Odds and Ends: Boeing’s bonus to Charleston workers; E-Jet E2 EIS; IAM and Airbus; Fending off A330neo

Boeing’s bonus to Charleston workers: We’ve ignored the continuing workmanship stories of Boeing’s Charleston plant on the 787 for the past months as Norwegian Air Shuttle, LOT and Air India continue to have problems with the airplane. We figured there has been more than enough written about the program difficulties, so we moved on.

But the stories that Boeing is offering bonuses to Charleston workers to get the job right is something we feel compelled to comment on. The Seattle Times has this story.

It’s a bit of wonderment that Boeing finds it necessary to incentivize workers to do their jobs correctly, providing a bonus that is greater than those given to the Everett workers who have to fix the poor workmanship of Charleston. Typically, bonuses are given to workers for going above-and-beyond, not for merely doing what they are supposed to do in the first place.

The continuing issues with Charleston are waved away as “things are going according to plan,” and “traveled work is expected.” If this is “according to plan,” then the planner should be canned. Of course, we know this is merely corporate rhetoric dodging the question and strains credibility.

And back at Everett, those early 787s, known as the “Terrible Teens,” are still problem children, according to this report on public radio station KUOW.

EMB E2 timeline: Embraer has clarified its entry-into-service for the E-Jet E2. Flight Global reports that an official said the E-195 E2’s EIS will be the first half of 2018 (which was previously specified) and the E-190 E2 and E-175 E2 will follow in the first half of 2019 and 2020 respectively. Previously, EMB hadn’t been this specific about the EIS of the sibling models, saying only EIS would be in 2019 and 2020.

Union attempt at Airbus: To absolutely no surprise, the International Association of Machinists will attempt to unionize the new Airbus Mobile (AL) plant, reports The Street. IAM will also attempt to re-organize Boeing’s Charleston plant, which was once an IAM shop but de-certified in advance of the second 787 assembly line being located there. The Charleston Post and Courier has this story about the union plans there.

Conspiracy theorists in the IAM 751 suggested a quid-pro-quo between the International IAM: Boeing neutrality of re-organizing Charleston in exchange for the 777X contract vote.

Fending off A330neo: Aspire Aviation has a long piece about the prospective Airbus A330neo and how Boeing can fend off this potential competition.

Icing Up: This isn’t aviation (unless you consider this a satellite photo), but we are just fascinated by this picture of the Great Lakes in the US Midwest. The Great Lakes are 80% iced over.

28 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Boeing’s bonus to Charleston workers; E-Jet E2 EIS; IAM and Airbus; Fending off A330neo

  1. It would be very appropriate and respectful for Boeing to offer a bonus of equal amount to Everett workers as an incentive for their efficiency. I believe this would be a constructive step towards appreciating their workforce

  2. Hmmm- of COURSE the quality and travelers and related problems were a BIG surprise to the BOD, and were unknown until AFTER the 777x “negotiations” were completed and the vote made and the contract signed…. ooops – still no details on the great contract negotiated er coerced by the IAM greatest negotiator, who was so needed he was hired by Buffenberger for the job right after he retired . .

    Of course, the SC types got a bigger percentage simply cuz their wages were/are lower- so they get the same or nearly the same dollars for thir excellent contributions to the 787 program, having come down the learning curve in only 5 years.

    Of course BA improves quality by deleting several mid step checks making it even cheaper with more jobs for fewer Q/C types. And are in the process of rewriting the paperwork used by SC to take advantage of major improvements gained by dumping the “contractor ‘ types early last year. After all just in time worked well in deeeetroit for years for cars . . even the Ford types had to explain to Allan M that cars had thousands of pieces that had to be carefully assembled with precision . .

    OF course the SC crews have done so well BA will simply build the derivities of 787 and whatever in SC. ( this gives the Everett facility more time to fix the non countable travellers from SC ).

    And as a bonus for being BEHIND the curve about as much as Renton is AHEAD of Curve, BA will incentivize the SC types while sticking a broom up the posterior of the Everett crew and yelling ‘GOTCHA AGAIN ”

    Wonder which executive in the windy city will write a book on the marvellous way HE saved the BA company and instituted a new management techique known as
    Progress by Power Point . .

    MIke Sears had a similar book in progress . . .

    Scuze me while I barf !!

  3. Actually from the Chicago Boeing lack of management this all makes perfectly good sense. They look in the mirror and assume everyone is like them (so don’t get your hopes up about anything rational coming out of them) .

    After all, its all about money and if you aren’t doing your job its because you want more money. Ergo, if you want us to perform you have to give us a bonus.

    What is funny in a morbid sense is that they are now saying we have to mend relations with the Everett workforce and put this behind us. What’s this we thing? You not only step on someone you totally distort their contribution and disrespect them and worse than bitterness goes on forever.

    If I was Everett workforce I would do the minimum job I was called on. Then Boeing management will give us a bonus to do more! And of course you do a little more but not a lot and then keep the bonus offer rolling in.

    See, it all makes sense once you break it down to the logic of it all.

    Pride in work, country, community has nothing to do with any of this. Its all about money, no matter how poorly you do your job (Boeing Chicago certainly is the poster child for that).

    And in reality Boeing management is once again covering up their ineptness. The problem was caused by terminating the contract labor as there was supposedly a 3 month lull (and I suspect it was a “we are going to prove we don’t need them”) When management is not only acting but encourage to act irrationally, then irrational behavior results.

    So they terminated the costly glue that was holding the factory together. Of course once again it proves that they are scrambling to cover up the fact that they screwed up and you cannot build an experienced work force out of nothing and expect it to work. That takes 20 years or more for a complex entity like commercial aircraft.

    Unit price at Charlotte of course is higher than Everett because of the required expertise that had to be imported. So you shoot yourself the company in the foot to prove you were right (even though you just proved you were wrong once again).

    None of this is to denigrate the Charleston work force. Bonus or not they are doing their best. The reason that all tech work requires 5 years of experience is that is the minimum you need just to have someone break even. It takes another 3 years in the specific company to become a fully productive entity. It’s a fact of life. I have been there and done that and have seen it over and over again.

    What should be asked is what has this cost Boeing? And why is management getting paid at all let alone bonuses with the monumental string of mistakes they have made and continue to make? The game is rigged, its not capitalism, its welfare at the highest level.

    • …” If I was Everett workforce I would do the minimum job I was called on…”

      Simple- that technique is called ‘ work to rule. work exactly to rule . . .”

      And if that method spreads to Renton . . . it will be interesting to see what BA Power Point rangers come up with for an exp0lanation.

      And whipping the vendors re a no fly list WILL bite them in the rear- cuz once down to a sole supplier for your widgets- said sole supplier now has you by . . .

      Either BA pays up- or we simply refuse to sign any contract after x years…

    • If Everett worked as slowly as Charleston, BA would simply send more work to Charleston.

      • Now there is some amazing logic.

        Lets send it to Charleston when Charleston
        1. Is not at the production on rate they were supposed to be and the corollary
        2. Can’t do the work they have.

        Any issues with item 1 refer to item 2 and versa visa.

        As the union workers are the ones that have made the thing work, and they get treated like dirt then they are more than justified in doing no more and no less than they are paid.

        Managers think they are the big cheese because they live in an Ivory Tower where everyone tells them the BS is really fine fertilizer.

  4. According to Aspire Aviation “[…], it is believed that an A330-300neo will still be 10-12% behind the 787-10 which will have a 25% lower block fuel burn than the A330-300 on a 3,000nm mission with 85% annual winds.”

    Are these figures only correct for US weather?

    “The Times of India” cited an Air India senior official:
    “It was supposed to be 17% more fuel efficient than the Airbus A-330 but has so far been only 13%-14%.”

    Can anybody explain how these figures fit together?

    • Hasn’t Air India got overweight airplanes?
      The first 100+ 787-8’s are overweight. That would explain the 3-4% delta between promised and real fuel burn.

    • AI talks about a 787-8, the 787-10 will be more fuel efficient in relation (fuel burn per seat). So you try to compare apples and oranges 😉

      Why the A330neo is better on shorter range can be deducted easily.
      It seems the Neo will be lighter but less fuel efficiant. So the Neo would have to load more fuel than a 787-10 for the same route. At some range the Neo will loose its weight advantage because of that.
      If “85% annual winds” means headwinds that effectivly increases the range flown (normalised against a sector without winds).

    • Same as the infamous 737 – A320 comparisons by Tinseth.

      Inventing the 737 was 7% better then the A320 to start with & pick up from there.

      The 787 is 10-12 % better then the A330 say several sources.

      An A330 NEO can perhaps shave 13-15% of a A330. GE says so.

      Oops. Better quickly up the 787 vs A330 figures from 10-12% then..

      Moving the goal posts I call it. Predicted it a few weeks ago.

  5. “It’s a bit of wonderment that Boeing finds it necessary to incentivize workers to do their jobs correctly, providing a bonus that is greater than those given to the Everett workers who have to fix the poor workmanship of Charleston. Typically, bonuses are given to workers for going above-and-beyond, not for merely doing what they are supposed to do in the first place.”

    In my opinion, this statement mischaracterizes both what Boeing is trying to accomplish by offering the incentives and the work ethic of the Charleston employees. It also needlessly fuels the too often mindless Everett vs. Charleston (union vs. non-union) debate.

    We all know that the mid-fuselage sections for ALL 787’s are assembled in Charelston, and that those stuffed sections are then sent to both the FAL in Everett AND the FAL in Charleston. So it would be more accurate, but not completely true, to say that the FAL workers (both in Charleston and Everett) have to fix the poor workmanship of the Charleston mid-fuselage workers. Both FAL’s are having to deal with the traveled work.

    From the Seattle Times article, the real issue appears to be that there are not enough workers on the mid-fuselage assembly line to complete all the tasks necessary to support the current rate. Boeing management, in their infinite wisdom, decided to streamline their workforce in Charleston, shortly after achieving an unprecedented 10/month rate, and right before the introduction of the 787-9 with its longer mid-fuselage section. While there are some issues, like the reported nicked wiring, that I would consider a true workmanship issue, incomplete tasks are not the same as poorly completed tasks, in both cause and consequence. Obviously they both need to be dealt with, but in my experience it is much easier to finish an incomplete job, then to correct and redo a poorly completed one. For this, one need look no further than the early 787-8 fastener fiasco.

    Thus, in my view, Boeing is giving an incentive to their Charleston workers not only to do their jobs correctly, but to do them correctly faster than they’ve ever done them before and with fewer workers than they’ve had before. This classifies as above-and-beyond. These incentives and the re-hiring of contract workers are a tacit admission by Boeing management that they screwed up by placing their Charleston workers in an impossible situation.

  6. Dominic Gates’ article said “…if the workers can get the jobs behind schedule at the entire Boeing South Carolina site below 3,500 by April 30, engineers and managers will get a flat $2,500 and mechanics will get a bonus equal to 8 percent of last year’s pay….”
    My first thought upon reading this was, why post a flat figure for one group but a percentage for the other group? This feels like double-speak, carefully phrased for propaganda effect … to either present a slant or hide a problematic detail. So, on the assumption everyone gets roughly 8% (if they meet the targets), some quick math says $2.5K is 8% of ~$30K.

    Hmmm. If SC mechanics were earning say $60K/yr (which, honestly, is on the low end of what I would expect these days, given what I know about their work and their final work product), ‘8%’ would be a $4.8K bonus. Poor Boeing could boast about these bigger bonuses, but would do so while pissing off their engineers and managers. At the other extreme, if the race to the pay-bottom is so extreme that SC mechanics are earning say $20K/yr, well, ‘8%’ sounds a lot better than ‘$1.6K’.

    So, what is the missing piece of data? When Boeing says ‘8%’ of last year’s pay for SC mechanics, what (on average) is/was that ‘pay’, and how does it compare with what Boeing is paying their clean-up crews at KPAE? (no, not the janitors, the mechanics!)

    • I think the % for the mechanics is because the pay scales vary dramatically so a flat rate wouldn’t be appropriate. I believe the $2,500 management bonus is an indication that it is the mechanics and not the management where the bottle necks are occurring and is therefore comparatively less as a percentage.

  7. For what it’s worth, glassdoor.com reviews of jobs at Boeing in Charleston have a perennial theme of poor management. The reviews of jobs in Seattle don’t have that theme, which suggests management there is not too bad. I am talking about the “my boss” and the “his boss” levels, not the McNerney level.

  8. With this bonus scheme, Boeing implies workers in Charleston simply don’t work hard enough, and that a little extra sweat and elbow grease can put the beans in the jar.

    That’s pretty deceptive, and as well it encourages the taking of short cuts and the violation of procedures.

    By doing this, Boeing digs in it’s heels on it’s overly lean production system, which in many ways is penny wise and pound foolish.

    • I believe you have hit it on the head. Rather than light fires under the backsides of the lethargic/incompetent crew, Boeing enables and rewards bad behavior with bonuses. What SC needs is structure and better oversight.

  9. You know, I finally figured out what’s so wrong with the IAM and SPEEA Unions: why they are such an anachronism in today’s fast-paced, cut-throat corporate environment. It’s their attitude – and it needs fixing.

    You see, the Boeing Unions have this old-fashioned belief that basically goes like this: “If we work hard, and do a good job with pride, and save the companies bacon from the fire, then maybe we will get a raise – or at least we won’t get our benefits stripped from us”. This Union belief has led to all kinds of bad attitudes – like actually caring about the company and its financial success and doing whatever it takes to achieve the company’s goals – even when they get crapped on. As a result, the company obviously figures that the Union guys are just a bunch of stupid animals that are going to work hard no matter what – like when a bunch of greyhounds chase a fake rabbit for no reason other than – it’s “instinct” and its ‘fun”.

    And the Unions wonder why they don’t get a raise…or why they get their benefits taken away?

    Now…I’m pretty sure the guys down South have accidently figured it out by now – and they probably can’t believe it either. Like the Union guys in Seattle, I bet most of them had “Bad Attitudes”, too even though they were not near as experienced or productive as their Seattle brothers. I’m sure they were trying their best.

    And make no mistake – the Seattle guys and the South Carolina Guys are Brothers – or they need to become Brothers very quickly. The powers that be always giggle anytime the workers fight; and after they giggle they run away with all the money.

    • IMHO the Seattle IAM thinks that they are entitled to a higher salary, which they kinda are. Skilled vs unskilled is a no brainer. But where they the union go a wry is thinking they have entitlement. Since it’s the accounting department that man’s the helm, they’ll chose the cheapest alternative. Look how they hung billion dollar carrots over the heads of salivating states wanting the work and the jobs from it to then go back to a bargaining table they said they wouldn’t go back to. Come on. Say what you want. I seriously doubt Boeing had a real serious and concrete plan to build outside of Washington. Who knows.

      757RS. I can’t remember who said it but I agree that the MAX and NEOS of the flying world can’t match the current 752/3 on it’s range and short takeoff capabilities. The 737 is a 60 year old old design in need of a clean sheet. Cue the ring girl with the 757RS poster.

  10. Forgive my ignorance here but am puzzled by the geographic distribution of the B757 and therefore the implications for any replacement. Why are they now so concentrated, both as passenger and freight a/c in the US? Is it something to do with unusual route lengths?

  11. In order to hold the “global average temperature”, weather is extremely warm here in continental Europe.

    • Dutch skaters won a shocking numbers of skating medals in Sochi but we have still not seen any outdoor ice this winter and its Feb 21 /14C. Unique I hope..

  12. I appreciate the icing up photo! One of your regular readers lives on Lake Superior, and we’re having a good old fashion winter here. Lake Superior used to freeze over (approx) every ten years. This type of ice hasn’t been around in maybe thirty years.

  13. Are airlines still waiting for these parked 787s? They have been there so many years and are overweight. Lately the planes sitting outside the mod center at KPAE have their liveries stripped. Even after they are fixed they will have to give them away. Could they possibly get scrapped on the quiet?

    • well- IMHO the BA bored of directionless decided that since they lose money on every 787 delivered so far, what with bucu onsite handholding, etc, they will somehow quietly fly them to a boneyard. After all, by losing money on every plane, the power point rangers have determined they can make it up by volume. . .

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