PNAA CEO Melanie Jordan emcees the opening of the Competitive Edge conference.
Lynnwood, Washington – The 16th annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) is underway, focusing on global developments and regional concerns of the aerospace supply chain. PNAA’s primary membership area – the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, and Canadian provinces British Columbia and Alberta – hosts 800 aerospace suppliers.
PNAA Chairman Ted Croft, Pyrotek Aerospace, welcomed more than 600 attendees to the first day of the three-day event, organized under the theme of implementing technology and innovation to help participants achieve a competitive edge.
To encourage future business relationships, the PNAA event features a B2B suppliers fair that offers formal opportunities for participants to meet with representatives of OEMs and larger tier suppliers. A newly expanded trade show offers further networking opportunities and a showcase for products and services that range from local providers to internationally known brands. International participation is at an all-time high, including representation from more than 20 businesses and agencies from northern Germany’s Niedersachsen aerospace cluster.
Speakers at the Seattle-area conference’s first day included Dr. Kevin Michaels, president, AeroDynamic Advisory, who shared his views on major commercial aircraft producers’ future revenue growth and global economic pressures facing suppliers. “The next decade will be about productivity,” Michaels says, with most of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) seeking profits from the huge backlog of single-aisle aircraft. He adds that suppliers will be faced with increasing pressures to keep costs down, with consolidation of smaller tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers a continuing trend.
Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes and a 30+-year industry veteran, updated the company’s 20-year and near-term market outlook. Boeing analysts still foresee the world airliner fleet doubling from 22,000 to 44,000 aircraft long-term, demand primarily driven by low-cost carriers. Tinseth expects Boeing, coming off a record year in 2016, will see 2017 “almost as good.”
A global issues panel moderated by Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis for Teal Group, grappled with the economic and geopolitical implications of Brexit and trade policies advocated by the Trump administration. On taxes, trade, and tariffs, the consensus was that industry will put off major decisions until policy decisions are clearer. Panel participants, representing government and economic perspectives, were optimistic that U.K. and U.S. politicians’ practicality would prevail over campaign rhetoric.
The first day of the conference concluded with corporate representatives’ reports on the Mitsubishi MRJ and Embraer regional jets. Mitsubishi now has three MRJ airplanes in flight testing in the U.S. and a Nagoya, Japan facility ready for production. Embraer expects to have the first member of its three sizes of E-jets E2 aircraft – the E190 E2 – enter service in 2018. The company currently has firm orders for 275 E2 models.
The agenda for day two of the conference includes presentations on aerostructures, additive manufacturing, and market mega trends.