WASHINGTON --- Although Boeing maintains it can deliver the first KC-46 by the end of the year, the Air Force now believes it will not accept the new tanker until late spring of 2018, the service announced Thursday.
Either way, the first delivery — originally scheduled for September — will be delayed at least a couple months.
"The top issues slowing progress are achieving the FAA airworthiness certifications and completing the flight test program," the Air Force said in a written statement issued days after the annual schedule risk assessment concluded. "Once Boeing receives the remaining design approvals from the FAA, they expect testing to proceed on a faster pace."
The FAA, or Federal Aviation Administration, is an aerospace regulatory agency of the United States government.
At this time, the Air Force hasn't altered its expectation that Boeing will be able to meet the October 2018 deadline for required assets available, or RAA, which call for the company to deliver 18 tankers and nine refueling pods. However, the service said it would have greater confidence in the schedule in July, when Boeing secures final design approvals from the FAA.
The announcement of a projected delay is no surprise. The Air Force has been telegraphing for weeks that the risk assessment would conclude that Boeing would need more time to complete key milestones. (end of excerpt)
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