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Dan Catchpole | dcatchpole@heraldnet.com
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2007, 10:02 a.m.

‘Bama demands Boeing apology

An Alabama senator has asked the Boeing Co.’s chief executive for an apology, following “offensive remarks” made by Boeing officials about the skills of Mobile workers.

Over the past few weeks, the Boeing Co. and duo Northrop Grumman-EADS have swapped insults as they vie for a multi-billion dollar contract supplying the U.S. Air Force with aerial refueling tankers.

As part of Boeing’s public relations campaign, it asserts the company’s KC-767 will be built by well-trained workers here in Everett.

But the company went one step further, sticking its proverbial foot in its mouth last week, and suggested that Alabama, where Northrop Grumman-EADS would build its KC- 30 tanker, would be a “risky” place to build a tanker because the workers weren’t experienced in building planes.

Republican Sen. Richard Shelby sent Jim McNerney a fax yesterday, scolding Boeing’s head for the comments.

From The Hill: “To publicly assert that Mobile, Ala., is a risky choice to build the new Air Force tanker is ignorant and completely unfounded,” Shelby wrote to McNerney on Oct. 3. “Mobile has a proven track record of establishing world-class manufacturing operations.”

The Press-Register labels Boeing as “two-faced” in its editorial, published last week.

Their rationale? Mobile was a runner up to Everett when Boeing looked at final assembly sites for its 787 – a point also emphasized by Alabama politicians.

A Boeing spokesman told the Press-Register the comments "were intended to describe the technical and schedule risk associated with setting up any new assembly operation versus using an existing and proven assembly line."

The Press-Register points out that Boeing has experienced its share of troubles producing 767 tankers for Italy and Japan. Local analyst Scott Hamilton told the paper: “Boeing is beginning to overplay its hand, badly. It makes one wonder if they fear the KC-30 really does have a shot at winning the competition on the merits."


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