Secret 777X Plan: The Seattle Times reports that Boeing has some secret planning underway for assembly options for the 777X. This involves increasing the automation on the assembly (and thereby reducing manpower) and increasing the production rate to 10 or 12 a month, according to Dominic Gates’ story. This rate is still below the ultimate target of 13/mo Airbus has in mind for the A350, up from the announced 10/mo. And Airbus is considering yet a second assembly line for the A350, though it is unclear if Line 2 would be for the incremental 3/mo to 13 or more than 13.
The increased automation described by The Times, and the manpower-automation trade off, sounds very similar conceptually to the robotic process Boeing uses to paint 777 wings. In pre-Paris Air Show briefings, Boeing addressed the manpower issue. What jobs were lost to painting were shifted elsewhere as production of the 777 ramped up to the current 8.3/mo. According to The Times article, increased production of the entire 777X line would offset jobs lost to automation.
IAG goes with Airbus: In another huge order, assuming all options are exercised, Airbus scored a big win with the parent of British Airways, Iberia and Spain’s Vueling (an LCC), IAG, for up to 220 A320ceo/neos. Bloomberg has the details.