Boeing Flies First KC-46A Tanker Destined for Delivery to US Air Force

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On Tuesday, Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) flew the first of the new KC-46A tankers that will be among 18 scheduled for delivery to the U.S. Air Force in 2018. The company had originally scheduled the first delivery to occur before the end of this year, so the news is mixed at best.

Actually, this is the second delay for deliveries that were first scheduled for August of this year. Boeing has flown six other tankers, all of which are being used for testing and certification. The KC-46A is based on the company’s 767 commercial jet.

According to a report at FlightGlobal, Boeing must still correct three “category 1 deficiencies” including an issue with the refueling boom scraping the receiving aircraft. Boeing has targeted the end of this year to meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification of the aircraft’s amended type certification (ATC) and sometime next year to meet requirements for the supplemental type certification (STC).

Leanne Caret, CEO of Boeing’s Defense division, said on Sunday that the company would not deliver any tankers in 2017, but she is confident about 2018 deliveries:

We are extremely close, we will be delivering those in 2018 and there is no doubt in my mind that this is a great franchise for the Boeing Company and we are delivering an incredible capability to the United States Air Force and to the world.

Boeing’s contract calls for 18 tankers and nine refueling pods to be delivered by October 2018, but there is no mandated date for the first delivery. Boeing has already had to write down some $2 billion due to cost overruns and delays in the fixed-price Air Force contract.

In other Boeing Defense division news, Reuters reports that sources have said that the government is going to announce this week that Canada plans to cancel its order for 18 Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jets and purchase an earlier version of the plane used from Australia. The cancellation would be a response to Boeing’s challenge to Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier’s sale of commercial jets to U.S. customers.

Boeing stock was up fractionally on Wednesday at $277.22 a share. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $151.07 to $281.83, and the 12-month consensus price target is $285.42.