I see that Boeing has promised BAE Systems a major share in any future tanker projects for the world market. This seems conditional on their consortium winning the imminent UK tanker bid using ex-British Airways Boeing 767s against the EADS-led group proposing Airbus A330s.

With a number of countries including the USA already selecting 767s as tankers, a Boeing/BAE win in the UK will realistically lock out the Airbus A330 for a future tanker bid in any volume. But BAE Systems is a 20% owner of Airbus, designing and making the wings in the UK. What a curious strategy - EADS, 80% owner of Airbus, must be pulling its hair out at this state of affairs.

BAE is being clever in backing both horses; if its bid with Boeing wins it will get some 767 conversion work and if the A330 bid wins it will get the wing manufacture. But if the 767 wins, BAE will have dealt a fatal blow to Airbus's attempt to break into a market estimated by Boeing to be worth 500-600 aircraft in the next 10 years. In addition, the UK taxpayer provided launch aid to BAE for the A330 wing with a royalty being received on each set shipped to repay this. It took me about 30s to work out the farcicalness of this situation and as a taxpayer I await with interest any logical explanation from the UK Ministry of Defence if the A330 bid is not selected.

Tim Salter

Ringwood, Hampshire, UK

Source: Flight International