Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates covers top industry events to bring you the latest news, highlighting how it impacts Boeing and its competitors.
December 9, 2013 at 1:15 PM
The Greensboro and Winston-Salem area in North Carolina, served by Piedmont Triad International Airport, is among the suitors for Boeing’s 777X manufacturing and assembly facilities, according to a local business newspaper.
The Triad Business Journal reports on its website Monday that the airport authority’s chairman says local officials “have been working night and day on a proposal for a large aircraft manufacturer.”
Responses to Boeing’s wish list are due Tuesday. The company has sent copies of its request for proposals to 15 sites. That count likely includes multiple locations in some states like North Carolina, where Charlotte officials have also made public their interest.
The Piedmont Triad airport has up to 1,000 acres of land available for new tenants, and in 2014 will build a taxiway connecting its 10,000-foot main runway to hundreds of additional acres and a second, 9,000-foot runway, the Triad paper reports.
December 3, 2013 at 5:34 PM
Missouri is getting a lot of ink this week over the special session Gov. Jay Nixon has called to quickly pass an incentive package designed to draw in Boeing’s 777X production.
Interestingly, the state’s leading newspapers are editorializing against the rush to come up with an enticing offer.
Tuesday the St. Louis Post-Dispatch disparaged the governor’s approach as “legalized bribery”:
What makes the attempt to lure Boeing so disconcerting, even while understanding the potential positive impact of the high-paying manufacturing jobs, is the speed and secrecy that highlight the race to win this beauty contest. Supporters of the governor’s proposal to hand over potentially billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies say that if Missouri and St. Louis don’t do it, another state will, and that’s true. … There has to be a better way.
A day earlier, it was the Kansas City Star pouring cold water on the state’s hopes: “Missouri lawmakers should not wear themselves out dancing too hard to Boeing’s tune,” it suggested, later adding, “Boeing’s scouting expedition reveals a company with boundless demands and limited loyalties. Today’s lucky suitor could easily turn out to be tomorrow’s jilted castoff.”
The incentives proposed in Missouri — estimated to max out at $1.7 billion over some 20 years — pale, in sheer dollar terms, next to the $8.7 billion package of future tax breaks enacted here in Washington.
The Show Me state is also living up to its name with a stepping-stone feature in the package: the incentives get richer in four stages as employment grows from 2,000 workers to 8,000.
November 29, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon today called a special session of the Show Me State’s General Assembly to craft incentives to attract production of Boeing’s next-generation 777X aircraft.
“Legislative action is necessary in order for Missouri to put forward a competitive proposal,” the governor said in a statement.
The governor’s office said the session will convene at 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2.
According to the statement, state responses to Boeing’s request are due by Dec. 10.
Boeing said it was inviting more than a dozen states to submit proposals for the 777X assembly plant and a wing fabrication facility after the Puget Sound area’s Machinists union voted by 2-to-1 to reject a long-term contract that paired substantial cuts to members’ benefits and pay scale with an assurance the plane would be built here.
Nixon is seeking legislation adding additional capacity of up to $150 million annually for large-scale aerospace projects under four of Missouri’s existing economic development programs.
“It’s important to note that these are the same targeted, fiscally responsible programs that are available to any company creating significant numbers of high-paying, family-supporting jobs,” said Nixon. “This legislation will simply give us added capacity to compete for this type of massive aerospace project, while maintaining existing accountability measures and ensuring a positive return for taxpayers. Aerospace companies like Boeing will have to invest and create jobs in order to earn these benefits.”
The state Legislature has been divided in recent years on using tax credits to bolster the state’s aerospace industry, notes St. Louis Public Radio:
“In 2009 they approved $240 million in incentives in a failed attempt to lure Bombardier Aerospace to Kansas City to build aircraft there. Then in 2011, disagreements between House and Senate Republicans contributed to the failure to pass a $360 million incentives package to turn Lambert Airport in St. Louis into an international air cargo hub. A scaled-back version of the so-called”Aerotropolis” proposal failed during the Show-Me State’s last special session later that year.”
The governor also wants to create a consortium of area community colleges “to train and certify thousands of additional graduates in aerospace and advanced manufacturing areas to grow a pipeline of highly-skilled workers for this project and others in this sector,” the statement said.
November 22, 2013 at 4:59 PM
Missouri officials met with Boeing representatives Thursday in a session Gov. Jay Nixon called productive.
The Associated Press reports Nixon said Friday that production of the 777X would be a “massive shot in the arm” for Missouri’s economy.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blount likewise touted Missouri’s capabilities in a statement:
“The St. Louis region is home to a skilled workforce with deep roots in the aviation industry and is an ideal production site for Boeing’s new 777x aircraft project. I’m pleased that Boeing is considering St. Louis as a top contender for this initiative.”
Boeing does have about 15,000 workers in the St. Louis area, the headquarters of its defense unit. But it doesn’t build any major components for its civilian aircraft there.
The company hasn’t said where it may locate production of the 777X if it doesn’t wind up in Everett. But The Seattle Times reported in early November that sources close to the company said an internal study identified Long Beach, Calif.; Salt Lake City; and Huntsville, Ala., as leading candidates.
November 20, 2013 at 11:41 AM
What is the Washington Aerospace Partnership trying to tell us in that full-page ad placed in today’s Seattle Times? One unfortunate thing it tells us is that whichever marketing firm made the ad doesn’t know its airplanes.
The state has already passed $8.7 billion in tax breaks to persuade Boeing to locate production of the 777X jet here. But of course the machinists union last week rejected the Boeing contract offer that was another part the company’s demands – suddenly opening up the competition to other states.
So the Washington Aerospace Partnership – a group of leaders from business, labor and local government formed to promote the growth of aerospace in Washington state - made a straightforward pitch in the ad:
“Our state is still in the hunt for Boeing’s 777X” so legislators should pass the massive transportation package Boeing wants as yet another incentive.
To illustrate the ad, a photo of a 777 was surely a no-brainer.
But there across the top of the ad, emblazoned with the slogan “The Future of Washington” , is a large photo of … an Airbus A319.
Many aviation players around the region, and beyond, must have choked on their morning coffee. Alex Pietsch, director of the Governor’s Aerospace Office, who is in the United Arab Emirates for the Dubai Air Show, sent a message from the Gulf pointing out the slip to the Washington Aerospace Partnership’s Seattle office.
The ad was placed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which is part of the Aerospace Partnership. “It’s an embarrassing, cringe-worthy error,” said Chamber spokeswoman Terri Hiroshima.
November 19, 2013 at 3:25 PM
Gov. Robert Bentley and Alabama officials met with Boeing representatives Tuesday in Birmingham to discuss the possibility of locating the company’s new jet manufacturing plant in Huntsville.
AL.com reported that Bentley told a state business gathering later in the day that Boeing’s emissaries were “very impressed with Alabama.”
“I’m not saying we’re going to get it, but let me tell you they do like Alabama.”
Boeing has said some 777X engineering work will be done in Huntsville, where the company has operated space- and rocket-related facilities for five decades.
“It would be a logical next step for Boeing to bring a portion of its 777X assembly to Huntsville,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, according to Made in Alabama, a website published by the state’s Department of Commerce.
An internal analysis by Boeing that was reported by The Seattle Times before the Nov. 13 Machinists’ vote listed Salt Lake City, Utah; Long Beach, Calif.; and Birmingham as three potential sites if production is not located in Everett.
November 19, 2013 at 8:45 AM
The Middle Eastern airline executives who just ordered a couple hundred 777X jets from Boeing have some advice for the company: Build it in one place, in your own facilities, and don’t rely on a complex international outsourcing system for major pieces like you did with the much-delayed 787.
Emirates CEO Tim Clark, now the plane’s biggest customer, told the Wall Street Journal:
All we said to [Boeing] was, ‘Please don’t do to 777X what you did to the … Don’t do that to us.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Akbar likewise told the Journal that “frankly, we would rather everything was built in one place, and I think Boeing from the 787 experience have learnt a lesson.”
Boeing is currently studying where to build the 777X and its big carbon fiber wing, after Puget Sound-area Machinists rejected a proposed 8-year contract extension that bundled guarantees about building the plane here with substantial cuts in future pay and benefits.
November 17, 2013 at 9:09 AM
Boeing formally launched its 777X in Dubai Sunday with a whopping order led by the “Gulf 3″ — Emirates, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways — as well as Germany’s Lufthansa.
There’s been much commentary about the tug-of-war among potential customers over features and capabilities as Boeing designs the replacement for its best-selling widebody, the 777.
It would be hard to ignore the wishes of Emirates, now the world’s biggest airline, which in Dubai just placed what CNN calls “eye-popping, jaw-dropping deals” for 150 Boeing 777X airliners and 50 Airbus A380s.
The dilemma is that “Emirates wants it all — hot-weather performance, ultimate range going halfway around the world and the highest payloads… For anyone else who buys a plane who isn’t going to need all those performance characteristics, it’s like buying a Ferrari to drive it to the supermarket,” said Robert Mann, an aviation consultant at R.W. Mann & Co.
Industry guru Steve Udvar-Hazy, the master aircraft lessor and currently chairman of Air Lease Corp., cautions in Aviation Week that Boeing has to be “careful” not to give in to too many of the performance and range requirements put forward by the three Persian Gulf carriers.
Boeing Sunday described the 777-9X as seating more than 400 passengers, depending on an airline’s configuration, and having a range of more than 8,200 nautical miles. The 777-8X will seat 350, says Boeing, which promises “an incredible range capability of more than 9,300 nautical miles.”
Hazy tells Aviation Week that “80-85%” of the 777X’s future customers in Europe and Asia are likely to opt for the larger variant and not need the kind of range the -8X will offer.
November 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM
The A380′s sales drought for 2013 could end in the dry deserts of Dubai.
Bloomberg reports that Emirates, the big airlines with a big appetite for long-range planes, is negotiating an order for 50 of the superjumbos from Airbus.
A transaction of that size would be a record for the A380, which was at risk of ending 2013 without a deal, Bloomberg reports.
November 15, 2013 at 4:57 PM
As the aerospace industry readies for the biennial Dubai Air Show, here’s why Emirates and the other Middle Eastern airlines have become such big global players: They are “young, growing fast…. (and) have an appetite for big, expensive aircraft,” Business Insider writes in this story. Boeing expects to rack up some big orders and formally launch its 777X, which has been the focus of so much turmoil here at home with the Machinists’ contract vote. One thing missing from Boeing’s announcement, given the rejected contract, will be any details on where it will build the successor to the current 777.