9 MAY 2016


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Article from BTNews 9 MAY 2016

COMMENT: Boeing speaking softly

US president Theodore Roosevelt had a phrase to describe his foreign policy. It was “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Some of that seems to have rubbed off on Boeing. Considering 2016 is its 100th anniversary of being in business, it has so far been speaking very softly indeed.

Compared to some, that could be seen as a relief. But we media types who accepted an invitation to help the company to celebrate its big birthday landmark were surprised to be told there would be no press announcements; the gathering, at the trendy London Edition hotel, was “a drink with a few friends”.

That of course did not stop BTN doing a little digging and unearthing the fact that Boeing is likely to have more to say at Farnborough and the Royal International Air Tattoo later in the year. The centenary is also being marked with a Boeing-supported exhibition for young people this summer. Called “Above and Beyond” and subtitled “The Ultimate Flight Exhibition”, it opens at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, on 27 May and runs until 29 August. 

In case you can’t wait, some statistics have emerged from background material Boeing is preparing. For instance, every B787 Dreamliner with Rolls-Royce engines is 25% by value made by UK companies. Thirteen UK airlines operate more than 250 Boeing aircraft, which is 35% of the UK fleet. And Boeing spent £1.8bn with the UK supply chain last year, up from £1.4bn in 2014.

If this is the quiet stuff, we shall look forward to the noisy bits.

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

John Davidson, Paris, France

If you look back to the early years of Boeing's development of the Dreamliner, you'll see that most of the emphasis was around the "Boeing France Team", with participants such as Dassault Systèmes, Safran, and several others. In the same vein, if you look back to the early years of the A380, you'll see that US participation on that aircraft (depending on the airline's choice of engine — a GE with Safran) you will find that US suppliers, many based in the Toulouse area, accounted for more than half of the total plane. Which means that its four major shareholders (Britain for the wings, Germany for the fuselage, Spain for the end-tails and France for the cockpit) were splitting up about 50% of the total value, if that. So the A380 can be considered to be a more American aircraft. This information was supplied to me by the German woman who was responsible for senior media relations. And she was really promoting this American content. When I told Philippe Camus (at the time, co-CEO of EADS) about this, he shot back at me, "And so what is the European content on Boeing aircraft?" A question that I couldn't answer.