Boeing’s troubled KC-46 Pegasus refueler and transport plane may have yet another design flaw. The Pentagon barred it from flying passengers and cargo after locks on one aircraft opened on their own.
Numerous cargo locks on the floor of one KC-46 unlocked several times during a recent test flight. The malfunction could lead to heavy equipment rolling around freely inside the jet’s cabin. This, in turn, could hurt the crew and unbalance the plane, making it “difficult, if not impossible” to control, a source explained to Defense News on Wednesday.
In response, the US Air Force (USAF) decided to ban all KC-46s from carrying passengers and cargo until Boeing fixes the problem. “We can’t jeopardize the safety of our aircrew and this aircraft,” USAF Mobility Command spokesman Colonel Damien Pickart stated.
Boeing said its engineers are now examining the locks “to determine a root cause” of this malfunction and promised to fix it “as quickly as possible.”
The KC-46 project has been plagued with delays and design flaws. The USAF received the first aircraft in January and quickly discovered several critical problems, such as glitches in the jet’s cameras, and its refueling boom scratching the airframe of receiver aircraft. Boeing acknowledged the flaws, promising to patch them up.
Earlier this year, the entire fleet of the KC-46s was grounded for a week after dangerous debris was found on board.
Boeing has remained under intense scrutiny after airliners worldwide grounded its newest 737 MAX passenger aircraft, following the glitches in the nose-angle control, which have led to deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
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