Italian 767 tanker delayed again

Delivery of Italy’s Tankers Slips to ’09

Boeing has confirmed what Italian Air Force officials predicted in July: Italy will take final delivery of its first 767 tanker in early 2009, four years after the planned initial delivery date of 2005.

Boeing is probably just as happy that the USAF’s KC-X competition has been temporarily shelved. The wait will give them time to work on a 777-based proposal to better compete with the Northrop Grumman EADS Airbus offering which seems to fit the rejiggered requirements better than the 767.

The problems with the Italian tankers, four of which are now scheduled for final delivery next year, hurt the selling point that the 767 design is already in use. Of course, if Boeing ever gets the bugs worked out they can argue that they’ve already ironed out a lot of the 767 problems in the real world. Most of that goes out the window if they shift to a 777 design.