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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Boeing tanker win means more immediate Kansas jobs, work for local suppliers

Wichita stands to gain jobs no matter which company is chosen to build the United States Air Force’s new refueling tanker.

But it’s clear that Wichita will gain more jobs if the bid from The Boeing Co. is selected.
Boeing, which is offering a modified version of its 767, says the contract would mean 7,500 jobs in Kansas and a $388 million annual economic impact. Boeing is building a similar version of the aircraft for the Italian Air Force and the Japanese Air Self Defence Force.

Airbus officials can’t say how many local jobs might be created or how many local suppliers it might eventually use.
Local Work
EADS, parent company of Airbus, is offering a U.S. military version of the company’s A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport, which they call the KC-45.

That airplane is already in production — 28 have been ordered by U.S. allies — and is supporting 629 jobs at Honeywell International Inc. in Olathe, Kan., says EADS North American Inc. spokesperson James Darcy.
Bill Barksdale, a spokesperson for Boeing’s tanker program, says the company hasn’t yet released a complete suppliers list but that there could eventually be “a couple of dozen” Kansas companies working on the project.
“We’re not getting into Wichita numbers specifically,” he says. “We’re not done building the proposal, but Wichita is an important part of the program.”
Boeing may not be saying exactly where the Kansas jobs would go, but it has named five Wichita companies to its tanker supply team.

Spirit AeroSystems Inc., Kaman Aerostructures, Machining Specialists Inc., McGinty Machine Co. and TECT Aerospace Inc. are all on the list.
Spirit also does work for Airbus.
“We don’t have any Wichita content on the A330. We do some wing work for the A330 in Spirit Europe, but it is minimal compared to the content we have on the 767,” says Debbie Gann, a spokesperson at Spirit. “We are a member of the Boeing tanker team and are committed to helping build the New Gen tanker for the U.S. Air Force.”
Airbus has a Wichita presence in its North American Engineering office, which is expanding and adding 80 engineers by 2012 for work unrelated to the tanker.
Bill Greer, vice president of Airbus North American Engineering, says he cannot comment on the tanker situation.
Boeing’s defense facility would likely land many of the Kansas tanker jobs, says Scott Hamilton, founder of Issaquah, Wash.-based aviation consulting firm Leeham Co. LLC.
“That’s because Boeing has a modification center there and Airbus doesn’t,” he says.
EADS says it would build its tanker at a new facility in Mobile, Ala. along with commercial freighter versions of the A330.
Darcy says the plant would churn out 40 aircraft a year.
Although he wouldn’t speculate on how Wichita companies might figure into the supply chain of the Alabama plant, he says there would likely be opportunities.
“We are still adding to our KC-45 supplier team and, of course, it may also evolve over the life of the program,” he says.
U.S. Air Force aerial refueling tanker
Contract: $35 billion to replace the Eisenhower-era KC-135.
Expected bidders: The Boeing Co. and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co.

Read more: Boeing tanker win means more immediate Kansas jobs, work for local suppliers - Wichita Business Journal

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