Wednesday, April 9, 2008

May the Best Aircraft Win

I find it funny that Boeing has lost a $40 billion contract for tankers to Airbus, the European consortium that builds the likes of the A340, A380, and in this case the A330 MRTT / KC-45, which is a modified A330-200. This entire thing is like a calamity of errors and pure stupidity. Boeing put forth it's 767, not nearly as capable an aircraft for the tanker mission as it's 777. Airbus put forth its A330 which has variations that compete with both the 767 and larger 777.

Congress meets and decides the A330 is better than the 767 and recommends its purchase and awards a contract. Did Boeing ever propose the 777? You guessed it - NO. The CEO of FedEx is on the panel and tells congress they are making a big mistake in not considering the 777. Duncan Hunter, a Congressman from California sounds the alarms and yet Congress persists in purchasing the A330. That's a fantastic idea - the 777 has outsold the A330 worldwide, it has a larger payload, range and fuel capacity - but alas Boeing has outsourced its brain and now has to play from behind to keep Airbus from claiming its $40 billion prize by filing a protest.

I commend Airbus for their efforts and zest in fighting for this contract, but do you think it as stupid as I do that we have a far more capable aircraft that can do even better than the one selected and both Boeing and Congress missed the proverbial boat? Oh well, with what the government saves by awarding the contract to Airbus they can pay unemployment to the saps at Boeing that got caught napping....or buy more $500 hammers.

1 comment:

Steele Street said...

In general I have to agree. I think that US Military is a customer that is best served by competition, and having multiple suppliers of tankers is far better than a single one.

As much as I know about aircraft, I cannot say that one particular aircraft would be better for the USAF mission than another. A smaller aircraft might be more efficient if the refueling or range requirements were limited. Certainly someone saw the A330 as a better fit than the B767. Besides, so much of the A330 will be built by Northrop, it is hardly a jobs issue.

On the other hand, what I find strange, is that each program, the A330 and the B767, are essentially obselete designs.

It reminds me of how the USAF bought the B707 for years after it ceased passenger production.

Production of the passenger 707 ended in 1978, while military variants remained in production until 1991.

I think the question is why is the airforce buying such outdated equipment from either Boeing or Airbus?