EADS has launched the search for a US site for potential final assembly of KC-330 aerial refuelling tankers for the US Air Force. With an open competition to supply the USAF with a new tanker not yet assured, the European firm plans to anchor the chosen location with an Airbus engineering centre.

US subsidiary EADS North America has issued a request for information to 50 US states, with site selection planned for the fourth quarter, regardless of whether a tanker competition is initiated this year. "What we want to do here is simply be prepared," says chief executive Ralph Crosby.

Depending on the size and pace of any USAF procurement, the selected site's responsibility would range from modification to final assembly of the KC-330. The planned Military Modification and Assembly Line (MMAL) could cost up to $600 million and employ 1,150 people by 2012, but this is "highly dependent on delivery rates for the KC-330", EADS says.

The new Airbus Long-Range Aircraft Engineering Centre, which is planned to be co located with the MMAL, is not dependent on the tanker programme and "is a go", says EADS. To support the A330, A340 and A350 commercial aircraft programmes, the centre will begin operations in the first quarter of next year and employ more than 100 engineers. A further 200 are employed at Airbus's design centre in Wichita, Kansas.


Source: Flight International