Boeing's application of its commercial-aircraft lean production experience to the military-aircraft environment has helped it win a 10-year, $1.1 billion US Air Force contract to overhaul more than 200 KC-135 tankers. The company beat Pemco Aviation Group, its subcontractor under the current contract.

Boeing's San Antonio, Texas support centre will induct the first aircraft by the end of September and overhaul up to 24 a year under the new programmed depot maintenance (PDM) contract. The company split the work with Pemco under the previous contract, which ends this month, overhauling 13 a year.

A turnaround at the once-troubled San Antonio centre has reduced flow time for KC-135 PDM from more than 400 days to less than 160 days using a pulsed line. "And we have promised to go significantly lower," says Tony Robertson, vice-president of Boeing Support Systems' aircraft maintenance and modification division.

Pemco, which is selling its booming commercial-aircraft maintenance operations to focus on the military overhaul market, says it is looking for new business for its Birmingham, Alabama facility, which has one more KC-135 to induct under the previous contract. Boeing's KC-10 support contract is up for recompetition.

Source: Flight International