State officials disappointed in Air Force decision

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 25, 2011

Government and economic development officials in Alabama were disappointed yesterday when the U.S. Air Force announced Boeing Co. will build a new fleet of refueling tank jets.

The other company in the running, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., or EADS, had planned to build the giant airbuses in Mobile, Ala., and the decision would have meant 1,500 new jobs for Alabama. The Alabama factory was expected to cost $600 million and created a need for numerous smaller supplier companies.

Despite the disappointment Andalusia’s Seth Hammett, who recently took the helm of the Alabama Development Office, said Alabama is ideally situated for aerospace industry growth.

“EADS has already made a substantial investment in Alabama with its engineering center in Mobile,” Hammett said.

“More than 300 aerospace companies worldwide have made Alabama their home and, obviously we would have welcomed the tanker project and worked to ensure that it thrived,” Hammett said. “Our state is ideally situated for aerospace industry growth and we will continue to market the many advantages Alabama offers to new and expanding industries.”

The Air Force reversed itself in the decision announced yesterday. In 2008, the Air Force announced that EADS would build the new fleet. However, Boeing challenged the decision, delaying manufacture.

The award must be funded by Congress.