Critics Say Company Could Pull US Production
Despite his company's
recent, high-profile win of the US Air Force KC-X tanker contract a
few months ago, it isn't easy being EADS North America chief Ralph
Crosby right now... as that success has only served to paint a
larger bullseye on the company's back, with Boeing supporters
drawing a bead.
On Friday, Crosby defended against claims made by some US
lawmakers, that EADS could chose to pull assembly work for the
upcoming KC-45A from Alabama. As ANN reported, a team
comprised of EADS and American contractor Northrop Grumman was
awarded the tanker contract February 29; Boeing has appealed the
decision to the Government Accountability Office, and its decision
Crosby used a tour Friday of the EADS plant in Columbus, MS that
manufactures light utility helicopters for the US Army, to downplay
the remarks. The plant was an apropos choice to make a stand on
KC-X, as EADS continued work on the LUH on its own dime, even as
protestors held up the formal June 2006 awarding of that
contract... allowing the LUH program to remain on schedule.
"The point is we've never made a commitment that we haven't
kept," Crosby told Reuters, noting EADS has delivered 26 LUHs to
date to the US Army, all on-time, and is in the process of
transferring even more work from Germany to the United States. Army
officials back up EADS' claims.
So far, EADS has spent $500 million to construct an engineering
center in Mobile, AL... and assuming KC-45A production is given the
green light, EADS plans to construct what will be the third-largest
aircraft manufacturing facility there, behind Airbus' plant in
Toulouse and Boeing's Everett facility.
EADS plans to build Airbus A330-200 aircraft in Mobile, to be
used as platforms for both KC-45 tankers, as well as the upcoming
"There's absolutely no truth" to statements implying EADS'
commitment to Alabama is less than total, Crosby added. The company
expects to add 22,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Mobile area
through work on the freighter alone; the KC-45A is projected to add
another 48,000 jobs.
"The transformational part of it is that we've become part of
the industrial infrastructure of the United States," Crosby
Crosby also expressed surprise how vehemently Boeing, and its
supporters on Capitol Hill, have protested EADS' largest foray to
date into what had been the insular US defense industry.
"It's absolutely about keeping EADS and Airbus from
manufacturing airplanes in the United States," Crosby said, adding
he fully expects the GAO to toss out Boeing's protest.