Airbus’ parent company didn’t wait until today’s start of the Farnborough Air Show to take some shots at its chief rival, with a top executive calling Boeing’s analysis of the global commercial-airplane market “bloody nonsense.”
Rainer Hertrich, co-chief executive of European Aeronautic Defence & Space ignited the fireworks over the weekend, leaping to the podium several times as EADS held media briefings enlivened by impromptu responses to questions about Boeing.
In short, Hertrich took several opportunities to take pot-shots at Boeing’s forecasts and claims. In particular, he feels that Boeing is banging its “Made in the USA” drum too loudly and that Airbus would play ball.
After arriving in this pastoral setting by helicopter, Hertrich’s co-CEO Philippe Camus (the company’s top job must be shared between Germany and France) made a strong pitch for EADS to be allowed to compete for the U.S. Air Force tanker contract Boeing thought it had wrapped up until scandal stalled it.
If it received the tanker deal, Camus said, EADS would create jobs in the United States, look to partner with a U.S. prime contractor and create a U.S. facility to do more than half of the work.
“With our increased market presence, we will increase our industrial presence,” he promised.
“Some people are speaking of outsourcing,” he pointedly added, clearly referring to Boeing. “We are speaking of insourcing.”
[Hentrich] said the commercial jet that would be modified for an EADS tanker, the Airbus A330, already has 40 percent U.S. content; the amount would grow to more than 50 percent for the tankers.
And the superjumbo A380, if fitted with GE engines, would have more than 50 percent U.S. content, Hertrich said.
“The (Boeing) 7E7 will have 35 percent U.S. content,” he said. “So what is the American aircraft?”
I’ve said many times that I’m willing to pay Boeing a little more than I’d be willing to pay someone overseas simply on the principle of buying American. But, in this day and age, is there any such thing in the manufacturing sector?
The Air Force will need new tankers at some point. Probably sooner than pre-9/11 estimates predicted and probably not as soon as Boeing and Pentagon champions of the 767 tanker wish.
I want what I’ve wanted all along for this issue: A wise decision.