Boeing’s Bonus Airplane

As part of the KC-46A tanker program, the Air Force will pay for the development, fabrication, and test of an interim aircraft that Boeing hopes to market as a commercial product, according to service and company officials. In the tanker’s test program, Boeing will deliver two aircraft as 767-2Cs—a new freighter variant that will lack refueling gear—and another two airplanes configured as all-up KC-46 tankers. The Air Force doesn’t see the situation as evidence that the US military is subsidizing the commercial aircraft industry. That’s a charge Europe has frequently lodged with the World Trade Organization. Maureen Dougherty, Boeing’s KC-46 program manager, said in a June 13 interview the 767-2C—which bridges from the 767-200ER to a configuration that the Air Force can use as the basis of the KC-46—is going to be a commercially available aircraft. However, the 767-2C will be “provisioned” for the tanker conversion, and may not be attractive to commercial customers without changes, said Air Force KC-46 program manager Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan. If Boeing wishes to market the aircraft, “that’s OK with us,” he told the Daily Report. But one should not construe the arrangement as a subsidy of a commercial project, he said. Click here to continue reading the full report.