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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Airbus

High rivers a blow to wind farms

When the wind is blowing and the Columbia River is flowing, wind turbine operators in Washington have a problem they are looking to France and Germany for help.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is in Europe for a 10-day trade mission, said she met Thursday with the chief executive officer of AREVA, a French firm that operates wind farms around the Tri-Cities. The problem of wind power and hydropower peaking at the same time has been particularly bad this year, she said.

“There are concerns about BPA shutting down wind power because of excess hydropower,” she said.

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.

Gov at Paris Air Show: Part Deux

Seattle will be the site of a  “summit” on aerospace suppliers next March and a Bellingham company will expand to reconfigure planes for an Austrian airline, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday.

Deals for both were struck during the second day of the Paris Air Show, which Gregoire is attending to boost the chances of selling more Boeing planes and the products of some 650 aerospace manufacturers and suppliers in Washington.

The summit, to be hosted by Boeing and the state Commerce Department, is expected to draw about 600 businesses and be the first of its kind in North America, Gregoire said in a telephone press conference.

“All in all, it was a pretty good day for us,” she said.

The governor also defended the 10-day trip out of the state — she stopped in Spain before Paris to talk with the company that will dig the tunnel for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement in Seattle, and will travel to Hamburg to talk with BMW and other companies making carbon-fiber parts at a new Moses Lake facility — as worth the $40,000 price tag for herself, two staff members and three representatives of the Commerce Department.

“I'm here promoting our state,” she said. “We are not going to come out of this recession with me sitting in my office.”

She didn't attend the last Paris Air Show in 2009, “and I took criticism for not going.”

She met with top executives from Boeing, lobbying for Washington to be the site for any expansion of the company's 737 jetliner production. She also met with the American chief executive officer of Boeing's aviation industry rival Airbus, which also buys parts from aviation suppliers in Washington. “I made clear to them I fully appreciate we're the Number Two state in the nation with (companies) supplying to Airbus.”

Asked if that meeting was awkward, considering she helped lead the lobbying for Boeing to beat out Airbus for a U.S. Air Force contract to build a new refueling tanker to replace the KC-135, Gregoire said she made clear she was rooting for “my home team.” 

“We didn't talk very much about the tanker at all,” she said.

Bonjour. Je m’appelle Chris. Je suis la gouverneur de Washington.

Gov. Chris Gregoire is in Paris this week, talking up Boeing at the biennial air show and talking up Washington as a place for the aerospace giant’s next assembly line.
In a telephone press conference after the first day of the Paris Air Show, where she helped open the state’s pavilion, Gregoire said she’s trying to boost all 650 of the state’s aerospace manufacturers and suppliers, not just its biggest one.. .

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, go inside the blog.

Tanker contract fuels Senate campaign

The nation’s nine-year debate on how to replace Air Force tankers became a talking point in two places Tuesday: the floor of the U.S. Senate and the Senate campaign in Washington state.

An amendment to next year’s Defense Authorization bill would have banned Airbus from getting a $35 billion contract to build the first round of replacements for the aging KC-135s, a move that would essentially seal the deal for Boeing. That amendment, co-sponsored by Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, crashed and burned along with some other high-profile amendments like an end to the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy when threat of a filibuster blocked the authorization bill.

Back in the airplane giant’s native state, Murray is clashing with Republican campaign rival Dino Rossi over whether a World Trade Organization ruling against Airbus should be considered when the Air Force decides which plane is best. In a joint appearance in Tacoma Monday, Rossi was asked about the WTO rulings should be a factor in awarding the contract, particularly if Airbus got hit harder than Boeing did.

His short answer was “No.”

That prompted the Murray campaign to hit Mach One in record time, saying that Rossi essentially didn’t care if the next generation of tanker was built by the French instead of good old American workers in the Puget Sound. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee and a longtime Murray ally, pronounced himself stunned with the answer and contended Rossi “clearly doesn’t understand the issue.”

“Does Rossi want to make Bastille Day a national holiday, too?”  Sadie Weiner of the state Democrats asked sarcastically.

By late morning, however, the Rossi campaign said he intepreted the question differently than others are. He thought the TNT was asking if about Boeing sanctions, not Airbus sanctions, when saying they shouldn’t be considered.

Just Rossi trying to cover his tracks because he doesn’t understand the issue, the Murray camp responded. Just Murray trying to distract attention from her record, the Rossi campaign countered.

Beyond the political back and forth, there was a question as to whether Rossi would have supported the Defense Authorization amendment to require the Pentagon to take unfair advantages into account.

Jennifer Morris, his campaign spokeswoman, said yes: “The Brownback amendment? He would have supported it.”

(Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, is another cosponsor of the amendment.)

So after about 24 hours of back and forth, Murray and Rossi are essentially in the same position on whether Airbus should have a chance to bid on the new tankers if it got unfair subsidies.

How did all this start? A look at the tape shows Rossi was asked two questions about the sanctions, the first of which was prefaced with a statement about how sboth sides are getting adverse WTO rulings and assumed the Airbus sanctions would be worse, and a follow-up when the questioner apparently felt he hadn’t answered the question. It was to the second question that he answered “No. Not a factor as far as I’m concerned. No.”

Murray quickly responded that she believed the sanctions should be a factor and , was introducing the amendment today to make the Pentagon take them into account. The editorial board then moved on to another topic, so Rossi didn’t follow up to clarify.

You can read the transcript of the questions, the Dicks’ and Rossi press release inside the blog, and decide for yourself who’s right (or at least who’s more right):

Murray on new tanker bid: Enough of ‘Endless delays’

Sen. Patty Murray’s staff has apparently peeled her off the ceiling enough to get a comment on reports the Pentagon will delay awarding the bid for a new Air Force aerial tanker yet still again. To wit:

“These endless delays come at the expense of our men and women in uniform, American workers, and our economy. I want to hear directly from the Pentagon on why we are again delaying this contract for a company that has had ample time to bid and compete. I also want to know why we continue to bend over backwards to accommodate an illegally subsidized foreign company.
“Concession after concession has been made to keep Airbus at the table. Yet we have seen no bid and no sign that they are willing to play by the rules. In fact, all we have seen are delay tactics and repeated efforts to gain U.S. market share and undercut American workers.
“Boeing’s workers have the know-how and product to build these tankers.  They are ready to compete.  It’s time to stop playing the waiting game and to move forward with getting these tankers into the hands of our men and women in uniform.”

Pentagon will wait for Airbus tanker bid

So this is  how much clout the Washington congressional delegation has: A day after five House members join in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates to keep the schedule on track for building a new tanker to replace the KC-135, the Pentagon announces…

It will extend the deadline by 60 days so Airbus can submit a bid.

To be fair, the Pentagon gets so much mail that it’s possible Gates hadn’t even gotten around to reading the letter from Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Doc Hastings, Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen and others from around the country. Maybe if they’d have sent a singing telegram or something to stand out from the crowd and catch his attention. Maybe if they’d camped out in his office. Who knows.

IIt’s also possible that after nearly nine years and two high-profile failures in trying to find a suitable replacement for some of the KC-135 fleet, someone at the Pentagon decided “What’s another 60 days to see if we can finally get this right?”

In any event, the Air Force will wait an extra two months before closing off bids. Right now The Boeing Co. is the only one bidding on the contract, which could be worth as much as $40 billion. Airbus, which apparently  has lost its U.S. partner Northrop Grumman, says with the extra time it can come up with a proposal to use a version of its A-330.

The Pentagon’s decision really torqued U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who said the World Trade Organization just confirmed Airbus gets illegal subsidies to build its planes. For the full text of her press release, go inside the blog.

WA congresspersons to Pentagon: Keep tanker timeline

Five members of Washington’s congressional delegation joined an effort to keep the Pentagon from delaying its selection the builder of the next air refueling tanker by asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates not to extend the timeline for making that choice.
Without mentioning either company by name, they are supporting the Boeing Co., and trying to close out rival Airbus.
Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Doc Hastings, and Democrats Jay Inslee, Adam Smith and Rick Larsen are among 16 members of the House urging Gates not to vary from the 75-day selection deadline announced in February. Their stated reasons include eight years of delay already in replacing the KC-135s, and the additional costs to taxpayers.

The KC-135, which was designed by Boeing in the 1950s and built through the early 1960s, is the backbone of the U.S. Air Force tanker fleet and the plane flown by the 92nd Air Refueling Wing and the Washington Air National Guard’s 141st Air Refueling Wing, both based at Fairchild Air Force Base.
Finding a replacement for part of the KC-135 fleet started some nine years ago, and has been marked by fraud, collusion, political bickering and pandering, mistakes and missteps. Meanwhile, the 135s keep flying in two war zones and for a variety of other military missions around the globe.
The process to select a new tanker is a subject of intense interest, the members of Congress wrote, but “the need for new tankers is long overdue.”
A consortium that included Northrop Grumman and EADS, the manufacturer of Airbus, beat out Boeing for an estimated $40 billion contract in early 2008. That award was thrown out a few months later after Boeing protested and the Government Accountability Office found problems with the selection process. New specifications were announced in February and Boeing notified the Air Force eight days later it would enter a new bid, again using a version of its 767 jetliner.
Four days later, Northrop Grumman said it wasn’t entering the competition. In late March, however, EADS said it would submit a proposal if the deadline was extended and “there is a fair chance to win.”

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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