EVERETT — The largest-ever Washington state delegation this week will attend the Paris Air Show, the world’s most prestigious aviation trade fair.
More than 80 attendees, including a Snohomish County delegation of elected officials, hope to drum up business for Washington’s aerospace industry. The aerospace sector here generates $70 billion in annual revenue and employs more than 135,000 workers at 1,400 companies, according to the state Department of Commerce.
Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib and Lisa Brown, director of the Washington Department of Commerce, will lead the delegation.
Famous for aircraft displays and demonstration flights, the trade show also showcases satellites, production methods and telecommunications. The event begins Monday and runs through Sunday.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, will lead a separate House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee delegation.
It’s important for elected officials to attend the air show and let aerospace companies know that “elected officials are on their side,” said Robin Toth, head of the governor’s Office of Aerospace. “For example, they can assist with properties and streamline the permitting process.”
Snohomish County, home to Boeing’s main wide-body aircraft assembly plant and 40,000 aerospace jobs, will be well represented.
Snohomish County Councilman Terry Ryan, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin and Paine Field airport director Arif Ghouse will join the trade mission for all or part of the air show.
“Since aerospace is the most important industry in Snohomish County, the county is represented at the major international air shows each year. … Snohomish County is paying for (County Council) chair Ryan’s trip and Paine Field is paying for Arif’s,” county spokesman Kent Patton said in an email.
Said Ryan: “It’s important that we retain the business we have, encourage them to expand and also attract additional suppliers and aerospace businesses to the county.”
Everett Mayor Franklin said she expects to meet with dozens of aerospace firms at the Paris Air Show in an effort to support “our existing businesses and hopefully encourage new companies to locate here.”
Manufacturing makes up 20% of the county’s workforce — twice the state average, Franklin noted.
Last year, the manufacturing sector provided more than $17.2 million in sales tax and business-and-occupation tax revenue to the city of Everett, spokesman Julio Cortes said in an email.
Overall, Everett’s aerospace sector is a significant source of city revenue. Everett is covering the costs related to the air show for Franklin and Dan Eernissee, the city economic development director, Cortes said. “They are using their own personal funds to cover the costs of any personal activities during their time in France,” Cortes said.
In 2017, the air show, which is held every other year, drew delegations from 98 countries and more than 322,000 visitors. The first four days are usually reserved for business, with the final three days open to the public.
The state delegation has grown in recent years, from about 50 in 2015 to 63 in 2017.
This year’s delegation also includes a long list of private employers from around the state, including Everett-based Aviation Technical Services and SeaCast, based in Marysville. The local supply chain supports not only Boeing but foreign jet makers Airbus, Bombardier, Comac, Mitsubishi, Sukhoi and Embraer. (Boeing expects to acquire an 80% share of Embraer’s commercial aircraft division this year.)
Companies that were part of the state delegation to the 2015 Paris Air Show generated more than $125 million in business as a result, according to the state Commerce Department.
Lt. Gov. Habib will promote Washington business opportunities during a series of meetings with companies from around the world, including Mitsubishi, Boeing, Raytheon, Safran and Airbus. His travel and lodgings are paid by the lieutenant governor’s trade mission budget, said spokesman Mikhail Carpenter.
“We are looking forward to sharing the wealth of new opportunities we have here in Washington on the international stage,” Habib said in a statement.
Revised aero-economic report
The Washington delegation is bringing an updated version of the “Aerospace Competitive Economics Study,” which promoters of aerospace here use to demonstrate the state’s worth.
The 2018 report, a quantitative study based on numerical public and government data, ranked Washington state first for aerospace manufacturing, followed by Texas, Georgia, Arizona and Colorado.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751 and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace commissioned the Teal Group and Olympic Analytics to update the study for use by the unions and state government. Richard Aboulafia, a prominent aerospace analyst and vice president of the Teal Group of Fairfax, Virginia, prepared the report.
The 2019 update again ranks Washington above all other states, but there were changes in the rest of the top four. They are now Ohio, Utah, North Carolina and Arizona.
Last year’s report was intended to help convince Boeing to build its next passenger airplane model — the “new middle-market” airplane, hence NMA — in Washington. Choose Washington NMA, a coalition of elected officials, businesses and unions created by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, was anticipating a big reveal at the 2019 Paris Air Show.
But that was before two Boeing 737 Max crashes, just five months apart, in Indonesia and Ethiopia. In all, 346 people died. Boeing faces multiple government probes and a criminal investigation into the design and certification of the Max, which is built in Renton. The 737 Max has been grounded since mid-March and isn’t expected to resume service for months.
Many aviation analysts say it’s unlikely that Boeing will make an announcement about the major new middle-market aircraft, unofficially dubbed the 797, at the Paris Air Show.
A Boeing board of directors “authority to offer” is needed before the company can reveal a proposed new airplane and gauge airline demand. That authority had been expected in time for the Paris Air Show before the Max crashes, said Scott Hamilton, a Bainbridge Island-based aviation analyst. Now it isn’t expected until toward the end of the year, after the Max returns to service.
Choose Washington and others have shifted their focus from the 797 to broader promotion of the state’s aerospace sector.
After months of bad press coverage due to the 737 Max crisis, Boeing has modest plans for Paris. It will showcase “innovation, partnerships and safety” at this year’s air show, the company said in a statement.
An Air Tahiti Nui 787-9 “will demonstrate the breakthrough capabilities and innovations that have made the 787 a favorite. A 737 Boeing converted freighter and passenger air vehicle will be on static display,” Boeing said.
The U.S. Department of Defense also will display several Boeing aircraft, including the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, the CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter, the F-15 fighter, the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and the Everett-built KC-46 Pegasus tanker, the company said.
At a Washington, D.C., event last week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that “the U.S. aerospace sector has the largest trade surplus of any other American manufacturing industry, at $88 billion last year. And, of total U.S. aerospace production last year of $215 billion, a very large portion of that output — $150 billion — or 70% , was exported. We are the largest exporter of aerospace equipment in the world.”
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods.
• Aerostrat, Seattle
• Aviation Technical Services, Everett
• BRPH, Lynnwood
• General Plastics Manufacturing, Tacoma
• Industrial Machine Tool, Anacortes
• Pacific Tool, Redmond
• SeaCast, Marysville
• Silicon Forest Electronics, Vancouver, Washington
• Stack Metallurgical Group, Spokane Valley