Odds and Ends: 787 teething; IAM-777X continues; Boeing in Puget Sound; Dubai Air Show

787 teething issues: Flight Global has this report from the Dubai Air Show in which it quotes Boeing as saying there will be another six months of teething issues on the 787. We hear it will be longer than this.

IAM-777X: These stories will continue for some time. The latest: Reuters has this exclusive interview with IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger, posted Friday. But a Boeing official later denied Buffenbarger’s claim.

Buffenbarger said the IAM won’t make a counter offer; Boeing previously said it has “no plans to re-engage” the IAM. As we noted in our posting Thursday, both sides retreated to their corners in a testosterone posture. Buffenbarger screwed this up. It’s up to him to come up with a counter-proposal.

This from the Dubai Air Show via Twitter:


Boeing exec’s lament quick timing of IAM vote on 777X labour deal, believe members did not “digest” all info completely.

This is more evidence of the completely botched effort. If Boeing is lamenting, then it, too, ought to come back to the bargaining table.

Reuters has this article from Dubai, quoting Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, saying the ball is now in IAM’s court.

Boeing in Puget Sound: After the IAM vote debacle, the Tacoma News Tribune has a long article (picked up in the Everett Herald) about the future of Boeing’s Frederickson plant, which makes stuff for a variety of 7-Series airplanes. It would have been a participant in the 777X program.

Dubai Air Show: This opens tomorrow; follow on Twitter at #Dxb13 and @Dubaiairshow

Some key articles:

34 Comments on “Odds and Ends: 787 teething; IAM-777X continues; Boeing in Puget Sound; Dubai Air Show

  1. 6 months of teething issues. How can anyone inside or outside Boeing know that.?

    • Hmpf, easy: The 6 month interval is hard coded in the MS-Word template the PR department uses for announcements of this type.
      Remember, remember the regular 6 month displacement given for 787 delays ( 6 times ? )

  2. Conner is right, the ball is in the IAM’s court. It is up to the IAM to come up with a counter proposal to the one Boeing submitted and they voted down. The IAM needs to realize that Boeing has other options for the B-777X FAL. If the IAM wants the work, they need to tell Boeing that. Remaining silent in their corner only puts IAM members jobs in jeopardy.
    Does Boeing need to come back to the table? Yes, they do. But they don’t need to bring another offer, yet. They need to listen to the union’s proposal and digest it, then make a counter offer, etc. That’s the only way Washington will get the B-777X FAL now.
    But there is the question of who represents the union membership now. The local? The international? That’s for the union to decide, Boeing doesn’t need to be part of that discussion.

    • kc – proposal and counter-proposal is a standard practice in labor contract negotiations. It takes place out of the public eye, across a conference table over weeks if not months. Meetings are conducted by experienced negotiators from management and labor who usually treat each other with courtesy and respect. Their mutual goal is Working Together [remember that, all you 777 veterans?] to Find A Way to a solution that is the best compromise between the not-always-exclusive needs of management and labor. Usually it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Whether or not it works, IT IS A LONG -TERM PROCESS!

      This was not a negotiation. It was a slap-in-the-face, kick-in-the-teeth, punch-in-the gut ultimatum. Boeing told the IAM “take-this-deal-or-shove-it”. The union leaders and members had ten days to understand and accept a labor contract that was to determine their livelihood from 2016 until 2024. No discussion, no negotiating. Everything was done in the press, not in a conference room.

      In a massive outburst of corporate hubris, spite, and stupidity, Boeing deliberately did everything they could to infuriate, insult, offend, and alienate the Local 751 machinists. They succeeded. Big deal. In the long run this will probably be a multi-billion-dollar example of “be careful what you wish for”. The usual gang of idiots who left Mad Magazine around the turn of this century to bring us the 787 program have now written another chapter in their business plan. It’s called “”Save A Short-Term Buck At Any Cost While Committing Long-Term Suicide”.

  3. Re; the B-787 teething problems. Many seem to forget how much a leap in technology the B-787 is compared to any other commercial airliner (except maybe the B-707). The B-787 has nearly 1000 orders now. So airlines may b!tch a little about the dispatch rate of 96%, but they seem to love the fuel economy when compared to the A-330 or B-767. Many forget when the Comet came out, it was a design failure, and took many years to recover. The B-707 was the first successful jet airline and paved the way for future designs. Today nearly all Boeing and Airbus designs can be traced back directly to the B-707 with swept wings and tail planes, engines in pods under the wings and a long constant fuselage cross section for the main cabin.
    One day, airliners will be able to trace their design lineage to the revolutionary B-787 with a mostly composite fuselage and wings, near all electric systems, and bleedless engines. The A-350 only goes about half way in its leap in technology when compared to the B-787.

    • “Many forget when the Comet came out, it was a design failure, and took many years to recover. The B-707 was the first successful jet airline and paved the way for future designs.”
      Boeing standing on the shoulders of giants.
      This actually is a runoff between british and german aeroresearch, isn’t it?

    • The Comet was not a design failure. It had a specific design flaw (square windows) which was discovered during a lengthy grounding, information which was then made freely available to Boeing et al. Without it I’m not aware of any reason to believe Boeing, or Douglas, or Convair would have recognised the issue pre-service. It also struggled because of US government opposition to the UK selling overseas, something they decided to do against US wishes not long before the design flaw proved terminal to Comet 1. This isn’t to say that the 707 wasn’t a much more capable aircraft but a large part of its success lies very simply with that single Comet flaw and with UK openness in the inquiry findings.

      • Actually Woody, Boeing pioneered airliner pressurization with the 1937 B-307. The B-307 had square windows and when they were pressed into USAAF as the C-75 service they had their pressurization systems removed to save weight and increase their cargo/passenger carrying capability. But on the B-307 Boeing had already found cracks around the window corners and went to round windows on the pressurized B-29 (except for the cockpit/nose section windows). Next came the Boeing C-97/B-377 which continued the Boeing pressurized line of aircraft.
        These 3 aircraft were all in service before the Comet-1 was.

      • If Boeing had understood the square/round(ed) issue with the B307 and B29 respectively, why did they then build a significant % of the B29 derived Stratocruiser with square windows?

      • The 307 didn’t get much utilisation and could hold about 2.5psi overpressure.
        Cruise was at 20kft.
        Comet1 cruised at ~40kft ( should require about 3 times the pressure differential)

    • Don’t fall over yourself glorifying achievements that are not Boeing’s. The only operational jet fighter Messerschmitt Me 262 had “jet engines in underwing pods”.

      • Boeing derived their basic “swept back wing, engine in pods” design from aerodynamic research liberated from the AVA site in Göttingen and probably some other research places.
        The noteworthy thing imho is that Boeing actually seems to have had engineers at hand that had an understanding for this gift and turned it into a range of dominating products.

  4. This site has actually managed to increase it’s emotional rhetoric re: IAM751, which I think is impressive. I figured cool hand luke would be a peak.

    Tough to match, but I do think Boeing needs to run, not walk, from the IAM751 folks. The sentiment, and priorities of said members/leadership are very clear.

    We can all revisit lamentations in a decade or two.

  5. The situation would appear to be very similar to a normal contract cycle where a strike is in progress. After the strike commences, neither side talks for four to six weeks, then outside pressures force them back to within spitting distance.

    At this point, any offer from the I.A.M. international, bypassing local 751, would simply enrage and inflame the rank and file. If the IAM makes an offer, it needs to provably come from Washington, not Maryland.

    As to Boeing, it is becoming better understood that an offer was made to Emirates for 777X that included pricing. Pricing can only be based upon KNOWN costs. Boeing already knows where 777X is going to be built, and by whom. Fortunately for Boeing, there is still doubt in union ranks as to the where’s and whom’s. The longer this goes, the more people that come to realize that the where is Everett, and the whom is 751, which would erode Boeing’s bargaining position. My prediction? Most 777X’s built in Everett with a 777x spite line, similar to Charleston, elsewhere. Because, you know, throwing good money after bad to get even with IAM 751 is the Chicago way.

    Meanwhile, there is story of a quid pro quo that was struck between Boeing and the IAM international to make the failed vote happen, real motivation to throw 751 under the bus for the international’s benefit. I’m waiting on a communication before that can be revealed.

  6. Ok, Here is what I have been told. I have no means to confirm this. I have been struggling trying to figure out why the IAM international would act in such an uncharacteristic, ham fisted and dismissive manner towards IAM 751. What was the upside? What was the payoff for going completely against principle and all past rhetoric? What was worth sacrificing it’s most powerful local?

    The Answer?

    Boeing Charleston.

    The agreement was, that if the IAM let this go to a vote and it passed the company would get out of the way of the IAM organizing effort in Charleston, and make no opposition to a one shot, up or down vote. Any contact offer would have to be similar to local 751’s.

    That was the deal. As I said, I cannot confirm this as fact, but on the plausibility scale it’s ten out of ten. It’s a perfect fit.

    The international was willing to sacrifice the rock solid, always faithful 751 to people that had voted it out of Charleston several years ago.

    That will NOT go down well with the Machinists in Seattle. Not well at all.

  7. Early word out of Dubai is that the A380 will get 50 orders and the A350 a snoot full.

    Now Emirate is talking 30 777X. Can you guess why?

    Comments like “the A350 is having fewer problems than we thought” and we have to get the production volume up on the 777X. Behind the 8 ball as usual

    What part of brilliant maneuvering are we talking about? Chicago can’t get a production plan in place before they launch an aircraft (does anyone but me find this not only amazing but incredulous that the guy in charge is not fired?)

    Yep, lets announce the launch of an aircraft, we don’t know where it will be built, or by who but we sure expect people to order lots of them, after all, if you look at our record, well scratch that, just look at what we say err scratch that, “brother can you spare me a plane order?”

    • Up until the B-737MAX and B-777X, the location of the FAL was not a concern. I doubt it is a concern of the customers who have ordered the B-737MAX or the B-777X (LH).
      It doesn’t seem to be a problem for WB Airbuses, as we Airbus knows it will always be built in France, and Germany gets just one NB FAL, and of course the all important fitting out facility.

    • A said to be fantastic but rather underdefined product “just around the corner” was Microsofts method of (successfully) preempting much better competing products. Microsoft used full spectrum PR warfare “no holds barred” to make this stick. FUD, Astroturfing, fake testimony, fake “professional” analysis, whatever would tilt the table to their side. Boeing has taken up most of this toolbox for its own purposes.

      • FUD is a common tactic in business, and its mastery goes much further back than Microsoft. You might do some reading about IBM and the mainframe business in the 1960s …

  8. Steve: I was involved in the labour movement (a professional group but nothing whatever to do with aviation). If a central takes over bargaining it is usually nothing more than a customary act when local tensions and dislikes reach such a point that they affect the ‘rights of the membership’ which is supposed to be sacred. My estimate is that it was judged that the local leadership would not agree to take any offer to the membership, other than one which they were sure would be rejected. In this case the national did their job, got the best offer, and it was rejected. Absolutely normal procedure.

    Two other points: Yes in normal negotiations it is the union’s turn to counter-offer – a failure to do so risk a bad faith bargaining charge – deadly when (if) the issue went to arbitration. If the central does not force a counter-offer I would personally have seen them all dismissed with cause!

    And as for bargaining in Charleston: The union can try to organise any time they want – and if they have the sense to couple that with union-operated group health they may get somewhere (the courts may allow a worker to decouple from an union for membership, but not do so and retain union benefits). And if Boeing tries to stop them then you get a federal/state labour law clash.

  9. David, There is nothing normal about it with 751. It’s been entirely destructive. There were no ‘local tensions’ because the rank and file had ZERO knowledge beforehand.

    As to counter offers, there can be none. Any legitimate offer must emerge from the rank and file via their elected officials at 751. ANY offer coming form the IAM international will already have the deck stacked against it. Nobody trusts them anymore. Which is not to say it’s impossible. It would just be an easier bargain, with much less drama, if it’s handled locally.

    Anti-union efforts By Boeing against the IAM in Charleston have never ceased. Boeing simply agreeing to step asides would boost the possibility of certification greatly. There would be a good deal of incentive for the IAM to have struck such a quid pro quo.

    And as an aside, this is America, not Europe. We have a saying here ” All politics is local”. And thus it was with the failed offer and the no vote. The locals were ignored and those that ignored them sent packing.

  10. Big A380 orders would be not in line with all the news news on the demise of VLA’s as found all around during the last 6 months.

  11. Any twin WB with slots available in the next seven years will be way behind the A350 and 777X with respect to CASM (or maybe I should say CA sq ft??) by the time it is 10 years old, but the A380 won’t be. Plenty of comments about the 777X and the A350 being equal, but A380s are available now, 777Xs and A350s aren’t.

    Not surprising to see a resurgence really, makes sense as long as you can fill them.

  12. The IAM could make a proposal, if they know what Boeing’s position is. Is Boeing willing to pay the current overall compensation, plus two or three percent for general inflation, just not keep up with health care costs and longevity in pension costs? Or, do they want to reduce compensation more than that?

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