Chris Fostel
(Public Guest)
08/05/14 03:52 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

It was interesting to see all the 'flaws' that people think caused the end of the T-46 program. That wasn't what it was all about.

I was a project manager at Fairchild during those days. A requirement of the T-46 contract was to install and use an earned value tracking system for the first time in Fairchild's history, The first report from the new system declared that the T-46 program had a schedule variance equal to about one month's effort and a cost variance to match.

The Bethpage plant general manager declared that the data was faulty and ordered the project control folks to edit the reports to show no variance. Rather than risk their careers on the data from a new system, the reports were edited.

This continued for the next three years. The EVMS showed the project slipping further and further behind. The plant manager kept insisting that the reports be edited.

The day of the roll out came. The project was 10 months behind schedule, the plant manager allowed the roll out to go ahead as scheduled.

The Air Force was either tipped off, or smelled a rat from the reports that showed no variances. They came to the roll out with screwdrivers and wrenches. They removed maintenance access panels and discovered wooden mockups of avionics boxes and fly-by-wire controllers that were critical to the operation of the T-46.

The commanding general met with the plant manager and told him that there were two options. The plant manager could personally take the plane up and demonstrate its flight worthiness, or Fairchild Republic could make it flight worthy. But, since the official reports said the plane was complete at roll out, there would be no progress payments until the T-46 flew. If the T-46 did not fly, the plant manager and project control group would all go to jail and the company would be disbarred from future government contracts.

Three T-46 test aircraft were eventually produced, but the expense of funding 10 months of effort with no income drained Fairchild. The company defaulted on commercial loans and on a contract with Saab. Saab and the banks forced Fairchild Republic to liquidate its assets to pay damages to Saab and satisfy the bond holders.

No more Fairchild Republic; no more T-46. You can quote me on that.

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