Air Force contract could mean NC jobs

July 8, 2010 9:38:48 AM PDT
The outcome of the battle between Boeing and Airbus for a lucrative contract to build a new fleet of refueling tankers for the Air Force could mean 1,500 jobs in North Carolina.

Airbus parent company EADS wants the Air Force to buy its KC-45 tanker from EADS North America. If it gets the $35 billion contract, it says it will partner with North Carolina companies like Goldsboro-based AAR CORP to build the planes.

"It's work we don't have today," said AAR Vice President Vincent Misciagna. "It could be upwards of 600 planes. It would certainly mean an increase in work and additional jobs."

While AAR would be making cargo systems, the actual planes would be built in Mobile, Alabama. Nationwide a total of 49,000 jobs would be created or supported.

But first the Air Force has to accept EADS's bid, which is going up against Boeing for the contract.

"We have a much more modern aircraft that's fly by wire, has a capable all electronic boom that has a higher capacity for fuel delivery. Boeing is older, smaller not as modern," offered EADS Vice President Sam Adcock.

Boeing wants the Air Force to buy its Boeing 767-based NewGen Tanker, and it has accused Airbus of unfair competition - pointing to a recent finding by the World Trade Organization that European Union nations illegally subsidized Airbus programs.

Expect the two companies to trade barbs right up until the final Air Force decision that's expected sometime in late October or early November.

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