Boeing throws Seattle a curve, doesn’t assume 737RE will be built there

Update, July 28, 6:45am PDT: Gates has expanded his original story with more about the developments through yesterday, plus IAM comments.

Update, 6:00pm PDT: Dominic Gates just sent this message concerning the Boeing statement below:

I just spoke with John Dern. (Dern is a corporate spokesman for Boeing in Chicago.)

Dern said: “I am not saying your report was inaccurate. This is not about your reporting. The statements were inaccurate.”

In other words, Boeing Chicago is disavowing the statements of its own senior PR executives here in Puget Sound.

Update, 510pm PDT: This story gets odder as the day goes on. This just came from Boeing:

The comments delivered this morning by Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney regarding the potential location of final assembly for the re-engined 737 stand as delivered. While Renton, Wash., logically would be our first location considered, no decision has been made, nor would one be made at this point in the program. The decision on where to build the airplane will be made in due course as we move through the process of launching the airplane and evaluating production requirements. The statements in the Seattle Times attributed to company spokespeople made after the company’s earnings call were neither accurate nor representative of the company’s or BCA’s position.

You have to read this carefully to fully understand what has been said here: “the statements” were inaccurate and not representative of the company’s or BCA’s position.

It’s very odd there is a public dispute between Boeing Chicago and BCA.

Update, 11:25am: Boeing Commercial Airplanes back-peddled from McNerney’s comments. Here is Dominic Gates’ story in the Seattle Times, just posted. BCA really steps back from McNerney.

Original Post:

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney threw Seattle a curve on the earnings call: he said the 737 Re-engine could be built somewhere other than at Renton, where the 737 has been built since inception.

His paraphrased comments:

We haven’t made the final decision about where we’re going to produce the RE airplane. After 42/mo, we do run into some challenges at Renton. We have other options and we will study them all as we think this through. We would study Charleston, Renton and compare with another site.


Renton is one of the great aerospace factories in the world. Until we have sorted out the milestones associated with the ramp-up, the degree to which we have to modify the airplane, major investments required, but until we sort that out we have to keep this open. Until we study it all, obviously we have to keep it open. There is significant investment required and until we figure it out we have to sort it out.

This will be a locally developing story today.

As you can see from McNerney’s comments, part of the site location will be driven by how much the airplane is modified. Aspire Aviation just posted this analysis about what the airplane may become.

That Boeing might locate the 737RE line somewhere other than Renton is stunning news. Boeing has said the New Small Airplane would be competed, but any additional expansion of 737 production beyond the announced plans to go to 42/mo by 2014 nonetheless was assumed to be for Renton because the 737-based P-8A line has the capacity to do 21 airplanes a month–for a total of 63 in Renton, include the P-8.

If Boeing is truly going to consider other locations for the 737RE, this will become a major plumb to compete for. Immediate possibilities are Charleston, of course, and San Antonio (TX), where Boeing has a growing presence. Cynically we could throw Mobile (AL) into the mix.

Washington’s Project Pegasus, established by Gov. Gregoire to compete for the NSA, will almost certainly shift focus to the prospect of the 737RE, supporting not only Renton but also other potential sites in the state.

A feeding frenzy could emerge rather quickly.

32 Comments on “Boeing throws Seattle a curve, doesn’t assume 737RE will be built there

  1. Boeing, go build it in Charleston. Let the IAM file another protest with the union stacked, Obama run NLRB.

  2. Setting up a brand new line would seem like a step up in difficulty and cost than raising the landing gear for a bigger fan. The rationale being, if you are going to raise the landing gear, might as well just spend that design money on the NSA. If you’re going to spend the money to set up a new line, might as well just set it up for the NSA.

    • Maturing the tech items for a new NSA ( from either Airbus and/or Boeing ) can’t be
      forced into a much shorter timeframe.
      Till then the resources required towards that goal are rather moderate.

      Boeing never had a meaningfull chance to kick of a significantly better NB craft with
      EIS inside this or the early next decade. And they have just said as much.

      But they urgently need a product to tide them over that dozen year span because
      without they won’t be a significant force in that market for much longer.

      Urgently Need: A gap filler.

      Unfortunately they can’t have it as cheap as Airbus.

      Question on the side: How much cheaper than a new design was the NG iteration?
      Does the advantage really go beyond commonality and advantageous certification

      • Well, if we are talking about a dozen year span until the NSA, then looking at more things than a re-engine with the existing landing gear start to make sense. New production line, longer main landing gear, new cockpit section, etc.

  3. This is not “I just need to stay in the game “move, I think. Big B needs a newer and better Single Aisle that is competitive with all the Single Aisle competition. The investment in a better 737 will bring new business and help keep current ones if they can pull it off in the time allotted. Also it may well give raise to a whole new class of new Single Aisles, time will tell. Then down the road they can take advantage of newer technologies to build a Game Changer, may be since the 787 isn’t or hasn’t been that up to this point.

  4. I hope Mr mcNearney and his power point rangers leave good notes for their successors

    Its past time for the Boeing Bored of Directionless to remind McNearneys tribe ‘ not let the doorknob hit them in the posterior on their way out, and to dismantle the rip cord on their platinum plated parachutes >

  5. Mr. airbus, don’t you use imperial measured nuts and bolts when you sell airplanes in the US? I think you do.

    Mr. Boeing

    • In fact, at least one time KC135TopBoom got it right. Almost all nuts and bolts, as well as pipes and their connectors use imperial measured threads. But that does apply also to Airbus aircraft sold in Europe. There is no difference in nuts and bolts type and sizes between a US Airways A320 or a Lufthansa A320. This will not change! Not with NEO and not with follow-up Aircraft in 3030, 3050 or whenever. Maybe mr airbus should do a little bit more homework in aircraft structural design and established industry practice.
      Airbus design drawings are of couse in metric units. So the potential, that Airbus mixes up units is much more propable. And I am saying that while leaning much more towards the Airbus camp.
      In a nutshell: Units are an absolute non-issue from an engineering point of view and also regarding the topics discussed in the comments section of this blog. This is the leading blog for strategic industry intelligence regarding aircraft OEMs. This blogs deserve to be, to some extend at least, “fanboy” free… there are other places to spam: i.e.

      • Over 30 years ago, Boeing Commercial did make a study regarding U.S v Metric for fasteners and similar on commercial aircraft. Bottom line – they did not change. I’ve forgotten all the reasons why.

      • Remembering from Airbus History ( as told on the Airbus site ) :
        Taking the imperial path for accesories was an active decission
        done early on to stay compatible to the established market.

  6. CRORpower wrote;

    “not with follow-up Aircraft in 3030, 3050 or whenever.”

    I hope that is a simple typo and you airplanes built in “2030, 2050 or whenever”. I don’t think we could every guess what air travel looks like in a thousand + years. My guess is there won’t be any airplanes in a thousand years. People may get around the Earth through a low orbit system of some type or some kind of Star-Trek ‘transporter’ device in minutes or seconds, not hours or days. Or it may be something none of us can imagine.

    • Hey topboom- it was probably NOT a typo- he was probably using the dates in reference to when BA will ‘ break even ” on the 787 . . . .

  7. Dshuper :
    Over 30 years ago, Boeing Commercial did make a study regarding U.S v Metric for fasteners and similar on commercial aircraft. Bottom line – they did not change. I’ve forgotten all the reasons why.

    It’s interesting that all the car manufacturers have changed to metric fasteners (a long time ago) while aerospace appears to be completely (?) imperial.

    • (former) East Block is metric in all things.

      Car industry:
      Most interesting/relevant engine designs are done in Europe or Japan.
      Same for accessories.
      IMHO metric parts are a more coherent and defined resource ( DIN/ISO über alles )
      than their imperial counterparts.

  8. Will all due respect(which is none), McNerney is a [edited as a violation of our Reader Comment rules]

  9. Looks like the brief feel good era of working together at Boeing is over and it’s back to the good old days of the cold war between Boeing and its employees in the Seattle area. If this is not a shot across the bow, I don’t know what is. The fact that Boeing corporate disavows, in no uncertain terms, the placating comments of the Seattle spokespeople, tells you where the Chicago people want this relationship to go.

    Let’s face it, with 3 lines in Renton, you would practically need a brand new aircraft to justify creating a new line elsewhere.

    On the other hand, Boeing is probably talking tough from the beginning in order to prevent the IAM from launching another NLRB suit in the future. Smart in that they protect themselves but I see it as another great PR blunder as well.

  10. I love a cubus of 1 x 1 x 1 meters contains 1000 liters of water weiging 1000 kilograms.

    No particular desire to do that in feet, inches, gallons or pounds.

    But w’ll live with it. If Asia goes metric too that’s fine, that makes 3 billions people.

      • China seems to be “ambidextrous” in that respect.
        Though India seems to copy more imperial stuff
        while China copies more metric stuff.

      • The US Nigeria and Burma are the only countries with official imperial units… the rest are metric.

  11. Airbus and Antonov in Washington state!
    It just makes sense!

  12. The Boeing leadership worries. The company seems to be lost. The leaders have messed up the 787 program and spent a lot of time dithering about making the right decision on the 737RE. The way in which the RE was introduced was very shameful: next to the guys who have just sold more than 1000 Airbus 320 NEO and stolen the majority of orders of a key Boeing customer. A President and Chairman or CEO who loses more than 600 planes to a rival that did not have a single Airbus plane in his fleet does not deserve to key his position. Now they are exhibiting the same pattern of dithering when it comes to deciding where to build the 737RE. What a shame!!!!!

  13. The statements are not far apart: we expect to build the 737 RE at Renton, but we can’t be definite at this stage. Reading the Seattle Times it looks like there’s an argument between Albaugh and McNerney with both executives publicly contradicting each other. The PR people are just proxies.

  14. keesje :
    Sure this isn’t about state tax cuts ? (not subsidies..)

    Those only take place over at Airbus, the European communist jobs programme…

  15. Well, the people in charge of Boeing must be “weird” since the seem to be making the company a lot of money lately!

    • Mostly due to having the Dreamliner trainwreck lawn ornaments booked as $19b assets.
      I wouldn’t give much on Boeing Quarterly results and book keeping in general .
      Strictly for suckers imho.

      • I thought profit was money generated by the sales of goods and / or services minus the money spent to create (make) those goods and services. I don’t think booking inventory as assets creates any cash profit.

  16. Renton workers don’t need no stinkin’ 737RE, they got their union.

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