Boeing has not delivered any 767 widebodies or KC-46 tankers in 2023, because of a new problem, that involves the aircraft’s center fuel tank.
Boeing has been no stranger to problems that affect aircraft deliveries. But until now, legacy designs like the 767 have largely escaped such issues. “Largely” because deliveries of the 767-derived KC-46 have previously suffered because of forgotten tools and other issues.
But this latest problem affecting the Boeing 767, and the KC-46, is apparently new. A supplier making the center fuel tank for both aircraft informed Boeing that it did not follow procedures for primer and paint adhesion testing of these tanks, before delivery. This means that Boeing now has to strip the paint and primer from the interior of these tanks, reapply it and test it.
The problem also means that the engines and fuel systems of the Boeing 767 fleet could suffer, from flaking paint and primer. Interestingly, The Air Current also states that there may be more implications for “receiver” aircraft, that took on fuel from KC-46s with this issue. The KC-46 is an aerial refueling tanker based on the 767-200.
Boeing 767 Problem And Deliveries
It is unclear how far back this problem goes, or how many Boeing 767 and KC-46 aircraft it affects. The company that made and painted these tanks has recently changed owners, but the issue appears to date before this change. Boeing has notified the operators of several affected aircraft about the issue. The FAA is also aware of the problem.
Boeing hasn’t made any passenger versions of the 767 for nearly a decade now. But the aircraft will remain in production as a freighter and as a military tanker, for many more years to come. Boeing hopes to get a new tanker contract for the aircraft from U.S. Air Force. Airbus and Lockheed have partnered to offer an alternative, based on the A330/MRTT (multi-role tanker transport).
Boeing has stated that the 767 problem will not change its delivery outlook for this year. Rework should not impact the production of more aircraft. However, stripping and repainting the interiors of these tanks is a very lengthy process.
This story comes on the heels of a separate issue, involving the 737 MAX and 787. According to Leeham News, a number of these aircraft are facing very lengthy delivery delays, because of software-related issues. The need to change software came because they have to go to a different operator from the one Boeing originally made them for. The delays relate to poor documentation of the software already installed on these aircraft.