Boeing’s In on T-X

Boeing submitted its proposal for the Air Force’s T-X advanced pilot training system on Tuesday, two days ahead of the deadline, company program manager Ted Torgerson told reporters during a company teleconference Wednesday. The 90 days of preparation since the service released its request for proposals was “proposal hell,” Torgerson said, but all the required basic flight data, collected with the No. 1 aircraft, have been submitted, he reported. Boeing is about to fly its second T-X, and will continue flying both aircraft into June, when additional flight data may be submitted. Torgerson emphasized that the T-X is “all about the entire training system, not just the airplane,” and reported that the ground-based training system that goes with Boeing’s proposal is functioning well, having trained some five pilots so far. Torgerson observed that the aircraft went from design to flight in less than two years, and asserted that Boeing can meet the Air Force’s requirement of reaching Milestone C—readiness for production—in 2022 and initial operational capability in 2024.

“There is different instrumentation” in Boeing’s two jets, which he described not as prototypes but as “EMD [engineering and manufacturing development] … representative” aircraft that are very similar to the final configuration. The first one, he said, was configured to collect the basic data required in the RFP, while the second will expand the envelope. It hasn’t flown yet because Boeing is being mindful of cost and not spending money unless necessary, Torgerson said, and it was a testbed to prove out “repeatable manufacturing” methods. The No. 1 jet has flown as many as four sorties a day, which “shows the robustness of the design,” Torgerson asserted. An announcement of where the aircraft would be built if Boeing wins will be coming “soon,” he said, but final assembly will take place in the US. Boeing is partnered with Saab of Sweden on the T-X program.