June 22, 2011 in City

Aerospace summit set for Seattle

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Seattle will be the site of a summit for aerospace manufacturers and suppliers next March and a Bellingham company will expand to reconfigure planes for an Austrian airline, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday.

Deals for both were struck during the second day of the Paris Air Show, which Gregoire is attending to boost the chances of selling more Boeing planes and the products of some 650 aerospace manufacturers and suppliers in Washington.

The March 12-13 summit, to be hosted by Boeing and the state Commerce Department, is expected to draw about 600 businesses and be the first of its kind in North America, Gregoire said in a telephone press conference.

Boeing reported sales of nearly $4.3 billion Tuesday, a total of 33 jets to airlines in Malaysia, Norway and Russia.

“All in all, it was a pretty good day for us,” she said.

The governor defended the 10-day trip out of the state — she stopped in Spain before Paris to talk with the company that will dig the tunnel for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement in Seattle, and will travel to Hamburg to talk with BMW and other companies making carbon-fiber parts at a new Moses Lake facility — as worth the $40,000 price tag for herself, two staff members and three representatives of the Commerce Department.

“I’m here promoting our state,” she said. “We are not going to come out of this recession with me sitting in my office.”

She didn’t attend the last Paris Air Show in 2009, “and I took criticism for not going.”

That year, Alabama and other southern states vying for Airbus factories and a new Air Force tanker sent a delegation of 100 people to Paris. Boeing, meanwhile was deciding whether to open a new assembly line for its 787 in Washington or South Carolina.

Scott Hamilton, an aerospace industry analyst, criticized the state for not doing enough to preserve its aerospace industry: “The fact that the governor did not promote Boeing at the Paris Air Show is scandalous,” Hamilton said shortly after the air show closed.

As it turned out, Boeing did open a second assembly line in South Carolina, but Alabama and the other Southern states lost out on the tanker contract. That went to Boeing, which will assemble those planes in Everett.

While in Paris, Gregoire is lobbying executives from Boeing to build any expansion of the company’s 737 jetliner production in Washington.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email