EADS Resolves Rifts, Opens Alabama Facility to Help Focus on USA
Airbus parent company EADS recently announced its choice of a site in Alabama to build a new refuelling plane for the US military, as part of its bid to win the USAF’s $23.5 billion contract to supply the next generation of air-air refuelling aircraft. EADS said the Brookley Industrial Complex in Mobile, AL had beaten off competition from Florida, Mississippi and South Carolina as part of a very competitive process to host the “KC-330 Advanced Tanker” production facility, which would hire up to 1,100 personnel if EADS should win against Boeing’s KC-767. The A330 was selected as Britain’s next-generation tanker aircraft, for instance, in an innovative leasing arrangement that echoes some aspects of the cancelled Boeing KC-767 deal.
This effort is also interesting in light of EADS recent corporate and legislative challenges.
EADS took pains to stress that the company was in Alabama for the long haul, with an on-site “Airbus Engineering Center” that EADS spokespeople claim will begin recruiting next year. The company has been working hard to improve its access to the U.S. defense market, despite congressional hostility and legislative proposals that have hampered its efforts to be considered for military contracts, and even put a crimp in project-related alliance discussions with U.S. contractors like Northrop Grumman. Efforts to become a “more American” company and create job dependencies in key congressional districts are certainly part of that game.
The firm has also been reeling lately over a major executive battle that has left its top jobs in limbo, even as the cost of the super-jumbo A380 has left the firm somewhat tight for cash and rival Boeing has surged ahead with projects like the 777 and 787. That executive conflict was recently resolved, but it has cost the company considerable momentum and some fallout from that conflict is expected to persist.