By Staff Writer | July 1, 2008
PRODUCTS | AIRFRAMES
That question is on the mind of some analysts after a discussion at a recent Boeing briefing for investors and financial analysts.
Asked whether Boeing is considering selling its helicopter business before the military market on which it depends starts to decline, Jim Albaugh surprised some with his answer. He is president and CEO of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, which includes Boeing’s Rotorcraft Div.
Noting that Boeing sold its commercial business in the mid-1990s "after about 10 years of losing money" under a deal that included a 10-year non-compete clause, Albaugh said Eurocopter "was a formidable competitor and, in our view, Bell had the global reach and the supply chain that probably we didn’t have." He said that, while Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook and AH-64 Apache, as well as the V-22 Osprey it builds with Bell Helicopter, don’t lend themselves to commercial adaptation, military demand for them is strong.
Any rumors that Boeing is interested in selling the rotorcraft line "are not true," Albaugh added.
Pressed by an analyst as to why Boeing doesn’t then leverage its helicopter expertise to take advantage of the current and projected strength of the commercial market, Albaugh replied, "Well, certainly, when we go through our strategic planning process, those are things that we revisit, and as this 10-year non-compete comes to an end, it’s probably time to really look at that hard."