Lawsuit puts Jacksonville aircraft order on hold

Contract followed Mayor Brown's visit to Brazil, meeting with U.S. Air Force

Published On: Dec 30 2011 05:28:09 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 05 2012 02:50:55 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The U.S. Air Force has put a contract that would bring 55 military aircraft construction jobs to Jacksonville on hold until a lawsuit from a losing bidder is settled.

Mayor Alvin Brown announced last week that the Pentagon had signed off on a deal for the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer to build its Super Tucano light attack turboprops in Jacksonville.

Brown said he and Gov. Rick Scott worked on the deal during development trip to Brazil two months ago, then Brown met with Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley in Washington last month to get the Pentagon's support of a $355 million deal with Sierra Nevada Corp. to have Embraer assemble the aircraft for U.S. military use.

Hawker Beechcraft has sued after the contract was awarded, claiming it was wrongly exluded from the bidding. The Air Force says it expects to win the litigation, but has put all work on the project on hold until the case is settled.

Embraer has committed to assemble aircraft at a facility at Jacksonville International Airport. Brown says the project will initially create 50 high-wage jobs and represents millions of dollars in economic investment.