Boeing’s Air Force One Contractor Battle – What’s Happening?

A run-of-the-mill dispute between a manufacturer and a supplier doesn’t normally make the news. But when the dispute involves future Air Force One aircraft, people sit up and pay attention. Earlier this month, Boeing sued a contractor doing work on its 747s destined to fly future Presidents. Just a few days ago, that contractor returned serve, countersuing Boeing.

Boeing has sacked and is suing one of its Air Force One program contractors. Photo: Getty Images

Boeing sues GDC Technics

Three years ago, Boeing locked in a US$3.9 billion deal to acquire a pair of 747-8s for the United States Air Force. The deal got attention for two reasons. First, the aircraft would be among the last jumbo jets ever worked on by Boeing, Second, they would be going to the USAF’s 89th Airlift Wing who provides the US Government’s VIP flight service.

Boeing uses a variety of suppliers to help manufacture components and provide services when building planes. Among the suppliers on the Air Force One program is Texas-based GDC Technics. They are a global aerospace company with expertise in engineering and technical services, modifications, electronic systems, research and development, and MRO services. GDC Technics got contracts to design and build the interior of the two 747s.

Earlier this month, Boeing canceled the contracts and sued GDC Technics. Boeing said GDC Technics was 12 months behind schedules, and it had no choice but to cancel the contracts. Boeing cited GDC Technics’ “insolvency and failure to met contractual obligations.”

“GDC’s failures have resulted in millions of dollars in damages to Boeing and threaten to jeopardize work that is of critical importance to the USAF,” Boeing said in its complaint filed in Tarrant County’s District Court.

Air Force One
The current Air Force One fleet is set to be phased out by the middle of the decade. Photo: Getty Images

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GDC Technics hit back, countersues Boeing

GDC Technics hit back late last week. On Friday, they countersued Boeing in Fort Worth, saying Boeing was making them a scapegoat for their own failures. GDC Technics is seeking US$20 million in damages. Reuters is reporting the counterclaim states;

“Boeing’s mismanagement of the completion of two Air Force One presidential aircraft, not delays caused by GDC, that has caused a delay in the completion of those aircraft.

“Because of its problems with engineering, program management, and its own financial difficulties, Boeing has fallen behind in the project schedule for the aircraft. Boeing looked to GDC as a scapegoat to excuse its lack of performance on the aircraft to the United States Air Force.”

GDC Technics also alleges Boeing failed in its contractual obligations to the subcontractors. That includes failing to pay what GDC Technics was due for its work.

Boeing says it will either bring the designing and building the interior of the future Air Force One planes in-house or find new suppliers.

Air Force One Boeing 747 Daytona 2020
Two Boeing VC-25A aircraft have made up the presidential fleet since 1990. Photo: Getty Images

GDC Technics has a track record delivering VIP fleet modifications

GDC Technics is no wannabe aircraft business batting out of its league with Boeing. The established company has a proven track record of modifying aircraft (including Boeings) for VIP and executive customers. Recently, they wrapped up exterior modifications and additional interior cabin customizations on one of two Boeing 777-300ERs going to the Indian Government.

GDC Technics has also recently done work on Boeing Business Jets air purification systems and 737-300 wireless systems. But how much work Boeing refers to GDC Technics in the future is now up in the air.

The two 747-8s destined to go to the USAF are now at Boeing’s facility in San Antonio. Boeing says a variety of work is now underway to modify the planes and bring them up to USAF specs.

What do you make of this lawsuit? Who do you think is at fault? Post a comment and let us know.