Odds and Ends: Boeing’s presence in Seattle; 747-8 future; Japan awaits 787 NTSB hearings; Airport delays

Boeing’s presence in Seattle: Bill Virgin, a respected local journalist and observer of aerospace and manufacturing, wrote this column for the Tacoma News-Tribune looking at Boeing’s future presence in the Seattle area.

The points Virgin raise are valid, and in total have been discussed for years here. We raised some of these points as far back as April 2009 in a speech to a local economic development group.

Parochially, of course, we want to see Boeing stay here. Putting on our business hat, we can make a solid argument for Boeing’s diversification. We see Charleston becoming to Everett what Hamburg is to Toulouse: a major, major manufacturing center and aerospace cluster.

We are firmly convinced that when the day comes Boeing designs an all-new airplane to replace the 737, South Carolina will be its assembly home and Renton’s facility will close, to be given over to mixed use development along the lines of what’s called Renton Landing. Boeing’s “move to the lake” has been years in the planning and years in the making. We don’t believe it is over.

What about Everett? We see the future of Everett solid for at least a generation and probably a lot longer, at least until the 787 production begins to wind down. Local politicians fear Boeing will assemble the forthcoming 777X somewhere else. We don’t think so. The 777 tooling is here, the skilled workforce is here and it wouldn’t make sense to build a derivative elsewhere, just as it didn’t make sense to build the 737 MAX anywhere but Renton. Furthermore, we firmly believe the 777X will kill off the nearly morbid 747-8I. This will free up space to build the 777X here.

747-8 Future: The Puget Sound Business Journal last week published a long story about the inter-relationship between the 777X and the 747-8I, an its impact on the struggling program. On the same day the story was published (Friday), Boeing announced a production rate cut in the program from 2/mo to 1.75/mo. We had expected a deeper cut. One consultant we spoke with on Friday suggests Boeing will do what it can to keep the 747-8 alive pending recapitalization of the 747 at the USAF–in other words for Air Force One and the Doomsday aircraft. We’ve been saying the former for quite a while but had not thought about the latter. But there are only four aircraft. Still, the prestige of having the 747 as Air Force One is worth a lot.

The PSBJ article is here: PSBJ 747 041913

Japan Awaits Hearings: Japanese regulators are waiting for the Boeing 787/Japan Air Lines hearings by the National Transportation Safety Board this week before deciding whether to approve a return-to-service by the aircraft, according to this news report.

Airport Delays: You can track airport delays resulting from controller layoffs here.

25 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Boeing’s presence in Seattle; 747-8 future; Japan awaits 787 NTSB hearings; Airport delays

  1. “What about Everett? We see the future of Everett solid for at least a generation and probably a lot longer, at least until the 787 production begins to wind down”.

    You’re naive. Didn’t you see the article about Boeing canceling the 650,000 square foot Everett office tower to replace the five crumbling 1960’s “flattop” engineering buildings? Don’t you think they’d go ahead with this if they were planning to stay here for “at least a generation”?

    “The 777 tooling is here, the skilled workforce is here and it wouldn’t make sense to build a derivative elsewhere.”

    Get real. Tooling? And why can’t Boeing build a duplicate set of tooling in Charleston for the 777 just like they did for the 787? Skilled local workforce? That didn’t stop them from building the Charleston factory, did it?

    Take off your rose-colored glasses. Boeing will be gone from Puget Sound within a decade if not sooner.

    • Uhh take a look at the location of of then old flattop engineering buildings in realation to the assembly buildings. It **could** be that to enlarge the assembly buildings eventually, it would be a logical extension. Plus of course somehow, BA must make up a billion $$ or so for the battery fiasco so as to NOT endanger McNearney golden parachute. What better way but to lay off people, defer major research, defer major construction, and get a bigger whip to drive the remaining employees ? ” you could be next ” out the door !! meanwhile please put this broom handle to your posterior to help sweep the floor. !!

    • IMO, Boeing is probaly going to locate the 777X Final Assembly Line (FAL) at Charleston; next door to an all new manufacturing plant for the all new composite 777X-wing. However, 777 fuselage production would in all likelihood remain in Everett, using the existing 777 fuselage production infrastructure. The Dreamlifter could then carry 777 fuselage sections on the return flights between Everett and Charleston.

      However, IMO the 777X will be vulnerable to an all new A360X aircraft family coming online in the 2020s, bridging the gap between the A350 and futurestretched derivativesof the A380-800. In fact, an all new A360X-wing slightly larger than the 777X-wing could be used on three different aircraft with three different MTOWs: A 7 frame stretch of the A350-1000 (i.e. same undercarriage, but an all new centre wing box), An A360X family of aircraft and thirdly, a twin intermediate ranged A380 (A370X?).

      The article assumes that with the 777X everything is going to be hunky-dory for Boeing. The 777-9X can only compete with the A350-1000 using 10 seats across in economy class in a roughly 10-foot-longer cabin, and with an engine having a TSFC some 5 percent less than that of the Trent XWB-97 on the A350-1000.

  2. 747-8 future.
    Interestingly, the article is about the B777 versus the B747, or the B777 versus the A350.
    The A380 is absent from the demonstration. What to make out of it?

  3. Why do the Air Force One and Doomsday Aircraft need to be based on the 748? The current ones are 742s, which are basically the same size inside as the 773. 777X will be bigger yet. (Of course that could open things up to the A350 competition … though I suspect that Airbus would be willing to let that one go.)

    • A twin needs to land at the nearest airport once one engine is down per current rules. Also, a twin cannot sustain normal cruising altitude once it’s down to one engine — i.e. a twin flying on only one engine cannot fly over the Himalayas — and lower altitude flying increases fuel consumption. USAF obviously prefers that AF1 remains a quad since it can can keep on flying at the same altitude with one engine down. A twin AF1 with one engine down could be required to land in a non-secured airport etc.

  4. RE AF one – as I recall, a long long time ago, rules for AF one were( are) four engines ( for overseas travel ) proven airframe, etc , room for automobile and certain security items, etc – and of course made in america. Its NOT likely those will change in then next 20 to 30 years.

    That leaves ONLY 747.

  5. They shrunk the floorprint of the 767 production. Maybe they will do that with the 747 and keep it going for about 15 years.

  6. Not exactly a vote of confidence for the FAA by the Japanese regulators, nor for Boeing by ANA for that matter. 100 to 200 flight tests before re-introducing the aircraft into service, while perhaps a bit of a high number, is the sort of action that Boeing should be carrying out, not its customers. More revealing is that the FAA did not insist on a more strenuous flight test program.
    The Japanese regulators have visibly demonstrated they have more faith in what the NTSB has to say, rather than the FAA. This despite the “close communication” between the FAA abd NTSB.

    • Are these flghts mandated by the Japanese regulator or are they an exercise by ANA to reassure their flying public about the 787?

      ANA invested a lot of their prestige in the 787 and I imagine they are feeling somewhat burnt by what’s happened. I remember a remarkable 6 or 8 page advertising supplement celebrating the 787 enerting service in the print version of the Economist magazine. They essentially claimed the 787 as ANA’s product, made reference to the large contribution made by Japanese firms and relegated Boeing almost to a junior partner.

      • As far as I know, the extra flights are not mandated by the Japanese regulators.

  7. But looking at the big picture on the market, Boeing will be a big looser to Airbus in the coming years.
    Last year I said that Boeing’s lead over Airbus in terms of orders and deliveries was just a flash in the pan, airbus will retake the lead in all fronts this year.

    That is exactly what is happening, the A320 neo has trashed the 737 max in the market, Boeing slowness in launching the 787-10 and 777X is opening doors of opportunities to airbus.
    As proof, IAG has now ordered the A350-100, I don’t think that many operators will have both the A350-100 and the 777X in their fleets. An operator who buys the A350-100 will probably not buy the 777X.

    If Boeing goes to the Paris airshow without the 787-10 or 777X ( I suspect that will be the case), then airbus will gain even more ground, Boeing’s current portfolio of aircraft does not attract many orders.
    With Boeing laying off 700+ engineers, it does not look like any new aircraft development program will start within the next 3 to 6 months, so even when the 777X is launched, it will not be as successful as the model its replacing.

    • I can see a lot of airlines going for a mixture of 787-10 for regional and trans-Atlantic flights and the A350-900 or 1000 for intercontinental and trans-Pacific flights, as IAG are doing. The planes are about the same size but optimized for different distances. It’s similar to Swiss’ current A333/A343 strategy.

      I do see a niche role for the 777-9x. If you want a plane that is larger than the A350 but smaller than the A380, that’s the plane you buy. I am doubtful about the 777-8x though.

      • The 787-10 will have the -8 wing if I’m still correct. If Boeing bites the bullit (as I would recommend) and put a larger wing on the 787-10, leaving the option open for further stretches/ HGW it could become a real A350 competitor on key markets like Asia-Europe and Asia-North America with a good cargo load. I would not be surpriced now that the 777-200/ER/LR stopped selling and the 777-8x sofar gets a less then enthousiast market responds.

  8. All these problems result from NOT having an aerospace person at the top! What happened to the concept of industry knowledge, not industry apologists?

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