There has been a year delay in the introduction of a much needed combat proven aircraft into a combat theater with America at war—this is unconscionable.
As the Editor of Sldforum.com and a writer for Saldinfo.com I have to correct one of my previous columns on the “fake it to you make it” saga of Hawker Beechcraft and their entry of the AT-6 into the USAF LAS competition.
On November 20th , 2011, I wrote the following—
“BACKGROUND AND REQUIREMENTS: LAS aircraft must be a non-developmental item (NDI) that is production-ready. No development or testing funds are available. ” Introduction of LAS Solicitation FA8615-10-R-6088”
In response to the Air Force decision Hawker Beechcraft immediately issued what may go down in history as one of the worst press statement ever made. Not only does the press release demonstrate why they were eliminated HBC may also find out, by their own words that any legal recourse for any protests are staggeringly bad.”
HBC has just published a Press Statement that tops their previous one and is now one of the worst press statements ever made. Where HBC is concerned I should be careful in using absolutes like “go down in history as one of the worst” –This current one is now worst but there more may be on the way.
To amplify HBC Corporate thinking Molly McMillin of The Wichita Eagle on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011, does a very good job in allowing CEO Bill Boisture to explain why HBC filed suit
“We think we were wrongfully excluded from the competition,” said Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture. “We don’t understand the basis for the exclusion, and frankly, we think we’ve got the best airplane.
“So we’re going to take every avenue available to us to make sure our product is fully evaluated and recognized for what it is. … There are several issues here that just, frankly, don’t make sense.”
“We do not know why we were excluded,” Boisture said.
The company filed an inquiry with the GAO for a review of the exclusion and a protest.
In its dismissal of Hawker Beechcraft’s protest, the Air Force said the company missed a three-day deadline to file a request for a debriefing and a 10-day deadline to file a protest, the GAO’s report said.
“That’s what the Air Force is alleging,” Boisture said. “There comes a point, though, where the facts of the matter would seem to be more important than the procedural correctness.”
Boisture gave these reasons that the decision must have been based on a minor problem.
So the President of an aircraft manufacturing firm that submitted an aircraft still in development into a “non-developmental” LAS Solicitation claims that two professional organizations, the USAF and the GAO, one in the Executive Department the other in the Legislative Branch are both wrong.
But wait it gets better, the President of HBC is stating HBC is filing a law suit requesting that a third branch of Government the Judiciary should now get involved—but the Judge should ignore both “procedural issues” and issues of material merit-“minor problems.” –
As the GAO determined–
“After reviewing HBDC’s responses to issues raised during discussions, the Air Force concluded that HBDC had not adequately corrected deficiencies in its proposal. In this regard, the agency concluded that “multiple deficiencies and significant weaknesses found in HBDC’s proposal make it technically unacceptable and results in unacceptable mission capability risk.”
One of the most fundamental rules written in blood in USAF/USN/USMC aviation safety is that procedures correctly followed save lives. An aviation manufacturing firm that can not follow simple and spelled out administrative procedures is not making a good argument. Requesting a Federal Judge to over look HBC ignoring “procedures” is not a case aviation professionals should be making. In fact it is down right scary they would even think this way.
On the merits of the AT-6 having “minor problems”—The AT-6 was submitted as a “non-developmental” aircraft, but according to the widely respected Aviation Week and Space Technology that initial action is simply factually wrong. The AT-6 was making news that they were still in development as late as October 20, 2011
“AT-6 Qualifies For Afghan Contract”
Finally, in entering a “fake it till you make it aircraft” HBC is also reaching by making an investment banking beneficiary crony capitalism argument —it is all about jobs. Tell that to the assembly line workers watching their HBC jobs go to Mexico and/or China-
The real facts that President Boisture thinks , “don’t make sense” is that under his leadership of HBC there has been a year delay in the introduction of a much needed combat proven aircraft into a combat theater with America at war. This is unconscionable.
The good news, if any law suit goes forward, discovery is a two way street and the AF and GAO have diligent investigators and true professionals that can get to the bottom of ALL the facts since by HBC’s own press release the AT-6 was not production ready when submitted because they admit testing funds are being expended.
It will be interesting to see if the Law suit is dismissed with prejudice.
LAS aircraft must be a non-developmental item (NDI) that is production-ready. No development or testing funds are available. ” Introduction of LAS Solicitation FA8615-10-R-6088”