The governor’s council set up to win Boeing’s proposed 797 for Washington state has commissioned industry analyst Richard Aboulafia to do a competitive analysis for an objective view of Washington’s strengths and to suggest areas the state could work on to improve its chances.
The governor’s council set up to win Boeing’s proposed next new airplane for Washington state has commissioned well-known aerospace-industry analyst Richard Aboulafia to do a $55,000 analysis of the state’s competitiveness.
“We need to know what makes our state strong, and where we need to get stronger,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “This independent analysis by some of the most credible experts in the world will help us do exactly that.”
Boeing is still pondering the business case for launching a jet it refers to as the New Mid-Market Airplane (NMA), informally dubbed the 797 by outsiders — a plane larger than the single-aisle 737 and smaller than the 787 Dreamliner widebody.
A launch decision is expected by early next year, and as part of the business case Boeing is already weighing how and where it will be built.
The competitiveness study is the first public move by the NMA Council, a coalition of business, labor unions, state government departments, educational and training institutions and economic-development officials set up by Inslee to encourage Boeing to place the work here.
The cost of the study will eventually be shared by all the participants in the council — both public and private.
“We’ll all be contributing to this and other expenses,” said Brian Bonlender, director of the state Department of Commerce, though details haven’t been worked out yet.
In the meantime, the two Boeing unions — the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) — are picking up the initial tab for Aboulafia’s study, which is scheduled to be completed by April.
Jon Holden, IAM District 751 President called Aboulafia “the gold standard of the aerospace-industry analysts.”
The state has done successive competitiveness studies for previous new Boeing airplanes, including for the 737 MAX in 2011 and for the 777X in 2013.
Kelly Maloney, chief executive of the Aerospace Futures Alliance, a state lobbying group for the industry, said Boeing’s construction of a new composite- wing facility in Everett for the 777X is a significant new advantage for the state that didn’t exist at the time of the last study.
In a conference call with the media, Aboulafia, vice president of the Teal Group consulting firm, declared himself “cautiously optimistic” that Washington could build the 797, but said “there are areas where things can be improved to enhance the bid.”
“I’m looking forward to finding ways to be proactive and make it happen,” he said.