September 12, 2023
Gregory J. Hayes
Chairman and CEO, RTX,
Suzanne P. Clark
President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
RTX, a leading aviation company in the United States, is developing stronger global supply chains and working towards increased sustainability while protecting democracy around the world. However, the aerospace industry requires stability in government policies to craft long-term plans.
RTX Chairman and CEO Gregory J. Hayes spoke with Suzanne P. Clark, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, at the Global Aerospace Summit. The two discussed how the aerospace industry is evolving post-pandemic and the current challenges that industry leaders are facing.
Aerospace Companies Need Stability in Government Policy
One of the biggest challenges facing aerospace companies today is uncertainty. According to Hayes, government policy can play a significant role in bolstering stability.
“We need consistency of regulation. We need a consistent voice and a consistent direction,” said Hayes. “In Washington, we’re about to go into some serious negotiations around the budget [and need to know] what that means in terms of … defense spending … the air traffic control system, [and beyond].”
The need for certainty also extends throughout companies’ supply chains. Hayes explained that the threat of disruptions, such as government shutdowns, can cause stress to resonate throughout global supply chains and impact smaller businesses that aerospace companies like RTX depend on.
“But at the end of the day, having certainty of continuity of government, having certainty in priorities, is absolutely essential,” Hayes concluded.
Achieving Sustainability Requires Short- and Long-Term Planning
While the aircraft that RTX produces today still create greenhouse gas emissions, Hayes anticipates that there will be technology for zero-emissions aircraft by the time today’s airplanes reach the end of their service life.
“Today, we're selling jet engines that will fly for the next 30 years,” explained Hayes. “So does that mean we get to net zero in 2050? Probably not. Will we have a product line by 2050 that is capable of net zero? Absolutely.”
He also pointed out opportunities to achieve greater sustainability on a shorter timeline through public-private partnerships and with developments like sustainable aviation fuel.
“It starts with fuel efficiency of the engine, but it goes to questions of how to route air traffic more efficiently to reduce noise, to reduce pollution, and the time it takes to get from airport to airport,” Hayes said. “It involves working with NASA. It involves working with the DOE, with DARPA, with the European Space Administration, and with the European authorities.”
The Drive to Defend Democracy Fuels Innovation
Part of RTX’s mission is to defend democracy around the world, which inspires the company to work towards new advancements, said Hayes.
“That mission leads to an incredible amount of technology, know-how, and the precision systems that we have been able to develop,” he added.
Hayes pointed to the impact that developments such as the Patriot air defense system, the NASAM system, and Javelin anti-tank missiles have had in Ukraine.
“All of those things are built and designed to make sure that we could present a unified defense across NATO,” he noted. “And the fact that we could deploy these things and save lives every single day is an amazing benefit that we have.”
In his work, Hayes also considers how RTX aircraft and technologies can continue to provide protection in the U.S. and abroad in the future.
“[I ask myself], how do [we] develop the next generation? What are we going to be doing next to begin? How do we defend democracy?” he posited. “We don’t build these products to start a war. We build these products to try and prevent war.”
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