Los Angeles Times
January 29, 2009
Airbus Won’t Bid To Build Air Force One
The firm cites business reasons, but some lawmakers balked at giving the job to a foreign firm.
By Peter Pae
The parent of European aircraft maker Airbus said Wednesday that it would not enter the competition to build a replacement for the president’s 747 Air Force One, a move that all but leaves Boeing Co. as the only potential bidder for the prestigious airplane contract.
The decision is likely to quell criticisms that began to mount in recent days, particularly from “buy American” proponents in Congress who have derided the possibility that a U.S. president could fly around in a European-designed airplane.
“Outsourcing Air Force One is not an option. It’s un-American,” said Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) as he proposed legislation Monday prohibiting the awarding of the contract to a foreign firm. “Are we going to replace the American apple pie with crepes?”
This month the Pentagon took the first steps in replacing the world’s most photographed aircraft by requesting information from potential providers, including Airbus. Boeing and archrival Airbus are the only two companies capable of building an aircraft as large and sophisticated as that used by the U.S. president…
The prospects of an Airbus Air Force One, however, prompted heated debates over what really is made in America given that Boeing planes also have a significant number of parts made overseas.
A spokesman for the U.S. unit of Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. said the decision was based not on political considerations but on a business case that didn’t make sense.