July 5, 2022

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Boeing moves its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Virginia.

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Boeing has moved its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Virginia, according to two people familiar with the deal, a sign that the aerospace giant is tilting its military wing and better positioning it to wade into the political quagmire.

The move, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, could be officially announced as soon as next week. It also comes as Boeing struggles to shrug off the financial burdens of the 737 Max, the pandemic’s stifling impact on travel and the fallout from severing ties with Russia. The company reported a loss of $1.2 billion in the first quarter.

The move was confirmed by two people familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because the company was planning to wait until next week for an announcement. Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation from the Washington Post.

Governor Glenn Yongkin (right)’s administration has been working for the past two months with Boeing to lure the company into the state, according to the two people who said the governor, a former Carlyle Group executive, has a personal relationship with Boeing President and CEO David L. Calhoun.

The two officials said the state had not offered Boeing any “significant” financial incentives.

“For competitive reasons and to protect confidential company information, we cannot comment on current or potential economic development prospects,” Arlington County spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said in a statement. Katie Kristol, chair of the Arlington County Board of Directors (Democratic), also declined to comment.

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The move comes as Boeing has faced intense scrutiny from the Federal Aviation Administration in recent years, a shift that came after lawmakers noted the close ties between regulators and the company after the crash of the 737 Max in 2018 and 2019. This relationship, however, could raise concerns. Frontline employees in engineering and manufacturing, who previously raised concerns about overstepping safety issues by company executives and senior FAA officials.

Boeing currently operates a large office in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, less than a mile from the Pentagon and at the edge of an area that local officials have dubbed “National Landing.” Amazon is building a second headquarters – also several blocks away – that is supposed to anchor development in the area.

Boeing’s move to Arlington confirms the expectations of many national landing boosters, who have said Amazon’s arrival in the region will spur economic growth in a neighborhood that has long been considered underused and undeveloped. Following a 2005 Federal Committee recommendation to relocate defense contractors, Crystal City lost approximately 17,000 military and defense workers who occupied approximately 4 million square feet of office space.

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As part of the push to create a high-tech corridor at National Landing, Virginia Tech plans to construct a new engineering campus in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard. Last year, Boeing donated $50 million to the school for financial aid and various other initiatives, and university leaders also said they plan to work closely with the airline on student projects and career initiatives.

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Ed Pearson, a former former manager of the 737 plant in Renton, Washington, told of the company’s plans to relocate, and said his “stomach fell.” He said it will be important for executives to stay in touch with manufacturing operations in the Seattle and South Carolina area.

“My immediate reaction was that Chicago was too far away, and the thought that it was going to go so far was amazing,” said Pearson, who filed to Congress as a whistleblower after the accidents.

Much of the FAA’s interest is focused on the 787 Dreamliner, which is manufactured in South Carolina. Aircraft quality problems have accumulated and Boeing has halted deliveries of aircraft to customers.

The company said when it released quarterly earnings last week that it had submitted paperwork to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that would pave the way for deliveries to begin again, but it remains unclear when regulators might give their approval.

Boeing moved its global headquarters to Chicago in 2001, but the commercial aircraft division is still headquartered in Renton, Washington, outside of Seattle, where the company was founded in 1916.