UPDATE: Murray announces Boeing wins Phase II of Air Traffic Modernization Contract

(Tukwila, WA) – On April 16th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray toured Boeing's Longacres facility in Tukwila. Before an audience of Boeing workers, she got an update on two of Boeing's innovative projects: next-generation air traffic management, for which she secured $45 million over the past three years; and Connexion, Boeing's new airborne Internet access system.

In her remarks, Senator Murray discussed her efforts to stop a campaign by Airbus to kill the Boeing Tanker deal.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

Thank you, Bob, Scott and Kevin. I really want to thank all of you for working so hard to keep your company and our country on the cutting edge of commercial aerospace.

I wanted to come here today to get an update on what you're doing, to see some of your products in action, and to talk about the real fight that's taking place in Washington, D.C. this year. It's a fight that will determine whether we continue to have a strong aerospace industry in the United States, or whether we're going to let American jobs to be shipped overseas to places like Toulouse, France.

We all know that Boeing has a long and proud history in our state. I want to make sure you also have a strong future here, and that's why what you're doing is so important. One of the reasons you make the best products in the world is because you never stand still. You keep innovating whether it's in air traffic management, airborne Internet access, or dozens of other areas. You are the people who are keeping Boeing two steps ahead of the competition, and I'm really proud to represent you and to support you in Washington, D.C.

Before I talk about some the exciting things you're doing with ATM and Connexion and some of the great news coming out next week. I want to say a few words about the climate that we're in because I know the past few years have really been challenging for everyone at Boeing. You've been hit by a lot of things – from the slow economy to the impact of September 11th. I know there's a direct connection between what happens to Boeing workers, and what happens to the economy of our entire state. It's my job to make sure that as a country we're doing the things that support good, family-wage jobs, keep our people safe, and build a good future.

Workers Assistance

So whenever I see something pop up in Congress that threatens us, I get to work. For example, after September 11th, you may remember, Congress was going to provide millions of dollars in relief to the airlines which is important, because they’re your customers but Congress wasn’t going to provide a dime of help to all the workers who were laid off. I thought that was completely wrong, so I stood up.

I introduced a bill to provide unemployment assistance to all the workers – including Boeing workers – who lost their jobs because of the challenges in aviation. The White House fought me "tooth and nail."

The President's Budget Director even sent a letter to Congress urging Members of Congress to vote against my amendment. But we didn't give up, and—in the end – with your hard work and support, we won, and laid-off Boeing workers got help.

Those are the types of things that I do in the Senate to support Washington state families. But I don't just want to help people if they lose their jobs. I want to make sure they can keep their jobs in the first place. That's why I've fought for the things that you need from opening foreign markets, to introducing a bill last month to extend the R&D tax credit.

And we've had some real victories. Over the past year, I worked with a lot of people at the state and local level to help us land the 7E7, and to ensure that Boeing Commercial Airlines has a bright future here.

Update on Air Force Tankers

But, as you know, there's a very big fight over the Boeing Tanker deal, and frankly, it has the fingerprints of Airbus all over it. I want to share with you the latest episode in the debate because it really surprised me and it's made me even more energized to fight for you.

For years, Airbus has been making bogus claims suggesting they're a "big American employer." A while back, I asked the Commerce Department to investigate those claims. The Department of Commerce confirmed my suspicions and almost entirely discredited Airbus' claims. But Airbus is still using those bogus figures on Capitol Hill trying to get Members of Congress to think that they're somehow an American company when the truth is they're trying to take jobs away from American workers.

During some of the recent developments on the Boeing Tanker deal, Airbus kept popping up in news articles saying they want to reopen the competition. I just got tired of it, so I decided to call them on it.

Three weeks ago, I sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense. I urged him to resist unnecessary delays on the Tanker deal that could threaten the safety of our troops, and could weaken our ability to project force around the world. And I told him what I thought of Airbus. I wrote:

"Rather than honorably accept the competition's outcome, Airbus has resorted to a campaign of distortion and half-truths in an effort to kill the proposed Air Force tanker lease program"

"Airbus's corporate behavior on this matter cannot be tolerated by the US government. Its actions are further delaying our ability to meet a key military requirement, and if successful, will result in the outsourcing of thousands of American manufacturing jobs to a foreign corporation that is unfairly subsidized by European governments and that unfairly competes with the only US aircraft manufacturer. Such an outcome represents ill-conceived public policy, and will also unfairly punish the nearly 30,000 workers who will be employed should the Air Force tanker lease program proceed with a domestic manufacturer, as currently planned." Here was my closing line to Rumsfeld:

"But you and I both know that many of these critics will not be satisfied until they stop this contract with the only American airplane manufacturer capable of producing a new generation tanker. We cannot allow that to happen."

I sent that letter on March 22nd. I still have not gotten a response from the Secretary of Defense, but a very funny thing happened. Two days after I sent my letter to Secretary Rumsfeld, I got a response from someone else, the Chairman and CEO of Airbus -North America, Ralph Crosby. Now I don’t know what's going on in the mail department over at the Pentagon. I sent a letter to Rumsfeld—and before I get a reply from him – I get a letter back from Airbus. That's very disturbing. Mr. Crosby's letter just repeated all of Airbus's bogus claims. So, I decided to write back to Mr. Crosby.

I told him that Airbus keeps trying to ignore the fact that the tanker competition already took place in back in 2002 and that Boeing won and Airbus lost based on each company’s proposed design, technology, delivery schedule, and overall risk reduction plan.

I also had some suggestions for Mr. Crosby. First, I said let's have a full accounting of what Airbus has done similar to all the information that's been subpoenaed from Boeing and the Defense Department. Second, let's have a full accounting of Airbus' lobbying activities including any support Airbus has given to tanker opponents. Third, let's see the proposal that Airbus put forward in 2002. And finally, either provide some real numbers about jobs or stop making those phony claims.

By the way, I sent a copy of my letter to Secretary Rumsfeld. I have yet to hear back from Mr. Crosby, but this fight is not over. The tanker deal—and the future of our country's aerospace industry—is too important, and I'm not going to back down.

Boeing's Innovative Work

Now that I've brought you up to speed on that fight, I want to turn to some of the exciting things that you’re working on here at Longacres, at Factoria, and Boeing Field. The good news is that Americans are really returning to air travel, and Boeing is in a great position to encourage that – and to take advantage of it. We'll soon reach the level of air travelers we had prior to the attacks on 9/11, and we'll exceed those numbers in the near future. We are currently struggling – just ask SeaTac – with building the infrastructure in a timely enough fashion to keep up with the growth in freight and passenger air travel.

Air Traffic Management - ATM

Nationally, our air traffic control system is a patchwork of technologies and systems that really need to be upgraded to meet the demand. As you know, we need to come up with better ways to get more planes in-and-out of our airports. Improving on ground technology and developing next generation aircraft like the 7E7 – will help meet those challenges. However, one way we can solve the capacity issue at our nations' airports is to improve our air traffic control system.

As the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee, I provided $45 million over the last three years to develop a modern, satellite based air traffic control system. The goal is simple - to create an efficient, safe and secure management system that will increase capacity and give controllers and pilots more information. As you know, your ATM Division was awarded the first phase of that funding, and you’ve made great progress so far. I know the FAA has been very impressed with your work.

Great News for Boeing's Air Traffic Management Workers

That's why I'm really excited by the great news that's coming out next week. The FAA is going to extend your contract until August 31st to act as a bridge between Phase I and Phase II. It will ensure that the Boeing workers assigned to GCNSS will keep their jobs during the contract competition. It will keep your momentum going. It's worth $3.1 million, and I think it's a great vote of confidence in the progress you're making. Boeing ATM is well on its way to providing the air traveling public with an air traffic management system that will greatly improve capacity and security, and I want to congratulate you on that.


Another area where Boeing is improving civil aviation is in meeting the needs of passengers. To attract customers – especially business travelers – airlines must provide new services. So you've begun to install the infrastructure to allow customers to access the Internet while in route to their destination. Connexion essentially wires the airplane so that it acts as a Wi-Fi connection. It will give passengers more options. I know this system will be operating on certain international flights this year, but – like all of you – I look forward to having this service available for wide-spread use here in the US as well.

These next-generation advances in civil aviation show that you are keeping Boeing on the cutting edge. Your work is critical to our state and critical to our country, and I'm proud to stand up for you in the United States Senate. Thank you for improving technology and making Boeing more competitive around the world. Thank you for developing the systems that will move aviation into the next century. And finally, thank you for welcoming me here today.

You build the best products in the world, and I know that together we can beat Airbus any day of the week, and give Boeing a future here in Washington state that is as bright and as proud as its past.