U.S. Air Force grounds Boeing's KC-46 tankers over debris issue

The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tanker is bathed in blue light before a delivery celebration to the U.S. Air Force in Everett, Washington

FILE PHOTO: The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tanker is bathed in blue light before a delivery celebration to the U.S. Air Force in Everett, Washington, U.S., January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

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(Reuters) - The U.S. Air force said on Friday it had stopped accepting Boeing Co's KC-46 tankers since Feb. 20 and is working with the company to resolve the issue of foreign object debris (FOD) that were found in the aircraft.

"No aircraft have been accepted since then, and will not restart until the production aircraft are cleared of FOD, and the Air Force and DCMA have approved a corrective action plan by Boeing that will prevent FOD in the future," U.S. Air Force spokesperson Hope Cronin said in a statement.

The Seattle Times first reported the grounding of the KC-46 tankers on Thursday, citing internal company memos.

An Air Force official told Reuters that the issue was not with the aircraft itself, but with the process in place for building the aircraft.

Boeing has offered to inspect all the aircraft that have been accepted by the Air Force, the official said, adding that a couple of airplanes were nearing acceptance in the coming days but that will not happen.

(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington and Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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