T-7A ‘Wing Rock’ Fixed, But Production Delays Continue
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland—Boeing has resolved the “wing rock” issue facing the T-7A Red Hawk trainer, but production is still slowed by ongoing COVID-19-related parts shortages.
The company in June loaded a software fix to address the issue, which caused unstable flight as the aircraft flew at a high angle of attack. Paul Niewald, Boeing’s vice president and T-7 program manager, told reporters Sept. 21 that the software fix was first evaluated through digital modeling before being loaded onto an aircraft in June, and the issue was considered repaired after multiple flight tests. He spoke at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference.
As Boeing prepared the software fix, the U.S. Air Force also announced the Milestone C production decision for the T-7 slipped to fiscal 2023, both because of the wing rock problem and COVID-19 supplier parts delays.
Niewald said early COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns and shipping problems hit just as the new T-7 production line was getting started, which “caused a lot of disruption.”
Pandemic-related delays continue, but the St. Louis production line is “clawing back time,” Niewald said.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said Sept. 20 that he recently met with Boeing to discuss the ongoing T-7 issues and ensure that the service and Boeing can “solve this together and do it at an affordable price.” So far there are no indications that the delay would be extended, he said.
Niewald said that as of Sept. 21, the T-7s have flown more than 300 flights, including five flights within the last week.
The company is largely focused on developing the aircraft for the Air Force’s training mission, but not solely. Boeing has responded to the U.S. Navy’s request for information for its next trainer, and is doing its own studies to see what other missions the T-7 could serve. The Air Force Warfighting Integrating Capability office in 2018 also completed a fighter road map that considered a fighter version for sales to foreign militaries.