If there’s a market that breaks down geopolitical barriers, it’s the one for commercial jetliners. That Boeing announced Aeroflot as a 787 customer yesterday is particularly poignant given it was 20 years ago today that then-President Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenberg Gate and uttered "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" The wall came down, Germany was reunited and a new era in global cooperation began.
The Boeing announcement about Aeroflot was but two short sentences amounting to 27 words, but Boeing spokesman Mike Tull in London said Aeroflot ordered 22 787s. It’s been 10 years since Aeroflot put down its first order for Boeing jetliners – 10 737s. The 767s and DC-10 freighters on Aeroflot’s roster are leased, according to Tull. "We’re thrilled the 787 has been chosen." That brings 787 pre-launch orders up to a whopping 566. There will be many books written about the wildly successful launch of this aircraft which rolls out July 7 (7-8-7). Now it’s just got to fly.
Boeing’s Russia connection is well-established. It has maintained a Technical Center in Moscow since 1992 with 1,400 engineers and just announced in St. Petersburg an extensive R&D relationship with Russia’s United Aircraft Corp., under which a half dozen Russian aircraft firms have been consolidated. One of those is Sukhoi, a 58-year military plane manuafcturer which about to launch the Superjet regional jetliner. It’s slated to take its maiden voyage at around the same time as the 787 in September. Boeing is a close adviser to Sukhoi on the Superjet program. Russian firm VSMPO is also a huge provider of Titanium to Boeing. Just say this multi-faceted deal is a wonderful combination of Glasnost and business.
So next time you hear Putin and Bush squabbling over something like the missile defense shield which sounds like it could trigger a new Cold War, take it with a big grain of salt. The U.S. and Russia are too close with myriad common interests to be enemies anymore. I wonder if Mr Gorbahcev knew what president Reagan was going to say beforehand.