Patty in the News

CONGRATULATIONS to Boeing. The Air Force tanker contract is a $35 billion win for the company, its stockholders, employees, suppliers and the entire Puget Sound area.

There have been 10 years of fuss about this contract, which at one point was awarded to EADS, the French company that owns Airbus. We assume the Air Force did it better this time, and that the decision sticks. It has always been our thought that we wanted the Air Force to administer this competition fairly, and for Boeing to win it.

On our front page Friday we ran a photo of Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Jay Inslee celebrating the victory over the French. They all urged this outcome, but the politician who probably had more influence than any other was Rep. Norm Dicks.

It was Dicks' insistence that the Air Force calculate the lifetime fuel costs of the tanker over 40 years instead of 25 — a change that helped make the Boeing plane the less costly.

And because the Boeing plane was more than 1 percent less costly than the Airbus plane, none of the nonfinancial advantages of the A330 counted. And so Boeing won.

This is the best outcome. If the French had won this plane, they promised to build it in Alabama, which was better for America than building it in Toulouse. But we have had enough of airplane factories being built in the South at the expense of the Pacific Northwest.

This decision is very good news for the future of Boeing as a defense contractor. The company's military division would have been damaged very heavily if it had lost the tanker contract, and had a rival aerospace cluster formed in Alabama.

That said, a word to Boeing.

We hope you use this contract to train and develop a younger cadre of engineers to replace the ones who are now on a countdown to retirement. Engineering talent is the company's greatest off-the-books asset, and it has been neglected.

We hope, too, that management has learned a lesson from the three-year delay of the 787, which was caused by an ill-managed and overly aggressive program of contracting out to the four corners of the Earth.

Congratulations for getting the contract. Do remember to build it here.

- Seattle Times