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Sat, Mar 03, 2007

Boeing Says It Will Stop Orders For C-17 Parts

Lack Of New Orders May End Production Of Transport

For the second time in as many years, Boeing laid down an ultimatum Friday -- announcing it will cease ordering parts from suppliers for new C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft that aren't already under contract, or have firm commitments. In effect, Boeing is threatening to shut down C-17 production, unless it wins new orders from the US Air Force.

According to the Associated Press, the last plane from an initial Air Force order for 190 of the four-engine heavy transports is due to be delivered in October 2009. Due to the required 34-month lead time required in building the plane, Boeing says it needs a commitment to avoid a halt in production.

"We had hoped to keep the production line active and viable to protect this important national asset affordably while the US government completed its decision process on the future of the C-17 program, especially in light of the current concerns over the aging C-5A," said Dave Bowman, vice president and C-17 program manager for Boeing.

Boeing is serious about its threat; the company has already notified some 700 suppliers in 42 states. Those companies employ more than 7,000 workers; in all, approximately 25,000 US jobs are somehow connected to the C-17.

As Aero-News reported last year, Boeing made the same threat in August... which resulted in Congress allocating an additional $2 billion to pay for 10 more Globemasters in its FY2007 budget.

This time around, Boeing has the support of its labor unions, which would be harshly impacted by the shutdown in production of the last aircraft line built in Long Beach, CA.

"We are very concerned that cutbacks in the program would disperse workers with key skills that would be extremely difficult to put back in place if the need arose," said Frank Larkin, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which is lobbying lawmakers to keep the C-17 program alive.

The USAF has not picked a replacement aircraft to succeed the C-17.

FMI: www.af.mil, www.boeing.com, www.iam.org

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