Update, June 19: Air Transport World’s Geoffrey Thomas (the 2008 Aerospace Journalist of the Year) spoke with Boeing’s CEO Jim McNerney on the 787 Line 2, and it’s more warning to the IAM. Here is the full ATW Online report:
McNerney: ‘My nerve’ to launch new aircraft programs is ‘spectacularly strong’
“No, No, No!” was the short and emphatic answer from Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney when ATWOnline asked him whether the manufacturer has lost its nerve to launch a new aircraft program after the battering the company took from 787 production glitches. “My nerve remains spectacularly strong,” he said during a conversation this week in Paris. “We did not do the job on the 787 supply chain execution. But we are fools if we do not learn from it. There are things we are going to do very differently going forward.”
He added, “If you don’t convert failure into success you don’t stay in business too long. Fortunately we have had more successes than failures and we have learned from those failures. It’s my job to make sure the institution learns from this and to ensure that the people in charge next time have learned.”
McNerney noted that a second 787 production line may not be started until after introduction of the 787-9 in 2012. The Dreamliner will hit a production rate of 10 per month by the last quarter of 2012. He explained that program execution is “now a religion” and “we don’t want to jeopardize the 787-9 introduction” by moving people to support a second line.
He also issued a blunt warning to Boeing’s Seattle-based unions: “We have had serious delivery delays over the years because we could not get a timely settlement with the union and we can’t keep letting our customers down. The union problem is a Seattle problem.” He was referring to the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751. Last year it struck for 58 days but the impact of the strike was far greater as many of the 27,000 workers involved were required to requalify on tasks before returning to work. (Emphasis added.)
by Geoffrey Thomas
Update, June 18:
Dominic Gates has this excellent, long piece about the challenges of ramping up production beyond seven a month (Boeing has already said it wants to go to 10/mo by the end of 2012; and Gates also has a response from Boeing to Ostrower’s story below saying no Line 2 decision is “imminent.”
This is the fifth is a series of reports from the EADS media day and the Paris Air Show.
We hadn’t planned to be on-line today since we’re traveling back to Seattle, but as we were at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Jon Ostrower published an exclusive interview with Boeing’s VP of Products and Services, Pat Shanahan, who hinted a decision on the location for the 787 Line 2 production is very near. So while we’re at Copenhagen waiting for our connecting flight on SAS (a great airline that unfortunately discontinues service to Seattle next month), we added this important story.
The interview isn’t good news for the unions or, by extension, Seattle. Read the article here.
In our speech in April before the Snohomish County Economic Development Council, we predicted that Boeing would make a decision late this year or in 2010 to locate Line 2 somewhere other than Seattle, citing among other reasons the poor labor relations with the IAM. Shanahan addresses this in Ostrower’s article.
It looks like a decision may be coming a lot sooner than we thought. Nothing we’ve heard since our speech leads us to believe Line 2 will be in Everett.