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Creating Jobs: “Plane” and Simple

February 7, 2012

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Kim Wells is a senior international trade specialist in the Office of Aerospace, with 19 years’ experience supporting aerospace exports.

Most people think of planes as a way of connecting people with destinations.  In the International Trade Administration (ITA), we know that just one plane connects thousands of workers here at home.

As with most exports of large, high-tech products, the export of one aircraft (or ship, or large piece of machinery) is the result of a huge supply chain that touches people and communities across the United States.

For example, in November 2011, Emirates Airlines signed an agreement to purchase 50 new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with options for 20 more, totaling $26 billion at list prices.  Each 777 will be equipped with two American-made GE90 engines. Though the names on the plane may be “Boeing” and “GE”, the truth is that each aircraft is a finely integrated system of nearly four million parts from more than 11,000 suppliers specializing in everything from lighting to advanced avionics and seatback trays to landing gear. As a result, this single sale will support over 100,000 U.S. jobs in more than a dozen states.

These jobs are the kind of jobs the United States is seeking—high technology, high wage, and high skilled.  And with each of these jobs, thousands of other indirect jobs are created that support the work and lives of these employees.  In fact, the aerospace and defense industry employed over 818,000 people in the United States in 2009 and supported an additional 1.8 million U.S. jobs in related fields.

The U.S. aerospace industry has the highest trade surplus of any U.S. manufacturing industry and supports more jobs through exports than any other manufacturing industry.  At ITA, we know that U.S. firms—whether they make large planes or business jets, helicopters or aircraft engines—can produce products at home that will beat the competition overseas as long as they compete on a level playing field.  That’s why aerospace is an important export industry that will help achieve the goals of President Obama’s National Export InitiativeITA’s Aerospace Team is working hard to identify and create new export opportunities, break down barriers in foreign markets and ensure that level playing field for our manufacturers in order to create and secure aerospace industry jobs here in the United States.

So, is selling an airplane overseas good for the country and for American jobs?

Yes–“plane” and simple.

One comment

  1. Great commentary. I am employed by a small thermoplastic sheet manufacturer in central Pennsylvania. Our export sales are largely driven by aerospace and are the engine behind our continuing growth and constant state of hiring new employees. We export our materials to Europe, eastern Europe, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia….and our material is converted into interior components. It’s a great growth industry where American-made products are the drivers in innovation and quality. Proud to say, “made in USA – sold everywhere.” Good to see someone recognizing it!



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