Tanker protest upheld

We just found out that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found in Boeing’s favor on a number of issues related to our protest of the U.S. Air Force’s award of the $35 billion aerial refueling tanker contract.


In response to the ruling, Boeing has released a statement from Mark McGraw, our vice president, Tanker Programs:

We welcome and support today’s ruling by the GAO fully sustaining the grounds of our protest.

We appreciate the professionalism and diligence the GAO showed in its review of the KC-X acquisition process. We look forward to working with the Air Force on next steps in this critical procurement for our warfighters.

Comments (17)

George (Raleigh, NC):

The good guys won a round. We might get the right plane yet. Keep up the good work.

John K (Eugene, Oregon):

This is good news from the GAO. That entire bid process seemed flawed and stacked against the Boeing bid. It seemed Air Force did not expect a full examination of all data and details. Maybe the truth will come out. My bet is on the Boeing bid.

Kinbin (Taipei):

Occasionally, one does get to enjoy real life drama as most often reflected in the movies....

"The good guy always wins"....

But alas, it comes too seldom and too far in-between.

However, this is only Round #2 of Umpteen number of rounds in the WBF match. Don't know if it qualifies as a TKO yet.

Round #1 to Northrop
Round #2 to Boeing.
Round #3 to ??????

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

That is good news for the builders, designers, and scientists at Boeing and for the Seattle - Everett
area in gained and sustained jobs in the 767 line
not to mention that the 767 tanker can be available earlier than the KC-45 as the 767 already has a production line made in the United States.

Though I would not be in favor of cancelling the KC-45 as it would create jobs in Mobile, Alabama, I think the order list to replace the rest of the KC- 135 is very high, 300 or more. The KC-45 may have the better position to replace the KC-10 Extender and maybe some KC-135s. The 767 should also be a good replacement for the E-3 Sentry and the E-8 Joint-STARS.

This is good news for the 767 passenger jet line for it's continuance, their are many markets that the 767 passenger airliner fits best, good for 3,000 to 5,500 mile segments, it is smaller than the 787 but can still make money for an airline.

Making the complaint to the GAO and being persistent has paid off for Boeing.

G (France):

So what's next? A big 747-8i order?

G (France):

Back to the future

"The concept is to provide airlines with an aircraft that is smaller than a 747, which is too big for many secondary-city pairs, or linking a major hub with a secondary city - such as Singapore to Manchester, London to San Diego or even Toulouse to Boston."

"The idea is to avoid the hubbing and spoking you require for the profitable operation of 747s," he said.

If you think it is all about the 787, then you are wrong.
Future of Long-Range Flying: Small Is Beautiful

Russell (everett, wa):

Lets not forget that this contract was flawed at the onset when won originally by Boeing. And now its delayed again and the Air Force doesn't have to bend to the GAO, fyi. As a BCA employee I'm happy that Boeing has not lost the fight yet and is still in the running for what will be a very lucrative contract and the hopeful further production of the 767 and sustained jobs for its direct employees.

As an American though I feel bad for our troops who now will have to wait even longer for a more modern Warfighter. Lets not forget that there are others who are even more greatly dependent on this tanker.


G: I'm not sure how relevent a 17-year old article is given the current state of the airline industry, fuel prices, and the post-9/11 world. I sure don't think the A-340 is the answer (and I don't think the airlines do, either). Also note, the article mentions the 767 as a right-sized alternative. Let's check: aren't the 787 and 767 about the same size?

G (France):


Today, we hear the same words but they are not said by the same people, they don't concern the same airplanes and they don't have the same meaning anymore.
That is exactly why the 17-year-old article is interesting.

By the way, congrats to Boeing for the power-on achievement.

Steve (Siggenthal Station, Switzerland):


I think your "feeling bad" may be misplaced. Ironically it is entirely possible that the GAO decision may actually result in new tanker deliveries to the USAF sooner, rather then later.

Taking into account the real state of affairs/readiness with the aircraft, and the need for Airbus to build 4 new plants, along with recruiting and training a workforce at the rented NG locations, a "delayed final selection of the B767" could very well be the faster path to the finish line of deliveries.

As you noted, the 767 based tanker would be built with an established and experienced plant/workforce. And maybe equally, or even more important, an established, experienced and stable running supplier base. By the time the Boeing team would be building tankers for the USAF they will have about 1000 units of experience on the basic aircraft, versus 0 for the "New Guys" (the true meaning of NG). I've been dealing with New Product Introduction process for about 23 years now, and this difference could easily cause delays for the NG's far greater than the time it takes to do a new bid process!

And besides the possibiliy for earlier deliveries, there are many other reasons why the B767 is a better choice for both the USAF, and the taxpayers!

So, don't don't feel bad, be glad!

Gene Morris (Seattle, Wa 98107):

It looks like Boeing actually would have won the contest, but not by much.

I think the offering has to be upgraded for the next round.
How about the 300 body, genex engines, and either the 400 wing or add the new winglets to the 300 wings?

Bob (Woodland, CA):

There has to be someone else besides me recognizing that the size of the aircraft made a difference, not the $$. NG proposed a larger aircraft than the 767 program, even though the specs didn't call for it. If this bid opens up again, Boeing should be on top of this and try offering up a 767-400 or a 777-200. I am afraid that if Boeing doesn't match what NG has put forward, they can kiss this bid goodbye a second time. This should not be about saving the 767 line, it should be about putting forth a competing aircraft. This is not the time to put up a Toyota Highlander (767) against a Lincoln Navigator (A330). Go get em' Boeing!!

John (NYC):


That was a very interesting article and I'm glad you shared it. One thing that I would note about it is that it seems to be predicated on the A340 being the aircraft that it was marketed as and expected to be in 1991. Unfortunately it fell far short of its original design goals.

Of particular note is that of the 5 airlines mentioned as looking forward to operating A340s, two, ANA and Northwest, never even took delivery of the final aircraft due to its performance deficits. In addition, a third, Singapore was very public about its dissatisfaction with the aircraft and ultimately replaced its A340-300s with other aircraft.

Thin, point-to-point long haul travel will only work when the efficiencies are right. It remains to be seen whether or not the 787 will live up to its billing.


to Bob in Woodland, CA:
as stated in the USAF RFP, this competition was to replace the KC135-, not the KC10-sized aircraft, in which case the 767AT is the right size to offer. I assume NG/EAD offered their plane because that's their current tanker platform, not because it was the best fit for the proposal. They admitted as much early on when they threatened to withdraw from the competition unless some changes were made to the RFP to make the KC-30 more acceptable.


We should dual source the KC-767 to both Boeing & Northrop Grumman to build the new tankers based on Boeing 767, so the work is spread around to different USA vendors.

Northrop Grumman could also still build a plant in Mobile, Ala to build these planes so all of this $$ stays in the USA for a change.

The Boeing 767 should be the base plane for all US Air Force planes of this size, like AWACS, J-STARS. We must look at the real long term savings by having one type of aircraft that can be used in different roles.

a good web site to review more uses of 767

Just food for thought


With an impasse, one possible solution - NG teams up with Boeing for the entire contract with possible future Northrop contracts shared with Boeing as well.


I sense the frustration of this whole ordeal from the top reading a couple of the latest news articles. I believe AirForce could make it simpler all around by just awarding appropriate contracts to those whose core competency is in line with their requirements that includes a fair price. Boeing had the right offer for the original proposal. Then to foster competition, the specs were changed. I stand by the idea of re-partnering with NG. Alternatively, the outcome will be bitter otherwise and may not serve the best interest to the nation.

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