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FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2011, 10:32 A.M.

Now the champagne corks can pop on Boeing tanker

Washington state elected officials are practically giddy this morning as the European manufacturer of Airbus announced it will not contest the Air Force decision to give a humongous tanker contract to Boeing.

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. officially bowed out of the competition this morning, saying it will not appeal last Thursday's award of a $30 billion-plus contract for the first phase of replacing KC-135 tankers.

Here are a couple official yippeeee!!! statements.

From Gov. Chris Gregoire: “The decision by EADS is more proof that Boeing submitted the best proposal to the U.S. Air Force, and provides the public with more assurance that Boeing will build the most cost-effective and safest refueling tanker that best serves our military and our taxpayers. There’s no doubt Boeing and its workforce build the best planes in the world. I congratulate the 11,000 Washington aerospace workers that will play a role in manufacturing the next tanker, and look forward to seeing the first tanker come off the line.”

From Sen. Maria Cantwell: “Today is a proud day for all Washingtonians. Today’s announcement makes official what Washingtonians know in our bones: We build the best airplanes in the world. Even with the deck stacked against them, Washington aerospace workers prevailed over long odds, stiff competition and illegal foreign subsidies. Boeing, its workers and my colleagues in Congress never gave up in fighting for these 11,000 jobs.”

Remember that when EADS won the contract in 2008, Boeing challenged the decision and the Air Force had to start all over again. This decision suggests that Boeing can get going with the R&D portion of the contract.

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