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Boeing Blog

Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates covers top industry events to bring you the latest news, highlighting how it impacts Boeing and its competitors.

Topic: Boeing

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July 16, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Behind the scenes at Farnborough, Boeing lobbies to save the Ex-Im Bank

Tim Keating, Boeing’s chief political operator in the halls of Congress, this week is frequenting the company chalet at the Farnborough Air Show and the related aviation industry dinners and receptions in central London.

He’s offering reassurance to Boeing’s foreign airline customers, some of whom are worried that the controversy in Congress around the Export-Import Bank could end the financing they need to buy jets. And he’s hosting the many U.S. political delegations here as part of Boeing’s intense lobbying effort to save the bank, whose authority to operate expires in September.

Tim Keating, Boeing senior vice president of Government Operations  (company photo)

Tim Keating, Boeing senior vice president of Government Operations (company photo)

In an interview at the Air Show, Keating sharply blamed the Tea Party movement within the Republican party for the current impasse.

His message to the visiting U.S. politicians is to listen to their own stump speeches, where a constant refrain is: “We want to grow jobs in the U.S. We want to grow manufacturing in the U.S.”

“We are what America should be: manufactured here and sold overseas,” Keating said of Boeing.

He warned that killing the Ex-Im Bank “is a policy that would actually punish companies that choose to build in the United States.”

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Comments | Topics: Airbus, Boeing, Export-Import Bank

July 16, 2014 at 5:53 AM

Farnborough Air Show bans thrilling maneuver as Airbus and Boeing jets aim to impress

787-9 climbs sharply during fly-by on Monday July 14 at Farnborough Air Show. SIMON DAWSON / BLOOMBERG

Boeing 787-9 climbs sharply during fly-by on Monday July 14 at Farnborough Air Show. SIMON DAWSON / BLOOMBERG

On the opening day of the Farnborough Air Show, the Boeing 787-9 did a spectacular touch-and-go in the afternoon flying display, coming down and touching the tarmac as if to land, then powering up and climbing steeply away.

A350 test plane No. 4, Wednesday at Farnborough

A350 test plane No. 4, Wednesday at Farnborough

On the second day, the Air Show authorities banned that maneuver.

“They got red-carded,” said Airbus test pilot Frank Chapman, speaking on a tour of his A350 flight test jet on Wednesday.

He said the airport authority won’t allow either Airbus or Boeing to do it again this week.

“We can all climb steeply,” said Chapman. “What you mustn’t do is turn straight away (on take-off). If the wing hits the ground, it’s over. Their wingtip was 15 feet off the ground. They don’t like you being close to the ground.”

Tuesday, the Boeing communications team here had a decidedly conspiratorial explanation: That Airbus had whispered to the Air Show authorities and spiked such displays so as not to be shown up.

Not so, according to Chapman. “We can do the same,” he said.

(See Monday’s 787-9 flying display on YouTube. The touch-and-go starts at 1:10)

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Comments | Topics: 787, A350, Airbus

July 15, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Norwegian’s 787s “going better and better”

Bjorn Kjos, chief executive of an airline that had a nightmare experience with its first two 787s last year, could now moonlight as a salesman for the Dreamliner.

Bjorn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian, with his Skytrax award at Farnborough

Bjorn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian, with his Skytrax award at Farnborough

Norwegian Air, his new international low-cost carrier, now has a fleet of seven Dreamliners that he’s flying on very long routes such as London to Bangkok and back. With minimal down time at each end, that’s up to 18 hours flying in a day.

“The Dreamliner is the first airplane built to fly such high utilization. It’s performing to it,” said Kjos. “It’s going better and better actually.”

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Comments | Topics: 787, A330neo, Boeing

July 15, 2014 at 3:42 AM

Air Show: 777X passenger cabin to mirror 787 comfort features

Boeing rendering of 777X interior

Boeing rendering of 777X interior

The forthcoming 777X large widebody jet will have an interior cabin with the same pleasant passenger features that have been a hit on the 787 Dreamliner: large windows, less dry air, and a lower cabin altitude pressurization.

All those features were introduced with the Dreamliner and touted as an advantage of the carbon fiber composite that’s used to make the fuselage. That material is stronger and lighter than aluminum and doesn’t corrode when the surface is wet.

The 777X will have a traditional aluminum fuselage, yet it will have the same features,

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July 14, 2014 at 7:24 AM

UPDATED: Boeing says new robotic system for building 777X fuselage is nearly ready

At the Farnborough Air Show Monday, Boeing said the secretive automation process it’s been developing over more than a year for building the fuselage of the  777, which has been undergoing testing inside a facility in Anacortes, is in the final phase of testing and production readiness.

Boeing said the 777X fuselage, which will be assembled in a new building now under construction in Everett, “will be built using automated, guided robots that will fasten the panels of the fuselage together, drilling and filling the more than approximately 60,000 fasteners that are today installed by hand.”

Boeing spokeswoman Elizabeth Fischtziur said the new robotic system “will be implemented first on today’s 777″ and once its high rate production capabilities are validated it “is expected to be baseline to 777X fuselage production.”

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Comments | Topics: 777X, Boeing, Everett

July 14, 2014 at 6:35 AM

UPDATED: Airbus launches A330neo and firmly answers the looming strategic questions

On the first day of the Farnborough Air Show Monday, Airbus answered all the big strategic questions hanging over its widebody jet line-up.

As expected, the European jetmaker launched a new model of its A330 mid-size widebody jet, the A330neo. Predictably, sales chief John Leahy made confident claims that it will best Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

Airbus CEO Fabric Bregier and sales chief John Leahy talk with airplane leasing guru Steve udvar-Hazy, now launch customer for the A330neo

Airbus CEO Fabric Bregier and sales chief John Leahy talk with airplane leasing guru Steve udvar-Hazy, now launch customer for the A330neo

More surprisingly, Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier at the press conference here gave clear, firm answers to the other two outstanding strategic issues.

Airbus’s widebody jet line-up, like Boeing’s, is now firmly set.

Yes to an A330neo, with an investment of between $1.4 billion and $2.7 billion. Consequently, the similar-sized A350-800 model that wasn’t selling will fade away.

In addition, Bregier gave a definite no to any near-term re-engining of the A380 superjumbo, which Gulf carrier Emirates had requested.

And more importantly for the rivalry with Boeing, Bregier said Airbus will not launch a new larger widebody with 400+ seats to go head-to-head with the 777-9X.

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Comments | Topics: 777X, 787, A330neo

July 13, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Farnborough 2014: Boeing chief talks A330neo, Ex-Im Bank and a new MAX

On the eve of the Farnborough Air Show in London, Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief Ray Conner announced a new high-density version of the forthcoming 737 MAX family, something long requested by leading 737 customer Ryanair.

He also talked down the threat from the expected announcement by Airbus Monday that it will launch an update of its A330 mid-size twinjet with new fuel-efficient engines.

And Conner flatly rejected any compromise in the current political controversy over the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

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Comments | Topics: 737 MAX, A330neo, Airbus

July 12, 2014 at 10:00 PM

Seattle Times preview of the Farnborough Air Show 2014

From today’s Seattle Times front page:

When the Farnborough Air Show opens Monday, “The eyes of the aviation world are on Airbus,” said Richard Aboulafia.

The European jetmaker is building airplanes at record rates and has been executing its new programs brilliantly. Unlike the 787, its A350 is on schedule. And it just rolled out its first narrowbody A320neo, at least a year ahead of Boeing’s 737 MAX.

Still, in London its executives face nagging decisions about their future widebody jet strategy.

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July 11, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Ahead of Farnborough, Boeing touts progress in 787 Dreamliner production

Ahead of the Air Show, Boeing sought to demonstrate that its widebody jet plant in Everett is firing on all cylinders.

Last Tuesday, Pat Shanahan, Boeing senior vice president in charge of airplane programs, gave photographer Mike Siegel and me a guided tour of the 787 assembly lines in Everett.

Shanahan described remarkable progress in Dreamliner production since the years of problems and delays when, he said, “We were really struggling to get out of the ditch.”

A Machinist screws fasteners onto the underside of a Dreamliner 787 wing at the 787 final assembly factory in Everett. Photo: Mike Siegel

A Machinist screws fasteners onto the underside of a Dreamliner 787 wing at the 787 final assembly factory in Everett. Photo: Mike Siegel

He also cited specific improvement this year in the work coming to Everett out of South Carolina.

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