First KC-30 Tanker

Northrop Gumman press release:

Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE:NOC) first KC-30 Tanker aircraft completed initial airframe assembly in July, illustrating an efficient and low-risk approach for quickly replacing the U.S. Air Force’s KC-135 tanker fleet.

The first developmental KC-30 aircraft, designated SDD-1, entered final assembly a month earlier at the EADS commercial aircraft center when technicians began fitting together large subassemblies to create the commercial A330 airframe.

“If we’re successful in our bid to provide the Air Force with the more capable tanker — we’re ready immediately,” said Paul Meyer, Northrop Grumman vice president and general manager of the KC-30 program. “Having the very first KC-30 already completing airframe assembly clearly shows the advantage in leveraging a current and efficient production line, which we feel offers a competitive advantage. We’re absolutely committed to meeting and exceeding the Air Force’s need to quickly replace its mission-critical tanker aircraft.”

Sooner or later a decision on the new tanker needs to made, doesn’t it?

Comments

  1. I would bet this plane wins the contract, or at least a significant part. Unfortunately it is just an Airbus design with an American name on it. I am sure it is a fine product. But as an American taxpayer who is going to pay for it, I would rather the money go to a local guy like Boeing. But I don’t think the US Government has the courage or inclination to fight the WTO. I am sure if Boeing won the whole contract there would be some sort of free trade violation or illegal subsidy claim brought in front of the WTO. Given the EU gets a vote for each of its members, the US would be outvoted 15 to 1.

  2. Nah, relax about ‘i wish it were american…’. What really matters is the plane to be good, american or not. I dont think that norwergian and spanish armies are any less patriotic because they use german rifles.

  3. That’s right Vitor! And don’t forget Northrop Gruman is an American company with American workers. Free trade is a beautiful thing. The only question should be is it the best aircraft for the job.

  4. Victor, it’s not just a matter of patriotism. I don’t want to watch our remaining commercial aviation player whither. Commercial aviation is one of the 7 key industries that a nation must be competitive in to maintain a first world economy. First, whether they choose the A330, B767 or B777, they will get a great upgrade over the KC-135. All the competitors are civilian models with established performance histories. The differences between them are not great. Second, if this were 1980 we would also have been able to choose among Lockheed’s L1011 and the McD DC-10. But those guys have been eliminated from commercial aviation mainly by the rise of Airbus. Third, I want the US to remain in commercial aviation. This contract will call for 200 to 400 airframes which is enormous in that market. Only about 5 or 6 passenger jets have ever sold over 1000 units. If Airbus were to get such an order on the US taxpayer’s dime, it would definitely hurt our only surviving manufacturer. There are areas where we do buy foreign components. But this was is just too big. It is not just a competition for a tanker, it has consequences on the commercial side as well.

  5. I agree, it’s important that this money be given the chance to remain in the US industry. I think the Airbus design backers should be given a one-shot bid, just give the best price, no second chances. The Boeing design backers should be given a chance to beat that bid, with severe penalties for overruns. If they can beat it, they get the contract. I wouldn’t for a second complain if France gave Airbus designs the same ‘last bid’ advantage if everyone knew the rules up front.

  6. If the USAF had an ounce of sense they’d have made the B-2 affordable and they’d be using them as tankers as well. With the F-22 having no more range than it has, it might come in handy to have a tanker that doesn’t advertise its position. As for defense outsourcing, if that’s what you want to do, knock youselves out. Any country that does such a stupid thing deserves what they get. I hope your foreign vendors give a damn when you get your ass kicked, because I sure as hell won’t.

  7. Dfans, of all people, I’d think YOU would have the most knowledge of how BAD the US military, government, and citizens would be SCREWED TO THE WALL if any vendor knew they had an auto-win on the bid. Over and over again. You’d be *LUCKY* to end up with the F-22 of air tankers, 50x the cost and 15 years late.

  8. And remember, if you want your children to become good adults, you must not spoil them. By that, Im trying to say that if an american company deserves to have their product bought by the american army, great! But if its not good enough, the america army will be doing a disfavour by still buying it, because it will take away the chance of the company too feel the bitter taste of competition and mature with that.

  9. Well, if we plan on buying the Airbus model, I sincerely hope they have that pesky composite-tail assembly problem taken care of. Respects,

  10. The Boeing design backers should be given a chance to beat that bid, with severe penalties for overruns.’ Random rant – That sentence is so very wrong. ‘Penalty for overruns?’ No. Penalty for failure to deliver on time, or not meet contractual performance requirements. Cost overrun? that is Boeing’s problem. If they agree so build plane X for 100 million and it costs them 150 million? life is rough the company loses money hand over fist. In every other business, if a CEO agreed to such a money losing deal, he would be fired, the stock would tank and lawsuits would rain from the sky. In the defense industry, congress basically bends the public over because Boeing is too big to fail.

  11. If they agree so build plane X for 100 million and it costs them 150 million? life is rough the company loses money hand over fist.’ James, *THAT* is an example of a severe penalty. In SO MANY contracts, those costs just end up shifted, because, well, it just cost more, and they’re good at getting that money back. A $50 million loss for spending $150 million on a $100 million contract, no way to recoup from the gov’t? That’s an example of what I’m talking about. However, I was referring to any kind of overrun, budgetary or otherwise. I’m not sure why my claim was ‘so very wrong’.

  12. What the hell, the only reason the dumb ass system we procure military hardware with now works at all is because of the patriotisim of the people in the trenches like me. Do you think you’re going to get that from a defense company in communist red China? Good luck with that ya’ dim wits. And by the way, why is it we don’t have any so called competition in this country now? Is it not because of the mergers and aquisitions the DoD itself encouraged so they could ‘save money’? So what the hell, they encourage consolidation and then you turn around and use that as an excuse to outsource our defense? Like I say, you deserve to have your ass kicked, and I’m sure someone will be willing to oblige you.

  13. The Northrup design will obviously get most of it’s parts outside the us. Do we know that the Boeing design is made with all America parts? Or does neither design count as ‘Made in the USA’?

  14. What the hell difference does that make if it doesn’t make any difference wether we even have a domestic defense capability or outsource it all? When did we become citizens of such a safe and secure world that we cannot figure out that it might possibly be a bad thing if we have to buy our weapons from overseas manufacturers? Do you really believe that if they sell them to us they won’t sell them to anyone else? Or is it that you believe they will sell us the best weapons and keep the poorer versions for their own use?

  15. I will go so far as to say that none of what is wrong with our military industrial complex is the fault of the contractors. You the US taxpayer have voted for socialist legislative representitives and a presidents who have implemented a procurement system where in it pays more for us to screw up and drag out the development of weapons than it does for us to build them right in the first place. You have done this. Not the defense contractors. Your elected officials have eliminated the competition for defense contracts. Now you say, ‘oh, these weapons are too expensive, let’s start buying them from other countries?’ This is the single most absurd thing I have ever heard of. Have you given any thought at all to the logical conclusion of such a policy? Fix the system! Stop paying contractors more to tell you big lies in their proposals than you do for them to tell the truth. Stop paying them more for dragging out development than you do for them to meet schedule and budget. Start acting like you might possibly believe in capitalism and be the least bit patriotic, instead of wishing those of us who suffer mightily already, who get passed over for promotion after promotion for not screwing you over the way you clearly deserve to be, were more patriotic for you. Why don’t you do your part instead of putting it all those of us who already are doing our part and often a hell of a lot more?

  16. Dfens, who are you responding to? My entire point was to stop paying the contractors too much for not enough, as well as to give the advantage to our domestic industry, for mostly the reasons you mention. Are you AGAINIST holding the contractors to a higher standard, and making them stop screwing around with taxpayer’s money? Are you AGAINST giving preference to domestic industry when it comes to defense? (Of course, when there’s a single domestic player, you can’t make it no-bid because there’s nothing to keep them honest, but that’s specific just to single domestic player situations.) I mean, it doesn’t SEEM like you’re against those things, but you seem to also be arguing against folks that are FOR those things like you don’t want them. Very confusing.

  17. What I am against is blaming the contractors for institutional problems that are not their fault. These problems are the fault of the American voter and the socialist representatives they have put in office. I contend that you get a far better defense than you deserve, and that is built on the backs of the vast majority of the good and patriotic Americans that work in these domestic defense firms. I do not see how you can blame the defense companies for running up costs and dragging out work when you pay them more for doing that. Which message are you sending? It seems to me like you’ve put your money where your mouth is. If you don’t want them to drag out development, then stop paying more for it. I’d like to know if any of you wrote to your congressmen regarding the creation of the United Launch Alliance monopoly on defense launch services? Anyone? No one cared about that. No one talked about it. No one called anyone. It happened, ho hum. Now you think that monopoly that the US DoD specifically asked congress for justifies outsourcing our launch industry? That’s absurd. You think I’m against the defense contractors? I’m not against them. I’m for them. I’m against what you are forcing us to do. It is obscene. It is foolish. Of course, now that you’ve been paying us to screw up for the last 30 year, now that the management structure of these companies is entirely rebuilt around this retarded quasi-socialist system that’s been put in place, yeah, sure, there’s going to be some resistance to putting things back to the way they were. Is that the defense contractors fault? I don’t think it is. I think we are the vicitms here. I think those of us at the bottom of this pyramid are the biggest victims, although even what we deal with isn’t as bad as what the soldiers in the field suffer. They’re the ones with bullets flying at them. And what the heck, you’re forcing us out on a branch and cutting it off behind us. Outsourcing our jobs like you even have that option. We pay more for our defense than the rest of the world combined. We have increased the amount of money going to contractors 100% over the last decade. We have contractors fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have contractors on special ops missions. We have contractors running the CIA, NASA, the DoD. Yet with the runaway resources being flushed down the contractor toilet, the number of defense workers in dropping and has been for decades. The mean age of a defense worker is 59. That’s the average age. And now you think it will work even better to outsource those jobs? How hard do you think it will be for China to beat the ass of a nation of lawyers and fry cooks? What I’m saying and what I’ve always said is fix the system. Stop penalizing us when we do a good job and rewarding us to do a crappy job. Hell, what is outsourcing defense if not just more of the same. Yeah, you Boeing guys care too much about your country so we’re outsourcing your jobs to France. Good idea. France will always be there for you, right?

  18. dfens can you give an example of of a system that you think has been screwed by the processes you describe? Also, what do you mean by the socialist representatives and how are they screwing the system? Thanks

  19. I’ll assume the ‘you’ refers to ‘me’. ‘I do not see how you can blame the defense companies for running up costs and dragging out work when you pay them more for doing that.’ Let’s see… I’m *FOR* the government putting a system in place that rewards good performance by defense contractors, and would discourage bad performance. I’m *FOR* a system that would support domestic industry, and in most cases, be limited to only domestic players so we maintain control of those resources. (EXTREMELY rare cases where there was only a single domestic player able to meet the need might actually warrant a foreign bid, albeit with that company at a bidding disadvantage. This has got to be a tiny fraction of bids.) I’m not even going to bother going point by point…Do you even *READ* the posts you respond to? I’ll paraphrase Murdoc…’I’m not FOR what you seem to be against.’ Sheesh.

  20. The short version, spacey, is that in the ’70s the development costs of weapons were continuing to escalate and the contractors were complaining that they were putting too much at risk to bid on contracts. In those days, your bid was a prototype airplane you developed to meet a statement of need by the DoD. If you submit the best airplane you get a contract for a couple hundred of them. If you’re not the best you go home and try to win the next contract. It was a very simple method of doing business, but can you imagine doing that with a C-5. At some point in the early to mid ’70s the government started reimbursing the contractors for their development expenses. The problem with that system is they had to then watch the contractors to make sure they were spending the money on what they should be spending it on. This was the beginning of the bloated procurement bureaucracy that dominates the DoD now. The other down side to this reimbursement from my perspective is that since the contractors weren’t making any profit until they built production airplanes, they were constantly trying to find shortcuts around many of the checks they should be making to ensure product safety. Also, since your proposed design didn’t have to actually work, you could lie your ass off in the proposal and as long as you didn’t get caught, you’d usually win that way. After being beaten up for years, mainly by Democrats for safety issues with new weapons, the contractors told the DoD that they wouldn’t be tempted to take those shortcuts if they were getting profit on development reimbursements. They also said this would lead to more innovation in products because the contractors would have little risk in development of cutting edge systems. In reality, what it did was eliminate the incentive to innovate. It also eliminated the incentive to ever finish development. Because of the additional money, the self serving government bureaucracy noted that there would also be a need for more watchers. Unfortunately for the taxpayer the additonal watchers have only become a bigger lobby for the weapon. They don’t actually do much when it comes to keeping the contractor in line because you can’t force a contractor to be smart or do the smart thing. You can only watch as they fail due to learned stupidity. So now you pick the contract. They all follow the same pattern. Now imagine working within this kind of insane system while your friends are fighting a war against terrorism in Iraq.

  21. over 50% of the KC-30’s content will come from the US http://www.northropgrumman.com/kc30/benefits/choice.html you know stuff like engines, avionics, etc and the boeing product isn’t 100% american either they advertise it as over 85% http://www.boeing.com/ids/globaltanker/files/KC-767AnnouncementBrief.pdf page 12 ‘well that’s still 35% more american!!!11’ 1. that’s true, but it’s not as black and white as a 0%/100% split 2. we owe it to our troops to get the best. buying an inferior product simply because it’s from the home team is not acceptable 3. we already buy a lot of foreign military products 4. if you’re worried about US commercial aviation- a. Boeing isn’t going anywhere, they are doing VERY well right now b. this will help build up NEW domestic capability by giving Northrup something to do. Ordering the KC-767 would simply keep the ancient 767 line rolling for a few more years, basically contributing nothing to the industry

  22. dfens, thanks for the explanation. As I read it, it brought to mind The Pentagon Wars, the movie about the Bradley. irtusk, you have some good points. However, you can’t take it for granted that Boeing is not going anywhere. They went from 90% of the market down to 50%. Also, UPS recently ordered over 25 767s so it is still viable. And winning the contract would be a cash cow for Boeing to help fund newer types. My guess is the contract will be split between the two. It would be political suicide to give it all to Airbus, and it would cause too much friction at the WTO to give it all to Boeing. Now that the USA is in the ‘make nice’ mode to repair our world image, Airbus stands a better chance of getting part of the deal. We awarded the presidential chopper to the European design to reward Italy for its support in Iraq.

  23. Yeah that presidential helicopter is a real slick deal. Turns out 3 engines isn’t enough to lift the Prez and all his crap. Now they’re talking about adding a 4th, on your nickle. Nice of you to completely rebuild this commercial off the shelf helicopter for the Italians, isn’t it? Like I say, you deserve what you get for being stupid.

  24. > Also, UPS recently ordered over 25 767s so it is still viable. And winning the contract would be a cash cow for Boeing to help fund newer types. the reason UPS ordered 767s is the same reason Boeing is going to be just fine for many years to come all the world’s widebody capacity is sold out for years into the future UPS chose the 767 not because they particular liked it, but because they needed planes NOW and the 767 had the shortest waiting list of any widebody (ie it’s the least popular widebody currently on the market) no matter what Airbus does, they simply cannot supply enough planes to satisfy the market. So even if Boeing does jacksquat for the next 10 years they will still be fine. And Boeing is NOT doing jacksquat. The 787 is setting all sorts of sales records for a plane that hasn’t even flown yet. In short, Boeing isn’t going anywhere

  25. It’s not really a question of whether Boeing is ‘going anywhere’ or not, is it? Boeing will hire US engineers to maintain the fleet. Airbus will not. Boeing will hire US engineers to make the modifications for the tanking mission. Airbus will not. Even if Airbus doles out some of the low skilled assembly jobs to thier little plant in Alabama, is that was free trade was supposed to provide us here in the US? Wasn’t ‘free trade’ going to send all the low skilled jobs overseas so we could concentrate on the ‘high tech’ stuff here? What load of bs that was. Instead we have Toyota, Honda, BMW, Nissan, and every other kind of assembly plant here, but where are the parts machined, where is the engineering done? It sure as hell isn’t done here. If you want a country full of job opportunities in fast food service, then you’re going the right way. You can all work in fast food restaurants and sue each other over how their too hot coffee burned your balls.

  26. The problem Boeing has with Airbus is that it is a private company competing with several nations. The model of a private, lone American company competing against governments is not in our favor. Today it is Europe, tomorrow Japan and China. The 787, which you mentioned, is in large part being built by Japanese firms in Japan. Why? The Japanese government identified commercial aviation as one of the 7 key industries a nation must be competent in to have a first world economy. They offered Boeing sweet deals to help fund the 787 program in return for Boeing farming out the work to Japan. I guess this is what is known as Industrial Policy which the US shuns because of its inherent conflict with free trade ideology. Howver, the rest of the world does not. The Chinese government is now assembling A320s in China. Their intent is to manufacture their own designs in by 2020. If Airbus took that much market share from Boeing, what will happen when there is a Chinese and Japanese equivalent? I am not saying I want the US government to make Boeing a welfare queen. However, 30 years ago people would have laughed at the notion of Airbus taking half the market. I want to make sure we don’t lose any more market share in the future to these government competitors.

  27. > Boeing will hire US engineers to maintain the fleet. Airbus will not. the US Air Force will be maintaining the fleet > Boeing will hire US engineers to make the modifications for the tanking mission. Airbus will not. we can quibble about which country does which jobs, the point is OVER HALF the money is staying in the US > Even if Airbus doles out some of the low skilled assembly jobs to thier little plant in Alabama, you ignore all the other american components in the plane are the GE engines low skilled assembly jobs? are the avionics from Smiths Aerospace created by unskilled labor? > Wasn’t ‘free trade’ going to send all the low skilled jobs overseas so we could concentrate on the ‘high tech’ stuff here? no that would be colonialism where we ship the cotton to england and they ship the cloth back free trade means competing on the merits of your product and prices free trade increases competition which is a good thing because it increases innovation and decreases prices granted the world isn’t a free trade model at the moment with subsidies and whatnot, but it was NEVER meant to guarantee American dominance over the world, just that American companies would get a fair shake

  28. The part of the 787 they contracted to Japan doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the large part they contracted to China, giving them B-2 bomber technology along the way: Last April in Everett, in a tense meeting with an investigator sent by Boeing headquarters, a small group of 787 engineers dropped a bombshell. The engineers, veterans of Boeing’s work on the B-2 stealth bomber two decades ago, told investigator Rick Barreiro that technology and know-how developed for that secretive military program would be used in manufacturing the company’s newest commercial jet. The engineers refused to sign forms declaring that the 787 program is free of military data. One said he feared signing would leave him open to federal indictment. Their assertions set off flashing red lights at Boeing. Federal law prohibits U.S. companies from letting militarily sensitive technical expertise go abroad. Yet Boeing’s entire global manufacturing plan for the 787 hinges on having foreign suppliers build large structures out of advanced composite materials. The standoff with the engineers caught Boeing managers by surprise. ‘We all underestimated the amount of screening we needed to do’ for military technology, said Walt Gillette, head engineer and vice president for airplane development on the 787. In the months that followed, outside lawyers pored over 1970s-era documents in search of proof that some key manufacturing techniques originated in the commercial business, not in military programs. And to satisfy the letter of the law, Boeing workers have embarked on some surreal tasks. One example: Boeing’s B-2 work showed that the plasticized carbon-fiber tape used to make composites can be safely frozen and stored for up to a year -twice as long as previously thought. That fact is now well-known in the composites industry, yet 787 engineers can’t inherit that knowledge from the B-2 program, Gillette said. So they conducted fresh tests to prove a result they already knew. These are obviously not ‘low skilled’ jobs they are exporting, and they are also obviously not making our nation safer by exporting our composites technology that we as US taxpayers paid for with our hard earned money.

  29. > The part of the 787 they contracted to Japan doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the large part they contracted to China, giving them B-2 bomber technology along the way i’m not sure what any technology transfer on the 787 has to do with whether it is ok to buy the kc-30 > You can quibble, irtusk, because you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. what statement of mine has been incorrect? i can point out several of your statements that are factually incorrect this one statement is so ridiculous i just have to come back to it > Boeing will hire US engineers to maintain the fleet. Airbus will not even if you somehow thought that the airforce was going to contract out all maintenance, which they aren’t, how can they POSSIBLY hire european engineers to perform it all? when a plane breaks down at air force base in california, they’re going to fly a maintenance team in from france to fix it? it’s absurd beyond measure

  30. irtusk said free trade was ‘NEVER meant to guarantee American dominance over the world.’ I don’t want dominance over the world. Hence, my getting lambasted from time to time for not supporting all of our foreign policy interventions. However, I would at least like for American companies to dominate the American market. Also, as I have said before, not one of the major nations today became wealthy through free trade. They all practiced some from of neomercantilism, especially the USA from our founding to WW2.

  31. Anyone who has even been around civilian aircraft knows that the manufacturer does not just build an airplane and then be done with it. Holy hell, it’s not like manufacturing zippers for pants. My company has a engineering support staff for airplanes they built 50 years ago. You think the US Air Force is going to tell the manufacturer of their tankers, ‘ok, we’ve got it now, we don’t need any more engineering support ever because we’ve got our own 19 year old maintainers.’ Damn, how stupid is this guy?

  32. nice attempt to subtely try to change what you said who is going to be providing the maintenance? 95+% of it is going to be done by the us airforce yes, those ’19 year old maintainers’ as you call them will overhaul engines and more if they have some problem they can’t deal with, yes, they call the company for support but when you consider that basically eads is supplying the frame and the boom and that the engines and most of the electronics are coming from american companies, they are the ones going to be providing the support on their components basically you are using an extreme small percentage of cases to support your position how many EXTRA engineers are they going to keep on staff because of the work provided by KC-30 maintenance? maybe 1, maybe 2. On a contract this large, that is what you call noise. don’t forget that military is not the same as civilian and don’t forget the scale. An airline that operates 10 of a particular model might not have a dedicated shop for them. However consider AA and the MD-80. They operated so many they established their own overhaul operation and now other airlines send their planes to AA for major maintenance and inspection. How often do you think AA calls up Boeing (which bought out/merged with McDD) and asks for support? The airforce is buying enough of these suckers that they will have a large support infrastructure that WILL solve practically all issues.

  33. free trade increases competition which is a good thing because it increases innovation and decreases prices

    granted the world isn’t a free trade model at the moment with subsidies and whatnot, but it was NEVER meant to guarantee American dominance over the world, just that American companies would get a fair share

    It seems to me, you’re assuming that everyone else is playing ‘fair’ to an equal extent.. I’m not sure that’s the actual situation. If some people do slightly dodgy things (e.g. frequently using state funcs to bail out plane manufacturing companies that would otherwise go broke), it doesn’t generate a level playing field,

  34. Yet again, Nicholas hits the nail on the head. Countries have a responsibility to their people. That means they should make reasonable provisions for national security with regard to protecting vital strategic resources and providing a common defense. Since no country can survive while continuously running a huge debt, they also have a responsibility to their people to maintain a balance of trade. That’s what the government of any country should do, not just the government of the US. Most governments are cognizant of these responsibilities. For some reason there seems to be some insane lemming disease plaguing the US, because we seem determined to run headlong over a ‘free trade’ cliff despite the fact that our trade with other communist or socialist who hate us is demonstratably neither free nor fair. But what the hell, as long as you have access to a cheap toaster oven, who cares?

  35. What the host countries do for Airbus is rational I suppose – it’s very difficult for a company to grow from a start-up to the size of Boeing and despite there being historically a number of successful European and British aircraft companies, for various reasons I don’t understand, none of them went into the large airliner business. Many of them have gone out of business I think. What happened to DeHavilland and the other companies that built the bombers like the Lancaster? Anyway, that’s how they’ve decided to play the game, but it amounts to a form of anti-competitive practice against Boeing because Airbus is effectively selling aircraft at below the point where they could break even, thanks to the influx of money and large reserves of capital they enjoy, which normal companies don’t have access to. So I understand why both parties are doing what they are doing.. Europe wants to compete in the airliner business, Boeing doesn’t want to be severely harmed by this tactic, and neither does the U.S. government for obvious reasons. Now, protectionism can have many bad side effects, which is what is behind the ‘free trade’ movement.. many people rationally want undistorted markets, so that stupid things don’t happen, like people getting paid to grow crops that there is no market for. But unfortunately there are also rational reasons for wanting to do that sometimes. I don’t know if those desires are reconcilable.

  36. Nicholas, the Europeans were highly advanced as you mentioned. After WW2, DeHavilland came out with the first jet transport, the Comet, which preceded our Boeing 707. However, metal fatigue due to pressurization caused some crashes and the Comet’s reputation was damaged. Meanwhile, the Europeans were cash strapped after the war. The US was spending a lot on defense to counter the Soviet threat. What we know as the 707 was actually funded by the USAF as a tanker, the KC-135. Later it was modified for commercial use. Once this happened the Europeans and Douglas, the leading piston-engine transport maker, were doomed. The Europeans felt defense money being used to build military aircraft with commercial applications amounted to an unfair subsidy for Boeing. At the beginning of the 1970s, the Europeans decided they had to do something if they wanted in on this huge business. I do not fault them for forming Airbus. Afterall if European airlines are going to spend billions on passenger jets, Europe might as well profit from their manufacture. An interesting side note; prior to Airbus, France and Britain jointly built the Concord believing speed would be a selling point. Boeing risked the company on the 747 jumbo. Over the years over 1400 747s were made while only 12 Concords were built. Clearly Boeing was correct then. Thirty years later the legacy of French/UK partnership, Airbus, is banking on the A380 Super Jumbo while Boeing went with the smaller, fuel efficient 787. I am curious to see who made the correct choice.

  37. No ‘Concords’ were ever built. The name was chosen to symbolise the spirit of Anglo=French co-operation – and then the French insisted that the French spelling was used: Concorde.