Some top U.S. military officials are not happy with Boeing after the aircraft manufacturer delivered KC-46 air refueling tanker airplanes fresh off the assembly line, some of which were cluttered with garbage and industrial tools.
Dr. Will Roper, the Air Force’s top acquisitions official, said that Boeing’s delivery of the planes to the Air Force in less than ideal condition shows the company has a “severe situation” on its hands. On Feb. 20, after discovering that some of the newly delivered tanker planes had debris and foreign objects left inside, the Air Force stopped accepting the deliveries from Boeing.
Although the presence of garbage and tools inside the planes doesn’t automatically translate to problems in design, function, or safety, it’s indicative of deeper problems at Boeing, Dr. Roper told CNN.
He said the presence of debris on the planes “is really about every person, everyone in the workforce, following those procedures and bringing a culture of discipline for safety.
“Culture is something that I’m not going to believe because we have a good month, or a good two months, that the culture is back. I’m going to believe it when I see month after month for a long time that yes, those practices are now things that aren’t just being done because they have to be done, they are being done because the workforce says, ‘This is a product we deliver to the Air Force,'” he told CNN.
Dr. Roper delivered the blistering words as Boeing faces another, larger crisis stemming from apparent control problems with its brand-new 737 Max 8 aircraft, which have been involved in two deadly crashes in five months, killing hundreds. The crashes, in Indonesia and Ethiopia, cast dark clouds over what has been a golden age in aviation.
CNN reports that Dr. Roper went to Boeing’s Everett, Washington, plant to discuss the problem with company officials. Boeing promised the Air Force a better inspection plan with special emphasis on sealed areas of the aircraft where debris may not be obvious. Deliveries will resume once the upgraded inspections are completed.