EVERETT — State officials say Washington companies could land upwards of $200 million in new business out of the Paris Air Show.
Washington sent its biggest delegation — made up of about 60 public officials and company representatives — to the aerospace industry’s marquee trade event.
Few details have filtered out about the deals being hammered out as a result of conversations begun at the show. Among the wins, one company got a procurement contract with Lockheed Martin on the air show’s first day. Another company is close to landing a deal worth $3 million with a major aerospace company, according to officials with the state’s Department of Commerce.
Premium Aerotec, an Airbus subsidiary, announced plans to open an office in Seattle. Several companies expressed interest in investing in Washington’s growing commercial space sector, Commerce officials said.
None of the Washington-based suppliers that attended the show have announced any deals. Converting conversations into contracts can be a long process, and some of the deals may take as long as 18 months to finalize.
The Boeing Co. made the biggest splash at the Paris Air Show, when it launched its biggest 737, the MAX 10. The company announced a flurry of new airplane orders, topping its rival, Airbus.
For the first time, the state delegation visited Airbus’ factory in Toulouse. The state has invited representatives from the European airplane maker to visit aerospace companies in Washington, said Brian Bonlender, secretary of the commerce department. He added that he does not know if they have accepted yet.
In 2015, businesses that attended the biennial air show as part of the state delegation reported about $125 million in new business.
Washington’s skilled workforce is the primary reason companies are interested in expanding here, said Bonlender and Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., who traveled to Paris as part of the state delegation.
Despite its legions of highly-trained workers, the area’s aerospace industry is in a “pretty fierce competition” for work with companies around the world, Larsen said.
That fact was underscored at the air show, he said.
China’s growing aerospace industry had its biggest presence yet, he said. “I would expect that to grow over time.”
The show also highlighted the growing role and capabilities of additive manufacturing. In traditional manufacturing, machines cut a block of metal down into a functional part. In additive manufacturing, which includes 3D printing, machines build a part by adding layer upon layer of material. The implications in terms of new designs, greater efficiency and other aspects are only beginning to be felt in the aerospace industry.
The effects, no doubt, will be deep and far-reaching, Larsen said. “It’s a trend we need to grab onto and make part of American manufacturing.”
The Pacific Northwest’s education and training systems have to be flexible and nimble enough to ensure workers here will still be in demand in coming decades, he said.
Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dcatchpole.
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