It has been a period of positive news for the local aerospace industry. There was the news that the 737 MAX was going to be built in the state and Boeing announcing its largest order in both dollar value and number of airplanes by Southwest Airlines. The airline ordered 208 737’s, which includes 150 of the new 737 MAX planes. Down in Renton, Boeing recently organized a celebration for employees for reaching a production rate milestone – 35 jets every 20 work days. That marks a significant increase from 14 per month back in 2003, and major increases are still expected over the next few years to meet demand for the new jets. Scheduled rate increases are expected to bring production up to 38 jets per month by 2013 and to 42 by 2014.
At the state level, three bills were passed during the end of 2011 special session to support the industry. These bills focused on the aerospace industry’s education and training needs and will better prepare Washington’s young people to be the next generation of aerospace workers and engineers. The Washington Aerospace Partnership, which works to support and grow the aerospace cluster in Washington State, will be seeking additional legislation in 2012. Find out more here.
Local company Alaska Airlines topped the Wall Street Journal’s Middle Seat scorecard this year. The Middle Seat scorecard ranks major carriers each year on a number of key measures important to travelers: on-time arrivals, long delays, canceled flights, mishandled bags, passengers bumped from flights and complaints filed with the Department of Transportation.
There are also a number of aerospace conferences coming up in the region for those interested. The 2012 Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) Aerospace Conference will be held from February 6-8 at the Lynnwood Convention Center. The Aerospace & Defense Supplier Summit will be held from March 12-15 at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center.