Yesterday we opined that the Boeing “exodus” from Washington State is a tad overblown so far. Here’s why we think so.
- As long as the airplane programs are derivatives of in-production aircraft, Puget Sound’s place in aerospace is solid. We don’t think the 777X will be assembled anywhere but here, just as MAX–a derivative of the 737 NG–was certain to be assembled here (and it was). The debate, such as it was, over where to assemble the MAX was in our view nothing more than making the airplane a pawn in the labor dispute with IAM 751 and the NLRB lawsuit over the second 787 assembly line. IAM dropped the suit in exchange for the MAX. Or so it appeared.
- So what if the 787-10 is assembled in South Carolina? Boeing has to take production to 14 a month, in our view, in order to accommodate the 787-10 and to open up delivery slots for the 787-9 and 787-8. We think this means seven 787s a month at Everett and seven at Charleston.
- Demand for the 737NG and 737 MAX is such that Boeing has to take production rates higher. The Renton factory has the capacity for 63/mo.
- Demand for the KC-46A tanker may boost rates on the 767 line. Also, as we previously reported, Market Intelligence tells us FedEx is preparing to order the civilian freighter version of the KC-46A, the 767-2C. This also means higher rates.
- In fact, our Market Intelligence tells us Boeing is already reaching out to the supply chain to plan on production boosts for the 737, 767 and 787 lines.
Source: Leeham Co. Market Intelligence. 777 and 747 rates not included.
Will Boeing continue to shift jobs from unionized Washington to non-union states? You betcha. But if these production rates come to pass (and the supply chain will have to gear up to meet these rates), not only will Boeing be adding jobs but so will the suppliers.
Airbus is talking to suppliers about similar rate hikes. For Washington, this means more jobs, to0, because our state is the No. 2 US supplier to Airbus by company count.
The Seattle Times reports that Airbus may consider opening an engineering center in Washington.
Note the comment about the USAF tanker in the story. We asked Gov. Jay Inslee about his relationship with Airbus during a conference call Wednesday, the final one held by the State to recap its daily activities at the Paris Air Show. Inslee bowed out of the trip to deal with Washington’s lack of a budget.
When he was in Congress, Inslee was one of the most vociferous opponents of the Airbus/EADS bid for the USAF tanker in competition with the Boeing KC-767. Inslee introduced legislation to require the Air Force to take into account WTO findings that Airbus received illegal subsidies for the A330, the plane on which its tanker design was based. Even the US Trade Representative’s office said such legislation violated WTO rules and the effort went nowhere.
Inslee’s efforts at the time offended Airbus officials, who were considering holding a suppliers fair in Washington, which is the No. 2 US supplier to Airbus. Because of the vitriolic opposition by Inslee and other members of the Washington delegation, Airbus shelved consideration of the fair.
We asked Inslee Wednesday how he might mend fences now that he is governor, seeking to expand our supply chain business with Airbus. Inslee was beginning to answer when US Rep. Rick Larson, who was leading the State’s Paris Air Show delegation in Inslee’s absence, interrupted to say he had talked with McArtor, who said the tanker wars were over.
Airbus has a suppliers event scheduled here next month.