Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the launch of a statewide effort to make sure the Boeing 777X is built in Washington, a project which the Governor said would preserve and grow thousands of aerospace jobs in the state for the next generation.
Making the announcement at the Future of Flight Aviation Center, Gov. Inslee also unveiled an “Aerospace Industry Strategy” to grow the state’s aerospace cluster and improve the business climate for aerospace companies.
The plan calls for certain actions to be taken over the next few months to demonstrate why Washington is the best choice for the 777X.
This includes a survey of industry leaders to find out what the state can do to improve its competitiveness, and an economic impact analysis to demonstrate the benefits that incentives provided to win the project would create.
Changes will be made to improve the state’s business climate, including a review of existing aerospace incentives. In 2003, the state approved $3 billion in tax breaks for Boeing (NYSE:BA) over two decades to secure the first 787 assembly line. That 20-year period expires in 2024, but 777X production would continue well beyond that. The state may therefore approve an extension of these incentives as part of a new and broader incentives package.
A special emphasis is being placed on securing the new assembly plant that will be required for the 777X’s carbon fiber wings, which have a massive wingspan of 233 feet – bigger than any plane Boeing currently has in production or plans to build. The proposed design also calls for the wingtips to fold in order to reduce space required at airports.
The location of this hi-tech carbon fiber wing assembly plant would have to be close to the main 777X assembly plant. This means that any site which looks most suited to design and assemble the wing assembly will get the entire plane too.
One of Washington’s main competitors for this project would be South Carolina, which successfully wrested Boeing’s second 787 assembly line from Washington. South Carolina last month approved $120 million in incentives for a $1 billion expansion at Boeing’s North Charleston facility that would create 2,000 new jobs, of which more than 1,000 are engineering and production jobs.
Apart from growing the aerospace cluster and making regulatory changes to make it easier for aerospace companies to do business, Washington’s newly unveiled Aerospace Industry Strategy also focuses on infrastructure improvements and workforce training.
Bob Drewel, president of the Washington Aerospace Partnership which will be working with the state to implement all this, said that the 777X was hugely important to the aerospace industry in Washington.
Drewel said it would preserve the thousands of jobs of people currently working on assembly of the 777 in Everett and with suppliers spread all over the state, and ensure that machinists and engineers in Washington will be working on cutting-edge aviation technology for many decades to come.
Read Washington’s full Aerospace Industry Strategy – Download (pdf)