EADS North America has received initial offers from 70 locations in 32 US states in its search for a site for a possible Airbus KC-330 tanker assembly line. Five states dropped out of the race after registering their interest at the start of last month.

EADS plans to issue a request for proposals to a shortlist of locations in the second quarter, with responses due in the third quarter and a site selection decision planned for year-end. EADS is guaranteeing to locate an Airbus long-range aircraft engineering centre at the chosen site, but plans for a co-located military aircraft modification line and final assembly line are dependent of the US Air Force launching a competition for a new aerial refuelling tanker.

The engineering centre, which will work on cabin and cargo customisation of the A330, A340 and A350, will open early next year and employ 150 people by 2008. The centre represents an investment of $7-10 million, says EADS. The modification line would be a $220 million investment and could employ 500 people within three years of a USAF KC-330 order, says EADS. The facility would modify green aircraft flown in the Europe or, if justified by the size of the US Air Force order, assembled at an adjacent facility. The final assembly line would be a $380 million investment and could employ another 500 people within four years of a USAF order, says EADS. Locations responding to EADS's request for information include Boeing's "home town" of Everett, Washington; the former Grumman plant in Calverton, New York; Mobile, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Panama City, Florida. Each state was allowed to submit up to three locations. EADS is looking for a site with access to a deep-water port.

Source: Flight International