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Study: Washington is the most competitive in the country for engineering, manufacturing planes

Two of the largest unions in western Washington came together for a panel discussion to talk about work in aviation and how to ensure the state stays competitive.

WASHINGTON, USA — A new study by the company AeroDynamic Advisory said Washington has the most competitive business environment for the manufacture and assembly of aircraft.  

“Using identifiable and clearly-laid-out metrics. Everything from the cost of labor on a productivity basis to infrastructure and energy costs,” said Richard Aboulafia, the managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory. 

The 2022 Aerospace Competitive Economics Study (ACES) found that the state scored highest in labor and education, aerospace industry and research and innovation. 

“We want to make sure that it’s really clear that our workforce is second to none,” said John Holden, the president of Machinist Union District 751. 

The state has more than 78,000 aerospace workers. The International Association of Machinists and The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace say western Washington workers have the skills, labor and legacy that are the best in the county.

“We have more people training to be aerospace workers than other states actually have aerospace workers and that’s a critical piece moving forward. Who is going to fill these jobs in the next generation?” said Holden.

States such as Texas and Arizona are quickly gaining speed. It brings into question what the future of Washington aviation holds. 

“Decisions made now have really, really long-term consequences,” said panelist Ron Epstein, the managing director for Aerospace & Defense.

Boeing has said the company won’t introduce a new plane until at least the mid 2030’s, which is a concern for the workforce. 

"It’s catastrophic to the workforce and what’s even worse is that when CEO David Calhoun made that comment, it didn’t appear to take into account the risk of workforce atrophy,” said Aboulafia. 

With a loss in market shares and an aging workforce, this is one in a line of conversations to keep Washington No. 1.

The panel made it clear that the next few years will be telling for Washington’s future. In the ACES study, Washington scored lowest in infrastructure and labor costs.

Watch: Boeing celebrates final 747 delivery 


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