maintenance covered by the contract.

Reuters reports that this stop work order was only lifted late last week:
"As a result of the GAO's decision, the suspension on your award of 10 Sep 2007 is hereby lifted," the Air Force told Boeing in a document obtained by Reuters.

Alabama Aircraft,...had won its first protest against the contract award in December, but filed a second protest in March after the Air Force again awarded the contract to Boeing.

So Boeing rightfully protests a replacement tanker contract, and KC-30 supporters have all but started to blame them for the deaths of tanker crews. But, Alabama Aircraft has been holding up KC-135 tanker maintenance since September 2007 and they are given a pass!

Not getting new tankers as fast as one may like is regrettable, but not being able to fix the old tankers you do have, and that desperately need repair, is worse; much, much worse.

Also, don't think for a second that Alabama Aircraft Industry, Inc. has given up. No, in fact according to Aero-News.net:
AAII President Ron Aramini issued a statement explaining, "While we are disappointed with the GAO's latest decision, we fully intend to continue to press our case until the Air Force has conducted a full and fair evaluation of proposals. We believe that a proper evaluation would result in the selection of AAII as the highest quality and lowest cost source for the maintenance of the Air Force's KC-135 fleet."

So two GAO rulings and two Air Force contract selections are not enough to satisfy those in the Alabama aerospace industry?

By that standard you would expect them to wait patiently and quietly while Boeing is allowed to go a couple more rounds with the GAO and Air Force. But, that of course assumes these Airbus/EADS supporters don't have a double standard, or are not just using aircrew safety as a PR pandering gimmick.


Anonymous said...

what does AAII have to do with Northrop? Not a thing or the Tanker protest Boeing did that. Air crew safety you care nothing about it only covering Boeing and tossing out misinformation as usual. Go bash a panda!

Anonymous said...

You're right.


The USAF should have been getting new Tankers in 2001. It's now 2008 and as a result of Boeing's actions, twice (contractual fraud and then protest after losing the second time around) have caused many delays adding almost another 10 years to the life of the already ancient Tankers.

Anonymous said...

The stop-work order applied to Boeing beginning their PDM contract. The planes have been going through their PDM cycles (At AAII) as scheduled under a stopgap.

This was not a new contract to either AAII or Boeing. In fact, AAII was a subcontractor to Boeing prior to the new PDM bidding. In reality, they were performing the same work as Boeing.

What will happen now is AAII will finish the planes they are currently maintaining, but will not receive any new ones. NO AIRMEN WERE PUT AT RISK AT ANY POINT.

Second to last paragraph from the bottom.

Alabama Aircraft wins contract reprieve in Air Force case

You really ought to do some research for FACTS before posting “news” and “analysis” that imply the Alabama aerospace industry and its workers would rather have a contract over safety of flight.

On a related note, I don’t see the Alabama congressional delegation threatening to pull funding from KC-135 PDM budget regardless of what the GAO said.

Anonymous said...

i guess it goes to show how well the first ones were made.

Anonymous said...

They must of been some really well built tankers to last this long Hmmmm