737-based Wedgetail to be assembled in UK, Defence official says

False starts

Boeing previously considered locating a 737 final assembly line overseas, believed at one point to be in China.

A few years ago, Boeing quietly queried its touch labor union, the IAM 751, to gauge reaction if in boosting the production rate of the 737 to 70/mo, with one line being located overseas, would the union object?

Of course it did. And nothing more came of the idea.

Today, Boeing has figured out how to produce 70 737s a month in the existing Renton plant. It can’t build the airplane fast enough to meet demand. But the supply chain is having a hard time keeping up at 52/mo, even as it prepares for 57/mo next July.

Until now, union opposition and concerns over IP theft has dissuaded Boeing from putting an FAL overseas.

With the opening of a components production plant in the UK, a significant step has been made toward expanding its footprint in the UK. (See also here.)

It’s unknown at this writing if the IAM 751 and its engineers’ union, SPEEA, were aware of the Wedgetail plan in advance or what the reaction is. LNC has made inquiries.

Implications for NMA

Implications for Washington State’s desire to locate the FAL for the Boeing NMA (797) here could be ominous.

It was already assumed that Boeing will compete the location for the FAL between states. Washington, South Carolina, Texas and Utah are believed by some to be the leading contenders in a bake-off.

But a wild card might be locating an FAL in Brazil, following the expected approval of a joint venture between Boeing and Embraer Commercial Airplanes.

While it would seem unlikely that the only FAL would be sited in Brazil, if there is enough demand for two, the new company (dubbed Newco for now) could be in the running for an FAL.

It’s entirely conceivable Washington State could be left out in the cold.

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