Boeing’s KC-X bid won’t go hiking on Appalachian Trail

Boeing decided last week to move the second 787 production line to Charleston, South Carolina. As a primarily military aviation journalist, I, of course, immediately wondered what this means for Boeing’s KC-X tanker bid. (I apparently wasn’t the only one.)

The 787 move to Charleston potentially shifts South Carolina’s GOP-leaning political delegation into the pro-Boeing camp, perhaps helping offset Northrop Grumman’s support from Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia. South Carolina already had reason to be miffed. Remember during the last competition when Northrop Grumman spurned South Carolina for the final boom assembly location?

But I also wondered if there might be an industrial angle to Charleston/KC-X story.

Boeing told me in September that they were looking for a low-cost location for the KC-X finishing center, perhaps shifting the work away from Wichita, Kansas.

So I asked Boeing’s KC-X spokesman last week if Charleston was in the running. I got a surprisingly direct answer a few days later.

“Our answer is no,” the spokesman said.

Well, thank you. That answers that – sort of. So if Charleston is ruled out, where could Boeing install the finishing center if they win the KC-X contract? The answer is not trivial because it comes with both cost and political consequences.

Hmm … could it be here

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5 Responses to Boeing’s KC-X bid won’t go hiking on Appalachian Trail

  1. Wirawan 30 November, -0001 at 12:00 am #

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  2. Dave 6 November, 2009 at 5:29 pm #

    Well divide and conquer is a time honored and well tested strategy…

  3. airplanejim 6 November, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    I would love to hear the USAF debriefing to Boeing on the KC-10 contract. It should be interesting. With USAF’s recent record of contract awards and missteps the possibility of a protest is at least 50/50.
    As for San Antonio, why not? Charleston will have enough problems coming up to speed for the 787 much less trying to put the KC-767 in there too. Charleston has infrastructure to build, systems to develop and personnel to train. San Antonio has all that in place and ready to go.

  4. Royce 6 November, 2009 at 8:14 pm #

    “So I asked Boeing’s KC-X spokesman last week if Charleston was in the running. I got a surprisingly direct answer a few days later.”

    Kansas Sen. Brownback has been a big Boeing supporter on KC-X, and Wichita is having a hard time right now because of the downturn in the piston and business jet segments. They are playing a very dangerous political game, particularly after they just burned Washington’s pols by moving the second 787 line to Charleston.

    Do they have any friends they aren’t working hard to piss off?

  5. airplanejim 6 November, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    “They are playing a very dangerous political game, particularly after they just burned Washington’s pols by moving the second 787 line to Charleston.”

    Wait a minute! You mean to tell me that the Wash political bunch are going to no longer support Boeing when 90+% of the Boeing commercial operation will still be in that state after Charleston is up and running? If that is so, then the state of Wash. deserves to watch Boeing leave. Big B has about 70,000 employees in that state. In spite of the wishes to have Airbag come to the NW, “it ain’t gonna happen” Paul Bunyan! You talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.

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