Boeing chairman, president and CEO Dennis Muilenburg praised US President Donald Trump at the US Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit in Washington DC March 2, describing him as “very much engaged with industry … [with] a great curiosity and a great affinity for airplanes and aerospace.”

Muilenburg hosted the president Feb. 17 at Boeing’s North Charleston, SC plant for the rollout of the new 787-10.

“The fact that we’re having this open dialogue, and business has a voice at the table, and he’s taking on things that are going to make it better for business and economic growth—things like tax reform, regulatory reform and trade policy—these are all things that are going to be good for business,” Muilenburg said. “Being able to have that open dialogue [with] somebody who listens and engages—I think it was a very good opportunity. So we’re encouraged by that. And it was also a chance to show the value of aerospace on some of [his] economic initiatives.”

“With the new administration coming onboard some of the opportunities to make the right political decisions—things like tax reform, trade policy, things that will enable aerospace growth—those are really important things to do,” Muilenburg said. “[With] engagement by all of us to get a few really important things done that allow us to invest in aerospace, to grow jobs, we have a window to do that.”

Muilenburg also discussed the president’s opinion on Air Force One: “We have had a few conversations about Air Force One, including the current jet as well as the next generation Air Force One. Those have been very productive conversations. What I like is his direct engagement on the new Air Force One—talking about how we streamline requirements and certification, to get a better airplane, get it sooner, and to get it at lower cost.”

“[These are] all good objectives,” Muilenburg said. “In fact it aligns with what we are trying to do more broadly and regulatory reform and how do we leverage things like commercial certification for military jets. I think that’s a great example of how we can drive efficiency and drive more economic growth.”

Additionally, Muilenburg offered an assessment on Boeing’s investment in overseas manufacturing, particularly in China.

“Just as we invest in jobs here in the US, we invest around the world to create sustainable presence in depth and that’s what I like to think of as a model of sustainable, value-added smart globalization,” Muilenburg said. “It’s the kind of investment that allows us to grow in the world while we grow here.”

“In China we’re standing up the 737 finishing center and what that will do is take delivery of airplanes from our US manufacturing lines and then outfit them in final form for seats and paint for our Chinese customers,” Muilenburg said. “Now that’s value-added presence and depth in China. [And] it’s value-added depth here in the US and its part of what fuels our 737 production line and it’s a way for us to add job and grow around the world. That’s the kind of smart, sustainable globalization we like to think of. Globalization is not about moving jobs out of the US, it’s about making the right smart investment so we can grow jobs around the world.”

“I think that kind of relationship with China, with a trade policy that supports it, is one that enables mutual growth. It’s good. It’s good for all of us,” Muilenburg said. “[If] we take a look at the future of the commercial airplane market over the next 20 years, we believe the world will need north of 39,000 new commercial airplanes. Around 6,800 of those are in China. It’s a very important market for the future and growing in China and sustaining the aerospace industry in China also allows us to grow jobs and add jobs in the US. It’s one of the reasons we’re ramping up our 737 production line.”

Mark Nensel