Odds and Ends: Mike Mecham, aviation fixture, retires; 777 robotics

Mike Mecham is a fixture in aviation journalism. He is retiring after 26 years with Aviation Week.

We’ve known Mike only for a few of these 26 years. He’s a cantankerous curmudgeon infamous for his monopolizing press events as if he was doing a one-on-one, totally oblivious to two dozen other journalists waiting their turn to question the subject, and having a jaundiced view of just about everything.

And that’s what made him so likeable in spite of himself.

At Boeing’s media dinner at the end of Day One of the pre-Paris Air Show briefing, Boeing’s Commercial Corp Com arose to wish him well, tell some stories and give him an airplane. True to form, Cranky Mikey remarked he hoped it wasn’t a 787 with batteries. (It was a 747-8 model.)

Mike was virtually joined at the hip with Guy Norris, another AvWeek journalist. No matter what the event, Guy and Mike appeared together. This constant companionship inevitably inspired ribald commentary. We have to believe Guy will go through withdrawal.

We asked Mike as we were boarding our respective buses off the Boeing property at the end of Day 2 what he planned to do in retirement. Mike plans to eschew aviation and commune with nature. We shudder to think how Mother Nature will greet this news; she and her creations will never be the same.

AirInsight has this 3 1/2 minute video with Mike, who gives his unvarnished views of the industry.

We wish Mike all the best.

In Boeing News:

Boeing showed us some technological advances in building the 777, another step in the Lean process begun in 2005. King 5 TV has this story: 777 wing painting. The Seattle Times also has a report.

We don’t have much to add to these two reports, so we’ll leave this topic here.

6 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Mike Mecham, aviation fixture, retires; 777 robotics

  1. Congratulations, Mike on your retirement. You earned it, and you will love retirement, I do. You won’t miss the ‘rush hour’ traffic to work and home again.

    It is a good thing Boeing is pressing on with its lean production programs, getting robots to do things like paint wings saves a lot of time.

    • Automotive assembly lines paint a car every couple of minutes, aircraft are painted every couple of days. A car is a much easier envelope for a robotic arm to paint than a 100-200 foot wing or fuselage (or both). Typical aircraft paint booth has to handle multiple models of aircraft of significantly different size. It is a tough automation problem and the cost is hard to justify.

  2. Thanks again for the interesting notes. Side note, the Seattle Times link leads to the king5 story.

  3. Congratulations on the retirement. There were many innovations during the past 26 years to observe and the industry is moving forward even faster each day.

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