Aero suppliers urged to look beyond Boeing

LYNNWOOD — Boeing has decided to build the new 777X airplane, including its advanced wing, in Washington, but the state’s aerospace industry can’t get complacent and needs to attract more work from other manufacturers, industry analysts said Thursday at an aviation conference.

“The history here in Washington state is that every time we win a project from Boeing, we get complacent, and we can’t have complacency again,” said Scott Hamilton, an analyst with Issaquah-based Leeham Co.

“We still need to look behind Boeing, and we still in my view need to look beyond brick-and-mortar type of aerospace as well,” he said.

For example, as air travel continues to grow, a pilot shortage is expected in coming years, and Washington should develop world-class training programs, Hamilton said.

In terms of more traditional aerospace manufacturing, the state’s industry needs to pursue work with other major airplane makers, such as Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer.

Representatives from those three companies and Boeing all spoke at the three-day conference, annually hosted by the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance at the Lynnwood Convention Center.

The Airbus representatives said they couldn’t comment on the potential for new suppliers from the Pacific Northwest.

But Airbus Americas officials have previously said they plan to do more work with U.S. suppliers. Among the states, Washington already does the second-most business with the company, with about $200 million in purchases a year.

Like Boeing, the company has pushed suppliers to cut costs, said Daniel Wenninger, an executive with the Airbus A350 XWB program in the U.S.

Representatives from three of the aerospace industry’s big jet engine makers — Rolls-Royce, GE Aviation and Pratt &Whitney — discussed their companies’ respective programs.

Bob Saia, a vice president with Pratt &Whitney, said that while the three companies might be pursuing different technological innovations, engine buyers in the end all want the same thing: more powerful, lighter-weight and more-efficient engines.

East Hartford, Conn.-based Pratt &Whitney is focused on refining its engines, which are built for narrow-body and smaller aircraft, and in the near future will leave the wide-body market to GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce, he said.

The company still plans to certify its PW11000G engine for the Airbus A320neo later this year, Saia said.

The fight for the wide-body market has been fierce and will likely increase in the next decade, said Jason Brewer, general manager of GE Engines marketing.

Engine makers can’t bet their company on one technology but have to be ready to deliver the right combination of technology available to meet demand, said Bill Boyd, a senior vice president with Rolls-Royce.

Meantime, in Olympia on Thursday, Washington’s top economist, Steve Lerch, presented the latest forecast from the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, which projects a decline of about 7,000 aerospace jobs in the next few years.

The drop is due in part to the fact that Boeing is making airplanes more efficiently and isn’t replacing some retiring workers, Lerch said.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454;

More in Herald Business Journal

Glitches slow Boeing, SpaceX plans for human spaceflight

Boeing has an issue with its abort system that may cause the spacecraft to “tumble.”

Best foot forward: Ferndale company to make custom shoes easy

Long specializing in insoles, Superfeet is putting 3-D machines in stores to make customized shoes.

Planemaker joins forces with auto-industry supplier Adient

The new venture poses a threat to Zodiac Aerospace and Rockwell Collins

Alaska Airlines has selected destinations for new service from Paine Field. (Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Port of Everett CEO Les Reardanz has been called up and will be spending much of the year away from his office. He is going to Afghanistan. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Port of Everett CEO reporting for duty — in Afghanistan

Les Reardanz has been called to active duty with the Navy for an eight-month deployment.

Boeing opens new $17 million training center in Auburn

Workers and dignitaries marked the grand opening of the facility Monday.

Trump’s company fights efforts to shed the president’s name

“Our homes are worth more without the Trump name.”

Airbus floats shutdown of A380 superjumbo

The aircraft is so big that some airports had to expand runways to accommodate the 550-seat plane.

Does a hypersonic US reconnaissance plane already exist?

A Skunk Works executive speaks of the top secret aircraft as if it is already in operation.

Most Read