Boeing returns to PNAA

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 5, 2023, © Leeham News: Boeing and the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance have kissed and made up.

After a two-year boycott, Boeing returns this year as a sponsor to PNAA, a suppliers-oriented trade group, and to sponsor and provide speakers to its annual conference in February. Boeing abruptly withdrew from the organization and the conference in 2022, citing a sexual discrimination lawsuit that had been filed by one of its women employees against the then executive director, a male, and the male-dominated Board of Directors. However, PNAA’s staff was predominately women and women were represented on the Board. The lawsuit was settled for undisclosed terms.

Boeing’s stated reason for withdrawal was questioned by some familiar with the background. Additionally, there has long been an occasional tense relationship between PNAA and Boeing. Analysts and consultants who appeared as speakers or panelists long criticized Boeing for its Partnering for Success program, which some viewed as brow-beating suppliers into cutting prices.

Critical comments

The same panelists often criticized Boeing for its tense labor relations and product development, which had fallen behind Airbus’s aggressive strategy with its new engine option (neo) line of A320s and A330s. The critics included aerospace analyst Ron Epstein from Bank of America, consultants Michel Merluzeau, Richard Aboulafia, Kevin Michaels and this writer. There were occasional come-to-Jesus meetings after such conferences between Boeing and PNAA.

After Boeing boycotted PNAA’s 2022 conference at the last minute, suppliers attending that event commented in private in bewilderment at Boeing’s action. At the 2023 conference in February, Michaels, Aboulafia and Epstein ratcheted up their criticism at a small event hosted by the IAM 751—Boeing’s militant labor union–preceding the PNAA main event, and at the main event. Suppliers openly criticized Boeing’s absence.

Boeing is back

All apparently has been forgiven between the two. Boeing’s marketing chief, Darren Hulst, will present Boeing’s commercial view of the world and its products. Supply chain chief Ihssane Mounir will discuss Boeing’s supply chain issues. A private, invitation-only event this month is also sponsored by Boeing.

A spokesperson said Boeing is happy to have returned to work with PNAA and to present at the conference. PNAA’s executive director is out of the country and wasn’t available for comment.

Michaels, Aboulafia and Epstein return as speakers. Merluzeau isn’t a speaker and this writer hasn’t been invited back as a speaker for years.

Ironically, as of today, Airbus—which also has appeared at the conference for years—so far isn’t listed on the agenda.


17 Comments on “Boeing returns to PNAA

    • Agreed. I continue to hope (probably foolishly) that new new board structure is having an affect on Calhoun.

    • I agree its relevant. Some serious two faced statements that are right up there with the BOB (Best of Boeing)

      If a Hydrogen powered aircraft is mandated, then yea, you are going to have full government involvement because it won’t sell anywhere else and it won’t have the range to do what is done now.

      It does raise the ugly specter of Airbus just can’t divest itself from the governments involved no matter how successful they are.

      Is that a hint that an A321 re-wing is not enough?

      • Airbus produced wing parts, assembly and dressing all over for final shipment to the FAL’s. Could they choose without political pressure and just for profit it all would be made close to one EU and the Chinese FAL’s. Hence government support is needed to keep the status quo.

          • Actually I have and do just as I complain about any STATE subsidy to build a plant anywhere in the US.

            Its self defeating and only a boon to the Corporations.

            I have written my congress people but I am one voice in the wilderness.

            I have supported oil taxes as well as cruise ship taxes

  1. If by “militant” you meant “disciplined with integrity”…you are correct. Otherwise you are a petty linguist.

    • Capital does not like it when Labor is well-organized, and advocates for their joint interests- just as Capital does.

  2. I think the reason Boeing is back is the simple matter that they cannot stabilize their workforce. The line worker of today is hugely different than a few years ago, and the pre-pandemic work ethic, poor as it was, is vastly superior to today. They need to reestablish a pool of employee candidates with the skills but more importantly, the attitude to do things correctly. Reassociating themselves here gos a long way to reconnect to the local work force.

      • Scott C:

        Clearly I never worked at Boeing, but the unions I did work for had an odd aspect in that maybe 10-20% actually knew what they were doing and the rest just followed or were assisted by that sort of Petty Officer/NCO supervision.

        That said I don’t know how Boeing gets to where they need to be. Having seen various cultures, I have seen what toxic is and does and unless forced, there is no change, it just gets swept under the rug, excuses accepted.

        Its a tough slog even if you have the will. Its going to be interesting to see going forward of course.

        • Trans……

          Isnt it interesting that you are describing Paretos Law. 20% of your workers get 80% of the work done, Amazing.

          • I did not know it was a law (grin)

            But yea, some operations better than others but Unions not so much,

  3. Mounir works in supply chain now? When did that happen? Did he lateral over to that position?

    Belated congratulations to Christian Scherer at Airbus on his promotion from head of sales to CEO of Airbus Commercial. Well deserved.

    • Mounir was named some months ago and goes within Boeing’s routine of moving people around.

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