AIA and the Tweety Bird

Reacting to President-elect Donald Trump’s tweet Tuesday that the Boeing Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization project costs $4 billion and should be cancelled, Aerospace Industries Association president David Melcher said he’s not sure how industry should respond to such messages. “Well, this is a relatively new phenomenon,” Melcher told reporters after AIA’s year-end industry review. “I know the right answer is not going to be “tweet back.” Melcher said Boeing probably took the right tack, saying “‘here are the facts as we know them,’”—that the PAR is currently a $170 million project under which Boeing and the Air Force are defining what’s needed. “I don’t know where that $4 billion number came from. I don’t think Boeing knows,” Melcher said. “It came from somewhere. And that’s going to have to be addressed, I think, by the folks who are part of the transition team.” Broadly, Melcher said, “The President-elect is going to have to decide how he’s going to use that tool (Twitter), going forward.” As for the AIA, “Our job is to speak as the collective voice of all our companies” on issues important across the industry, “and not to try to respond or react to today’s tweet or tomorrow’s tweet.” Pressed, Melcher said AIA’s response would be, “let’s look at the facts of this … If you want the Defense Department to look at the requirements to see if … it’s too much cost, well then, perhaps that’s something that could be re-examined.” Asked how seriously AIA takes this episode, Melcher said, “What is tweeted today is not necessarily going to be the policy tomorrow. Let’s face it, most of these things tend to be more emotional in context … All of our companies ought to be looking for the right ways to engage, and not over-react to any one particular note that comes out today or tomorrow.”