Boeing Floats Two-Step Solution for KC-46 Cargo Issue

SSgt. Curtis Taylor, center, 60th Aerial Port Squadron air terminal operation center senior controller, prepares to load cargo onto a McConnell AFB, Kan., KC-46A Pegasus on Aug. 21, 2019, at Travis AFB, Calif. Air Force photo by SrA. Christian Conrad.

Boeing is proposing a two-step solution to address a major new deficiency with its KC-46 tanker, which limits the aircraft’s ability to carry personnel or cargo.

Air Mobility Command on Sept. 11 revealed the deficiency and the restrictions it imposed after multiple incidents in which cargo restraint devices broke open during operational test and evaluation flights. The locks were fully installed and inspected, but still malfunctioned during flight. “No cargo or equipment moved and there was no specific risk to the aircraft or crew,” AMC spokesman Col. Damien Pickart said.

Boeing, in a Sept. 13 statement, said the company and the Air Force team are “making good progress to resolve the issue.”

The company has suggested two paths, one an interim solution and one a long-term fix. For now, the company wants to use tie-down straps to secure the cargo.

“This solution is undergoing further analysis and will be shared with the USAF in the coming days,” the company said. “The straps will enable the USAF to resume some cargo operations.”

Secondly, the company is testing a “robust, longer-term fix” for the malfunctioning lock mechanism. Boeing said it will soon have results of its tests and will present the options to the Air Force early in the week of Sept. 15.

“We stand ready to implement any actions as quickly as possible,” Boeing said. “The safety of the KC-46 aircraft and crew is our top priority.”