Friday, June 08, 2007

Airbus's Bad Mojo Up North

The Star reports today that the military wing of Airbus has attempted a high stakes game of capture the flag with the Canadian government by submitting an unsolicited proposal to the Defence Committee at Parliament. The proposal would place 8 A400M airlifters and a refurb job on 9 existing C130s in place of the previously planned purchase of 17 C130Js from Lockheed Martin.

A VP of Airbus has said that this is a "good deal" because Airbus has a plane 'about ready to roll off the assembly line'.

All of which is news here at the Dougloid Papers because first flight of the A400M is not scheduled until the first quarter of 2008, EIS is not until some time in 2009, the bigger players are going to get served first, there are rumors of delays to the program, and the first A400M isn't even in final assembly.

What's really interesting about all this is the fact that Pratt & Whitney Canada seemed to have the engine competition for the A400M sewed up with a better product at a good price until representations were made by European governments with an interest in workshare, resulting in Canada losing the engine part of the A400M project.

That must have left a bad taste in the mouth to be long remembered in our neighbor to the North.

Canada's like a lot of places in North America-it's pretty regional, people know each other, and a lot gets done based on handshakes and mutual trust. Someone once said Canada's like Minnesota only the beer's better.

The flip side of this way of dealing is that people who do shabby things on this side of the pond are remembered for a long time. A lot of jobs are on the line in Quebec, and P&W is one of the crown jewels of the North American aircraft industry. So it had to hurt bad, and the aerospace community in Canada being a fairly small one with long memories, I am sure the story got told in break rooms and at conferences and at kitchen tables and at bars up around Montreal where the P&W workforce gathers on Friday afternoons.

You don't treat people like poor relatives and second class citizens and walk away without repercussions, in Canada or anywhere else.

I would be surprised if this proposal was not dead on arrival because of this, so one wonders why it was made at all-perhaps desperation to make a sale on Airbus' part?

I'll be tracking this one.


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