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LETTER: Fairness for Boeing

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 24, 2009 - The Greater St. Louis Labor Council, AFL-CIO and U.S. Sens. Christopher "Kit" Bond and Claire McCaskill deserve high praise for making people aware that the Pentagon's cuts to the C-17 and F/A-18 programs could eliminate 16,000 good-paying local jobs 

Similarly, if the Pentagon outsources its $100 billion tanker aircraft contract to the French aerospace company EADS, an additional 44,000 U.S. jobs could be lost.

One might suppose that EADS ought to be disqualified from the outset, given that it financed the development of its Airbus A330 using $5 billion in illegal European subsidies, which are the basis of the largest WTO lawsuit ever filed by the U.S. Trade Representative.

However, what makes the EADS' tanker bid even more appalling is that the company has no experience in building tanker aircraft with advanced refueling booms. The Government Accountability Office noted that the Airbus A330 tanker could not refuel all necessary aircraft, was inferior in combat situations and would cost billions more in fuel.

Conversely, Boeing has built or modified more than 2,000 tanker aircraft in the United States over the past 50 years, with a proven record of combat readiness and reliability.

This time around, members of Congress need to make sure that the bidding procedure for the United States of America's tanker aircraft be handled in a fair and sensible manner. Then, may the best plane win.

Hugh M. McVey | is president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, Jefferson City