We just attended a two-day conference organized by the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, a major event in Seattle’s Puget Sound region.
Michele Dunlop of The Everett Herald wrote several stories; here are our impressions.
- Surprisingly, given the downturn in the economy, there were about 50 more attendees to the conference than last year. This speaks to the growing importance of this event and the desire on the part of suppliers to prepare for what all expect to be production cuts by Boeing.
- Although Boeing is now openly talking about a 10% production cut in 2010, two major suppliers at the conference we talked to believes this could happen in the second half of this year.
- Boeing on Tuesday at two separate investors’ conferences reaffirmed its schedule for first delivery of the 787 in 1Q10. One supplier we talked to at the PNAA conference believes first delivery will be later in the year than that.
- Airbus touted its US supply base at the conference. Washington State ranks #4 in terms of dollars spent in the US.
- Washington State and Snohomish County (Everett, where the wide-bodies are built) officials at the conference are considering strategies to keep Boeing’s next new airplane programs in Washington and Everett. Proceeding on the assumption that Boeing may try to relocate these to other states, the county economic development group in particular is concerned that Legislators don’t believe Boeing might pick up and move–that all discordant notes espoused by Boeing are just talk. (Our comment: the Legislators seem to have short memories; Washington barely retained the 787 assembly; Boeing officials have about had it with the unions.)
- Richard Branson’s tongue-lashing of Boeing and the unions was a topic of networking discussion. One Seattle newspaper reporter who covered the Branson threat to cease buying Boeing because of labor strife at the company believes the entire tirade was choreographed by Boeing and Branson to send a harsh message to the IAM, which struck the company for 57 days–delaying delivery of a Boeing 777 to Branson’s VAustralia airline.
- Teal Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia sticks to his prediction the Airbus A350 will enter service in 2015, two years later than Airbus plans. Airbus’ Simon Pickup sticks to Airbus’ guns about a 2013 EIS. He notes that this is seven years after launch of the program compared with the four or five years (depending on the starting date used) for the 787 program. Pickup notes that Airbus has a much more conservative (his word) production and flight test schedule than had been planned and is planned for the 787. We note that a full seven years would put the A350 EIS to December 2013, about six months later than the Airbus timeline graphic suggests. A major difference at this stage between Airbus and Boeing: Airbus plans a 15-month flight testing program; Boeing plans just eight months.
The PNAA event attracted participants from Spain and Japan and is no longer merely a regional conference. The organization’s web site is www.pnaa.net.