Senators question Northrop/EADS tanker job stats

Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray have asked the U.S. secretaries of commerce and labor to review job projections given by Northrop Grumman and EADS for their tanker bid.

In their original pitch to supply the U.S. Air Force with aerial refueling tankers, Northrop and EADS said their KC-30 tanker would create about 25,000 jobs in this country. Northrop and EADS revised that figure to 48,000 after the Air Force picked the KC-30 over the Boeing Co.’s KC-767.

From the senators’ letter:

As we understand it, NG/EADS will not be under any contractual obligation to create jobs across the United States, and we are trying to determine if they are overestimating job projections. In the past, EADS subsidiary Airbus Industrie (Airbus) has exaggerated U.S. job creation claims. In 2003, Airbus asserted that commercial work on its planes had created 100,000 U.S. jobs. In response to a request from Senator Murray, the United States Department of Commerce investigated and could not verify the job creation claims because Airbus calculations were “based on imprecise terms.”

The aerospace industry is critical to our national and economic security. In 2006, in recognition of the unique and ongoing workforce challenges facing the U.S. aerospace industry, Congress established the Interagency Aerospace Revitalization Task Force. In January 2008, the Task Force reported that in order to effectively grow our aerospace industry we must create jobs for skilled engineers, technicians, machinists, tool and die makers, and technical writers.

NG/EADS has stated a tanker assembly plant will be located in Mobile, Alabama. Its business model suggests high skill jobs will be created and maintained in Europe and other foreign countries. Given the vital importance of the aerospace industry to U.S. interests, it is essential to substantiate the number and quality of the NG/EADS U.S. job claims. It is also imperative for Congress to have this information to make informed decisions about the tanker program. For these reasons, we ask you to verify the NG/EADS job claims and provide an estimate of the true employment impact of the KC-45 Aerial Refueling Tanker Program.

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