|Boeing's loss of a $40bn contract to build a new in-flight refuelling aircraft for the US military has drawn angry protests in Congress. Lawmakers from Washington state and Kansas, which have big Boeing plants, voiced "outrage" that it had gone to a consortium including Europe's Airbus. The planes will be assembled in Alabama but constructed largely in Europe. Boeing has said it is awaiting an explanation from the military before deciding whether or not to appeal.|
The new aircraft, named the KC-45A by the US Air Force, is based on the Airbus A330 and will be manufactured in partnership with US defence firm Northrop Grumman. Its job will be to refuel the vast array of US warplanes and the contract is worth in the region of $40bn over 15 years. It is a huge blow for Boeing, the BBC's Vincent Dowd reports from Washington. America has around two-thirds of all such aircraft in use anywhere, and a senior figure in the company said recently if it lost this contract it could be out of the refuelling market totally for years.
Gen Arthur J Lichte, commander of the US Air Force's Air Mobility Command, said the winning design had many advantages over Boeing's tanker.
"More passengers, more cargo, more fuel to offload, more patients that we can carry, more availability, more flexibility and more dependability," he said.
In Everett, Washington state, a few dozen Boeing workers protested outside a Machinists Union hall holding up signs saying "American workers equal best tankers" and "Our military deserves the best".
Congressional lawmakers from the state's Seattle area issued a joint statement condemning the "outsourcing" of the contract.
"We are outraged that this decision taps European Airbus and its foreign workers to provide a tanker to our American military," they said.
Todd Tiahrt, a Republican congressman from Wichita, Kansas, called for "an American tanker built by an American company with American workers". "I hope the Air Force reverses its decision," he added. But the news was a boon for Alabama Republican congressman Jo Bonner.
"We are so very excited about having the opportunity to help the Air Force acquire the most modern and capable refuelling tanker - a tanker assembled in America by Americans," he said.
What makes the Boeing argument about Made in America so hilarious is their new 787 is being made overseas with assembly done in America just like the new tankers will be made in Alabama which is beside itself.
|Sweetening the win for Mobile, Airbus has announced plans to shift production of a freighter version of the A330 to the new plant, potentially adding 300 jobs.|
"We already have begun the work necessary to expand our U.S. industrial footprint in support of this important program," said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., chairman and chief executive of EADS North America.
Construction of the factory could begin within the next three months, according to local officials. The Air Force wants its first planes delivered in 2013, and its budget projections call for the purchase of about 15 planes annually.
The assembly jobs are expected to pay salaries of about $65,000, or more than 50 percent above the state average for manufacturing work. Another 5,000 jobs could be created statewide, according to Northrop.
If this is all true, Boeing not only deserved to lose but they were trying to be slick about it.
|The Northrop KC-30, which is based on the EADS Airbus A-330 passenger jet, had been considered the more capable aircraft. It's bigger, which means it can carry 20 percent more fuel, 20 percent more passengers, and 30 percent more cargo. It can also carry 45,000 pounds more fuel than Boeing's KC-767. But Boeing had pitched the smaller size of the 767 as a feature, rather than a handicap. However, the 767 is at the end of its commercial life. The military would have been the only customer for the airplane had Boeing won the contract, raising concerns about maintenance costs.|
Give off a dead line to the military which in every category was the lesser plane and have high maintenance costs over the life of the planes in service. Unbelievable arrogance if they pushed the smaller size and lesser capacity as a feature.