Highlights of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Conference 2016

By: Jennifer Ferrero

Over the next 20 years, Boeing and Airbus will build and deliver over 67,000 aircraft to worldwide customers. The strength behind this duopoly is powered by thousands of worldwide suppliers, and tens of thousands of skilled and professional employees with high quality standards. Their drive to build this volume of aircraft is based upon customer flight demand along with the retirement of past aircraft.

The deep dive into the key players and their big ideas in the world’s aerospace community happens each year at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) Conference which occurs each February in Lynnwood, WA.

The conference was attended by over 600 suit-wearing professionals including C-Suite executives from both Washington state and worldwide suppliers from the world’s top aerospace companies – to include guests from 12 countries, such as Canada, France, Mexico, and India to name a few.

The ongoing success of this conference, according to participants, is the quality of the speakers and the caliber and relevancy of their talks. Journalists from publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Geek Wire are furiously consuming the forecasted growth trends and the impact to U.S. jobs and technology, along with supplier insights.

A good portion of the crowd come from the supplier base that is represented in the hundreds at this conference who wonder how trends such as lower barrel costs for oil/gas, as well as new trends in large format 3D printing and use of composite materials will impact their business.

Business is done with supplier development and networking with vendor groups such as the Inland NW Aerospace Alliance, economic development and departments of commerce, apprenticeship groups, airport systems, airlines, community and aviation-based colleges and bankers, accountants, and more. It seems that there is a role for everyone at the annual conference.

Naturally, Boeing and Airbus presented regarding their goals and forecasts. Overall, business continues to be strong and revenue is in the billions for each of the competing companies. The aerospace industry continues to offer the best quality and highest capacity, and a prodigious volume of employees, for any industry – especially in Washington state.

That said, the demand for aerospace workers for all levels of work continues with unparalleled strength in all markets. Training programs at Washington’s community and technical colleges in precision machining, composites, engineering design, aviation maintenance, mechatronics and most recently UAS programming is preparing our students to meet industry needs.

According to the conference speakers, demand exists for hiring aerospace and advanced manufacturing skills sets now, and for the next 20 years, at least as orders are booked for that term.

Beyond the large aircraft corporations, other key high volume aircraft makers were in attendance, such as Bombardier, Embraer and Mitsubishi. Multi-ton machine manufacturer Electroimpact presented regarding the autonomous nature of the assembly line machinery they build while highlighting the need for skilled engineers; noting that they have up to 200 engineers on a project at any time!

For those interested in creative pursuits with a focus on architecture, engineering and 3D printing, expect to see more jobs in the creation of aircraft, with printed parts, in elaborate curved, shaped and honeycomb designs that use a portion of the raw materials being used today.

For aerospace related jobs, check out the jobs on our website. For more information about joining this illustrious career, order one of our Career Guides to find out how to obtain short-term certifications and degrees right here in Washington.

See you at the next PNAA conference in February 2017!