Of course, collecting intelligence on a competitor is not unethical -- it's smart, and all companies do it. But there are lines and standards. As a competitor, Airbus' practice of re-publishing Boeing's clearly-marked proprietary data -- even internally -- will certainly raise eyebrows across the industry.
This morning, I asked John Douglass, former head of the Aerospace Industries Association, about this. He has not reviewed the Airbus document yet, but here's what he thinks.
"Anytime you see one company with another company's slides marked 'proprietary' it does raise an eyebrow and you wonder what the deal is," Douglass said. "You have to wonder how widely available these things are. It could have been something that's very widely available. Somebody had a presentation at a conference and it said proprietary but it was handed out anyway. And in a case like there's not much of an issue."But what if it isn't? Could such a document provoke concerns within the US government even as Airbus seeks to offer the US Air Force the A330 as a tanker?
"Obviously our government is, you know, concerned about these things and want to see all the contractors perform in an ethical way, so, yeah, it could be an issue," Douglass said. "On the other hand this could be just some charts somebody got."