Presidential Lessons

Boeing is applying two lessons as it pursues the VXX Presidential helicopter contract, Marco Di Gabriele, director of the company’s international helicopter business development, told reporters Wednesday in Arlington, Va. The company is offering the Boeing 101 helicopter, an AgustaWestland design to which Boeing recently acquired the rights, as one option for VXX. The 101 is the same airframe that Lockheed Martin successfully bid in the original Presidential helicopter contest. But the Defense Department subsequently cancelled that work due to its spiking costs and schedule slips. Di Gabrielle said lesson one is that Boeing “needs to acquire all the data rights from Agusta” to meet the customer’s needs without a lengthy and costly process of negotiating clearance. Lesson two, he said, is to “leverage . . .as much as possible” knowledge obtained on the previous VXX program to speed development. While VXX is a Navy program, it will be interesting to see how it influences the Air Force’s forthcoming HH-60G rescue helicopter recapitalization.