Boeing, Going, Gone

Don’t cry over the Dreamliner, says one business guru.

By Eric Scigliano December 11, 2009 Published in the January 2010 issue of Seattle Met

THE NEWS LAST fall that Boeing would build its second 787 Dreamliner line in South Carolina sent a pall over Puget Sound. But San Juan Island–based futurist Mark Anderson says we should prepare to bid our homegrown jet maker a fond adieu. And when Anderson talks, tycoons listen: As founder and CEO of Strategic News Service, a pioneering -e-newsletter for tech-biz players and investors, he’s racked up a reputation for prescience. He predicted the 2008 financial crisis (in February 2007) and the March 2009 market bottom.

As for the big B, says Anderson, “I think Boeing has seen its day”—not just here, but in the jet biz generally. The reason isn’t the notorious production delays that made the Dreamliner a Dream Later. Nor, strictly speaking, competition from Airbus, Boeing’s longtime European rival. It’s China, by far the world’s largest jet market, which last summer announced it would build a (doubtless much cheaper) competitor to Boeing’s staple 737.

The problem, says Anderson, is that Boeing broke its own “cardinal rule—that you do not take the crown jewels of intellectual property and give them to another country.” But Airbus blithely transferred key technology to China in order to get cheap production there, and Boeing felt forced to follow suit.

“It’s a matter of time,” says Anderson: Airplane manufacture will “taper off”—here and in South Carolina. “It’s probably good for the Northwest to be weaned off it. Boeing is not going to be a reliable partner. We can’t rely on airplanes. We’re going to have to look to other areas—wireless, IT, biomed, biotech, clean energy. Wine. Apples.”

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