Mike Martin

Jean Pierson's last air show appearance as chief executive of Airbus Industrie was vintage stuff.

Some 13 years ago, when he joined the company, he told his team to "-fasten their seat belts: I promise we will cause some turbulence".

Staff reaction went unrecorded, but the indomitable Pierson had indeed delivered on his promise and that turbulence has ripped right through the industry. Pierson's last air show press conference was an opportunity to reflect on events which have resulted in the emergence of just two large civil aircraft manufacturers.

Looking back to 1960, Pierson said that then there were two giants - McDonnell Douglas and Boeing. "The major change is that now we have two manufacturers in 1998 but one is in Europe and only one in the United States."

Turning to Boeing (it does not take long), Pierson re-stated Airbus's ambition to grow so that the large civil market would be divided 50-50 between itself and Boeing. He paused, smiled and growled: "Actually, we want to be Number One."

The questioner from Morgan Stanley who asked whether Airbus could achieve 50% of the market and remain profitable drew a typical response.

"You are not a journalist and you should know the answer," said Pierson before offering to act as a consultant for Morgan Stanley. Pierson was asked what he plans to do after "retiring" and snapped back that he never said he was retiring.

"I intend to be chairman at home because for the last 13 years I have not been- I have not been at home."

But as he said, his last airshow press conference was easy: "Because whatever I say, I do not have to deliver."

The industry, Boeing included, is hoping it has not heard the last of Jean Pierson.

Source: Flight Daily News