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Alabama Senate panel tries to squeeze Airbus jobs out of Miss., Florida

When Mobile, Ala., was selected as the site for a $600 million Airbus manufacturing facility, there was optimism that South Mississippi could land a supplier or two.

The Alabama Senate’s Judiciary Committee on Tuesday made that less likely when members advanced legislation that would limit lawsuits against aircraft manufacturers and their suppliers. The bill would establish a 12-year window on litigation related to aircraft with more than 100 seats. The clock would start once the aircraft is delivered. Alabama law currently puts no such restriction on aircraft-related litigation. In Mississippi, there is a 20-year statute of repose, in which no litigation pertaining to an aircraft is allowed even if a design or other kind of defect leads to an injury or a fatality.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley told the Associated Press in that state that the legislation is specifically designed to keep Airbus suppliers out of Mississippi and Florida. Suppliers are estimated to create nearly 4,000 jobs.

The three states were part of an alliance that pursued the massive project a few years ago. The manufacturing facility, which will employ 1,000 at full production, is scheduled to start operation in 2015. Officials estimate it will produce between 40 and 50 aircraft per year by 2018.

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