Pratt and Whitney’s Hess: corporate jets got bad rap

December 14, 2009

Pratt and Whitney President David Hess says corporate jets got a bad rap from Washington and the rhetoric hurt the industry.

Remember the furor over automakers arriving for congressional hearings late last year in corporate jets to ask for bailouts? And how President Barack Obama and his administration was publicly angry that Citigroup was purchasing a $50 million plane while receiving government funds from the Troubled Assets Relief Program.

Well all of the rhetoric hurt the corporate jet industry, Hess said in an interview at a Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit. AERO-ARMS-SUMMIT/

“Some of the criticism of the business jet industry was very unfortunate early this year. That’s a great industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S.,” Hess said. Companies that make corporate jets have lost jobs and their suppliers have been affected like Pratt and Whitney Canada which is expected to see engine deliveries down about 20 percent this year, he said.

“I think there was a lot of rhetoric from the current administration that vilified the industry and people who use business jets which I think was very unfortunate,” he said.

It wasn’t just the political environment and the rhetoric, he acknowledged.

“Typically, business jet deliveries follow corporate profits. They track pretty closely. so clearly the industry would have suffered because of the economic downturn,” Hess said.

“But I think, some of the rhetoric further impacted the industry.  I think it could have not been as bad had maybe the rhetoric been a little bit different.”

As for his own travels, Hess says he “absolutely” flies in a corporate jet — noting that just today he had to travel to Washington, New York and Seattle.

“It’s a business tool, you need it to be efficient and productive in business, so I am going to fly in a business jet,” he said.

Photo credit: Reuters/Molly Riley (Hess)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

If the defense contractors would stick to the quoted price on a bid contract it would look much better,

On cost plus contracts they make millions on waste they create themselves for the profit is based on the amount they spend or say they spend. They do not give itemized pay request that lists the items by name, the items are listed by number so they could be listing a screw or bolt and put the cost at 100 dollars and even with a hard nosed inspector they would have trouble finding out exactly what it was for there would be hundreds if not more items listed.


Posted by todnwth | Report as abusive

I completely understand that Mr. Hess and other defense executives will say whatever needs to be said to advance what they percieve to be the interests of their employers. Of course, in tough times, companies that are not successful in thier business will tend to seek to assign blame for their troubles to others, i.e., the government. Mr. Hess should note that noone, not even the Obama administration, is opposed to the success of the U.S. aerospace industry, but this success has to be accomplished on merits, not on government subsidies. I would contrast Mr. Hess’s comments with those of the GE CEO, who has recently talked a great deal about the new age of corporate responisbility. Pratt & Whitney, and UTC in general, should strive to make better products that customers will want to buy. Mr. Hess’s focus should be on making his company more competitive so that it can compete with General Electric and, perhaps, regain some of the business that Pratt & Whitney has lost through its well-documented failures (i.e., the great engine war that allowed GE to enter the military engine market, or telling Boeing to redesign the wing on the 737 to allow it to accept a Pratt engine, resulting in the complete loss of the 737 market to CFM). Today, I cannot think of a less inspiring large company to work for or a place that disrespects its work force more than Pratt & Whitney. Ineffective management, incompetent former members of the military hired solely for their percieved connections to the Pentagon procurement organization, undeserved executive perks and chronic disloyalty to employees are just some of the issues Pratt has faced. Indeed, the company’s failures are the direct result of its culture, and not the government’s criticism of waste. I am greatful to Pratt for making me quit, qo back to school and become successful in another field, but I don’t believe this is a sustainable business model. When will our American executives finally become leaders? When will the goal of people running corporate America be long terms success and not a quick buck? When will they understand that succcess requires inspiration? Why is Mr. Hess and his predecessors are more like Jeffrey Sjilling and Ken Lay than Warren Buffett or Richard Branson? Perhaps Mr. Hess should focus on being a leader, not a whiner.

Posted by bigb1975 | Report as abusive

Boo Hoo Mr. Rich guy.

If these people can’t handle their job, I know a few million unemployed people who would love to take their jobs, salary, and bad rap for you!

Posted by TheSanDiego | Report as abusive