As the maker of the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, Thomas Cassidy wants to make it clear that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc’s (GA-ASI) production system isn’t broken. “We have never have had a production problem,” says Cassidy, president of GA-ASI. “We sometimes have a problem delivering the airplanes.” But those delivery issues are caused by bottlenecks at the US Air Force’s flight test ranges rather than in GA-ASI’s factory, he says.
It’s a sensitive issue for Cassidy. GA-ASI’s manufacturing capacity has been questioned repeatedly during the past year. When I noted that even Michael Wynne — the ousted Secretary of the Air Force — criticized GA-ASI’s production system in a USA Today article, Cassidy quickly fired back a sharp retort.“Wynne made the comment when he was no longer Secretary, so take it or leave it,” Cassidy says. In fact, Cassidy suggests that, if anything, Wynne may have been a part of the problem.
GA-ASI usually performs “on schedule or sometimes slightly behind schedule”, Cassidy explains. But production for some aircraft types was slowed because GA-ASI’s customer changed priorities and needed ” a bunch of certain other types of airplanes out quickly”. So the person who is critical that GA-ASI is “behind on production is the guy who was waiting for airplanes”, Cassidy says, adding: “It’s a complex issue.”
The company is now producting eight to 10 aicraft per month. Production of the Predator B, which the USAF designates as the MQ-9 Reaper, is now at 1.5 per month and increasing to 3 per month, Cassidy says. Further, he adds, GA-ASI is capable of increasing output “regardless of how many they order”.
Thomas Cassidy fires back at GA-ASI’s critics
By Stephen Trimble on 9 April, 2009 in Uncategorised
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