Airbus’ now-public intelligence brief about the 787 must raise some questions about the company’s code of ethics.
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.
“Anytimeyou see one company with another company’s slides marked ‘proprietary’ it doesraise an eyebrow and you wonder what the deal is,” Douglass said. “You have to wonder how widelyavailable these things are. It could have been something that’s very widelyavailable. Somebody had a presentation at a conference and it saidproprietary 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?
“Obviouslyour government is, you know, concerned about these things and want to see all thecontractors perform in an ethical way, so, yeah, it could be an issue,” Douglass said. “On the otherhand this could be just some charts somebody got.”