Murray Fires Back at Airbus Tanker Claims

Apr 06 2004

Senator Again Challenges Airbus to Justify Comments on Job Creation and Economic Contributions

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Patty Murray today responded to a letter she received on March 24, 2004 from Mr. Ralph Crosby, Jr, the Chairman and CEO of EADS North America.

Murray had previously written to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld calling into question Airbus' campaign of distortion and half-truths in an effort to kill the Air Force tanker lease program.

The text of Senator Murray's letter follows:

April 6, 2004

Ralph D. Crosby, Jr.
EADS North America
815 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20006

Dear Mr. Crosby:

Thank you for your letter of March 24, 2004. I appreciate your attempt to clarify your position.

Unfortunately, the vague and ambiguous language in your letter has served to underscore my earlier concerns about Airbus's efforts to undermine the Air Force Tanker Modernization program. Additionally, I continue to seriously question Airbus's unsubstantiated claims regarding its employment and economic impact in the United States.

Your letter outlines, as you have stated publicly on several occasions, Airbus's desire to compete for the Air Force Tanker Modernization program. Your continued insistence on Airbus's qualifications to compete in such a contest seems to belie the fact that the tanker competition already took place in 2002 - a competition that Boeing won and Airbus lost based on each company's proposed design, technology, delivery schedule, and overall risk reduction plan.

As you know, the Air Force informed EADS on April 2, 2002 that its platform was deemed high-risk for the Air Force's operational requirements for the refueling tankers. I remain puzzled by Airbus's continued effort to re-open the tanker competition two years after its final conclusion.

To my knowledge, the Airbus 2002 proposal has never been made public. Providing the public with a clear picture of Airbus' capabilities at the time of the competition would help to address concerns refuting the competitions outcome.

I continue to believe that Airbus has engaged in a campaign of distortion and half-truths to discredit the Air Force, Boeing and the KC-767 lease program. Your letter did not dispel my concern that Airbus' is engaged in a campaign to undermine the tanker lease program. I would welcome a full accounting of Airbus' continued involvement with the tanker lease program on par with the various information subpoenaed from both the Defense Department and Boeing. A full accounting of Airbus' lobbying activities including support given to tanker opponents would provide the public with a fuller sense of this debate.

As enlightening as the examination of the facts may be, I do not think Airbus is willing to be as transparent in detailing its communications with the Congress, the Administration, and others outside of government as the Boeing Company has been. From my vantage point, Airbus' involvement in the campaign to discredit Boeing and the tanker program could not be clearer.

I am also troubled by your continued assertions regarding Airbus's economic and employment presence in the US. Your letter states that Airbus "supports" a certain number of US jobs, and that an Airbus tanker would be "completed" by US workers. In my view, an Airbus tanker "completed" by US workers is a tanker manufactured in Europe with the overwhelming number of jobs also created in Europe.

I would appreciate any solid, verifiable, and straight-forward information detailing the number of US workers and vendors that Airbus directly employs, as well as specific direct employment and US content relating to manufacturing a notional Airbus tanker aircraft.

As you know, I earlier challenged Airbus' many rhetorical claims about jobs, suppliers and economic contributions in this country. The Department of Commerce confirmed my suspicions and almost entirely discredited Airbus' claims. To date, despite vows to do so, Airbus has not provided the Department of Commerce any additional credible information on its contributions to U.S. workers and the U.S. economy. The truth is Airbus continues to market itself to the Congress and the American people with assertions that appear to be untrue and dishonest. You are aware of my concerns, as well as those raised by the Department of Commerce, and I encourage you to provide justification for Airbus' direct claims on jobs, suppliers and economic contribution.

Finally, to set the record straight, Airbus did file a bid protest challenge regarding the leasing provisions contained in the FY'03 DoD Appropriations Act (PL 107-248). The Air Force executed the lease of four commercial Boeing 737 special mission aircraft long before the Air Force attempted to proceed with the KC-767 program. The Airbus bid protest was specific to the four 737 aircraft but I must conclude that the real Airbus target was the lease program itself and ultimately the Air Force's ability to move forward with a 100 plane KC-767 lease with the Boeing company. The Airbus bid protest was dismissed by the General Accounting Office.

Again, thank you for your response to my letter. I look forward to hearing from you.


Patty Murray
United States Senator

CC: The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense