American aerospace company Boeing is likely to deliver the first VC-25B Air Force One replacement in 2025, a year later than initially planned.
Another speed bump
Announced this Tuesday by a top Air Force acquisition official, the news marks yet another delay from Boeing, as late April saw the manufacturer confirm more delays in its 777X programme.
The Air Force is assessing a revised plan proposed by Boeing, according to Darlene Costello, principal deputy assistant secretary for Air Force.
The delays are a consequence of the manufacturer falling behind schedule after cancelling its contract and filling suit against GDC Technics, a Texas-based company contracted to supply interiors for the VC-25B aircraft. Boeing claimed that the company had fallen more than a year behind schedule. However, delays were worsened by GDC countersuing Boeing, alleging that Boeing was responsible by mismanaging the programme.
Regardless, this dispute pushed back the development of the VC-25B even further.
In May, Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson, the military deputy for the Air Force’s acquisition enterprise, said that Boeing had identified a new supplier to work on the VC-25B interiors.
Costello provided more information, stating that the Air Force and Boeing could negotiate to raise the ceiling on the current $3.9 billion fixed-price contract agreed upon in 2018 due to unforeseen costs created during the pandemic and its unprecedented impact on the airline industry.
In regards to the delay, Costello shared an update received from Boeing:
“Boeing has informed us that they believe it will be a 12 month [delay] beyond their original schedule. That doesn’t mean that we agree with that yet. Our program team is looking at what they have assumed in their schedule and is doing…a schedule risk assessment.”
Costello stated that Boeing had also filed an intent letter to the Defense Department for a “request for equitable adjustment,” which will lay out the financial impact the pandemic had on Boeing’s work on the porgramme.
The letter will pave the way for negotiations with the service about whether to cancel the contract with Boeing; something Boeing almost certainly wouldn’t want.
Finalising all changes to the VC-25B schedule should be completed by September.
Costello does not expect the delay to be more than what Boeing has said. But there’s reason to believe that this is a hopeful conclusion as the service could need to add another maintenance cycle to keep the current legacy VC-25A aircraft fully operational until the VC-25B is delivered and fully operational.
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