The discovery of more construction debris inside KC-46A Pegasus aerial tankers has prompted the U.S. Air Force to again halt delivery of the new aircraft. The Air Force found foreign object debris, or FOD inside the planes, delivered by Boeing, that it believes could present a safety issue during flight.
According to Air Force Times the service , after finding construction debris inside a closed up section of one of the aircraft. This follows a similar stoppage on March 1st that was triggered by debris discovered in several airplanes, including loose tools and unwanted materials. The Air Force is concerned that such junk banging around inside aircraft during flight could cause damage, particularly to the aircraft’s electrical system, threatening the safety of the aircraft.
This newest round of debris was reportedly found in a section of the aircraft closed up during the manufacturing process. Some of the debris, such as aluminum shavings, seems rather minor but could work its way deep into the aircraft. It’s also indicative of a sloppy attitude towards the aircraft during the construction process that is not exactly reassuring. The first delivery halt was prompted by detection of debris in ten aircraft.
Outgoing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has described the situation as a breakdown in “manufacturing discipline." Boeing has reportedly taken further steps to correct the situation, including more inspections and training for employees on the aircraft assembly line.
The Air Force plans to buy 179 KC-46A Pegasus tankers to replace aging KC-135 Stratotankers that first entered service in the 1950s. The first KC-46A was , after a two year delay and $3 billion in cost overruns paid for by the company. Boeing has delivered seven aircraft so far.