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EADS Unlikely to Protest KC-X, Unless

With the contract award for the $45 billion tanker program less than a month off, EADS NA board chairman Ralph Crosby said today that his company would not rule out a protest, but that his company was unlikely to file one barring an "egregious process error."

That, of course, does not rule out a protest from Boeing if they lose. And it does not rule out a protest from EADS NA if they conclude the Air Force screwed in an impressive fashion.

Crosby also told reporters this morning that he believes that, once again, the Airbus-based tanker will be cheaper than the Boeing 767. "If it’s not we lose," he said simply.

He pointed again to the operating cost spread between the EADS and the Boeing planes. For shorter flights the EADS plane would be approximately 15 percent cheaper. For medium-length flights (say from Guam) there would be an almost $3 a gallon difference. For really long-distance refueling flights there would be a spread of almost 45 percent ($28.90 vs.  $41.87), Crosby said.

Crosby declined to discuss the recent tanking accident in Australia saying the investigation has not been concluded. He repeated earlier comments by EADS officials that the boom has been tested in more than 1,500 refueling contacts.

Finally, in a study clearly aimed at winning friends on Capitol Hill, he said the company would release an "independent study" next week detailing jobs generated by the two programs on a district by district basis.

Now we just need to find out who won.

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