Thomas Cassidy fires back at GA-ASI’s critics

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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”.

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One Response to Thomas Cassidy fires back at GA-ASI’s critics

  1. barry martin 29 November, 2009 at 5:51 am #

    sounds like another firm wants to get in on the action? one of the big boys who can’t think on their feet but have good connections upstairs—usually they buy the company and up the price to pay for the aquisition. iceman

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