A US Air Force official has revealed that the country’s KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft still has six “category one” deficiencies to address to operate safely.
If uncorrected, aviation problems under category one are considered “serious” as they may cause death, severe injuries, or severe occupational illnesses. They may also result in a production line stoppage.
Last year, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified seven category one deficiencies on the tanker aircraft, including two issues related to its remote vision system (RVS).
After spending 19 months and reportedly incurring over $7 billion in losses to fix the deficiencies, only one major issue concerning the tanker’s flight management system has been downgraded to category two.
“We are partnering with the air force and have a path to closure on each of these issues. The specific timeline is subject to our joint efforts and the air force determines when [category one] issues close,” a Boeing official told Breaking Defense.
Work is ‘Underway’
According to the GAO, the most prominent problem plaguing the KC-46A production and delivery is its RVS, or the camera and video system boom operators use to refuel other aircraft.
Under some lighting conditions, boom operators cannot see the receptacle clearly through the RVS, potentially damaging the receiving plane.
US Air Force official Col. Lee Ottati said a new vision system is being developed, and it would take about two months for each Pegasus to be fitted with the new RVS.
Another category one deficiency is the “stiffness” in the refueling boom, which prevents the aircraft from refueling the A-10 Warthog attack plane. A fix is expected to be developed around early 2025,” according to Ottati.
The remaining issues are related to the tanker’s auxiliary power unit and fuel system.
Boeing said they have redesigned the valve seals to prevent leaks, and the US Air Force will soon analyze if the issues could be downgraded or closed.