Technology StocksBoeing keeps setting new highs! When will it split?

Previous 10 Next 10 
From: Eric4/1/2014 9:44:15 AM
   of 3362
Page modified March 31, 2014 at 10:53 PM

Boeing blames pilots for Asiana 777 crash; airline faults software, too

Boeing on Monday firmly blamed the pilots for last year’s crash of an Asiana Airlines 777 in San Francisco, telling the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that the crash “would have been avoided had the flight crew followed procedures.

By Dominic Gates

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

National Transportation Safety Board / Getty Images

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator examines debris at the Asiana Airlines crash site last July.

Boeing on Monday firmly blamed the pilots for last year’s crash of an Asiana Airlines 777 in San Francisco, telling the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that the crash “would have been avoided had the flight crew followed procedures.”“This accident occurred due to the flight crew’s failure to monitor and control airspeed, thrust level and glide path,” Boeing said in a document submitted for the agency’s investigation of last July’s crash in which three passengers died.

Asiana partly agreed with Boeing in its own submission to the NTSB, but it also found fault with the design of the jet’s automated flight controls.

The South Korean carrier wrote that “the probable cause of this accident was the flight crew’s failure to monitor and maintain a minimum safe airspeed during a final approach.”

However, its report cites factors it says contributed to the crash, including the logic built into the plane’s autothrottle software.

Boeing and Asiana agree that as the pilots came in to land, they expected the autothrottle to automatically supply engine thrust to maintain a minimum airspeed. In fact, in the flight mode they had engaged, the onus was on them to maintain the speed.

Asiana also faulted the cockpit alerting systems as providing “inadequate warning” that the speed had dropped dangerously low.

The discrepancy between the airline and the jet-maker pivots around Boeing’s flight-control design philosophy, cited in its submission as requiring “the pilot always has the final authority over any automation system.”

In an earlier NTSB hearing in December, Boeing staunchly defended this automation-control design.

The issue will now come under intense NTSB scrutiny as the agency does its final report on the July 6 crash.

Because the airport’s instrument-landing system was out of service that day due to construction, pilots had no digital glide path in the sky to follow. They had to manually land planes.

But Asiana Flight 214 from Seoul, with 307 people aboard, came in too low and, traveling at 120 mph, clipped the seawall short of the runway. The main landing gear and the tail of the big jet sheared off.

Six people were thrown from the back of the jet when the tail detached. Three of them died. These were passengers in a rear row of seats; none was wearing a seat belt.

The other three, who were seriously injured, were flight attendants strapped into their seats at the rear of the plane for the landing.

Meanwhile, the rest of the plane slid along the ground, bounced, spun 330 degrees and hit the ground again.

The passenger cabin remained largely intact, enabling the remaining passengers and crew to survive.

As the plane came to a stop, the right engine caught fire. Everyone was evacuated on slides before the fire spread to the passenger cabin and burned through the fuselage.

The twin accounts by Boeing and Asiana largely agree on the events leading up to that deadly conclusion.

While approaching the airport, at about 1,600 feet, the pilot apparently accidentally selected an automated mode called Flight Level Change, which directed the autopilot to climb to a higher level.

To correct this error and cancel the climb, the crew disconnected the autopilot and manually pulled the throttles back to idle.

Boeing’s design philosophy interpreted this action as a manual override of the autothrottle by the crew.

In other situations, for example cruising at 35,000 feet, the autothrottle will automatically come alive and increase thrust if the airspeed falls too low.

But at that moment on Flight 214, with the assumption that the pilot had taken control of thrust, the Boeing control logic transitioned the autothrottle to hold mode, meaning it was ready to adjust the thrust again only if commanded to do so by the pilot’s actions.

At this point, the autothrottle had ceded control to the pilots, but the crew had lost touch with what was happening.

With the engines at idle and the autothrottle on hold, the crew didn’t monitor the jet’s speed.

Doug Rice, a veteran commercial-airline pilot and a board member of the California Pilots Association, said foreign flight crews often lack manual flying experience.

He believes the Asiana pilots were unable to cope that day with the fact that the instrument-landing equipment was out.

“It wasn’t like it was dangerous,” Rice said. “It was a beautiful day. And they didn’t fly the airplane.

“They didn’t miss their touchdown target by a little bit,” he added. “They missed by a third of a mile.”

In the December NTSB hearing, John Cashman, the test pilot who flew the 777 maiden flight in 1994, defended Boeing’s flight-control logic.

“It goes back to that original philosophy: not changing modes in an autopilot that the pilot doesn’t command,” Cashman said.

He said the pilot has to have the authority, should he see oncoming traffic or some other reason to change course, to fully control the airplane.

Asiana mentions in its submission that this precise situation arose during a test flight of a 787 Dreamliner, which has the same flight-control logic.

In that instance, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test pilot questioned the fact that the autothrottle didn’t wake up automatically when the speed dropped.

But an FAA manager at the December hearing testified that after discussions with Boeing “the FAA pilot determined that the fact that the autothrottle did not wake up was not a safety issue.”

Asiana recommends in its submission to the NTSB that Boeing insert more explicit warnings in its flight-crew training manuals about this specific circumstance and also that it should develop stronger alerting features to mitigate any automation “surprise.”

Rice said such steps, rather than changing the logic of Boeing’s flight-control philosophy, is the right response.

“I don’t believe the philosophy needs changed,” said Rice. “We need to make sure the pilots understand the philosophy and they must demonstrate that knowledge during their training.”

The San Francisco crash was the first fatal accident of a 777. The NTSB investigation continues and will eventually produce recommendations.

There appears to be no link to what happened with the missing Malaysian 777 lost in March.

Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or

My comments:

As a pilot and a FAA certified flight instructor for me it's sad to see that both pilots failed to do the simplest primary function... maintaining the correct airspeed at all times, especially during the most critical phase of flight, landing.


Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: Eric4/2/2014 9:42:18 AM
   of 3362
One final voyage for Boeing-built NASA shuttle carrier

The specially modified 747, used to ferry dozens of space shuttles over the decades, is being dismantled for a move to Space Center Houston, where it will be reassembled and go on display..

Smiley N. Pool / Houston Chronicle

Boeing employees work to dismantle the NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at Ellington Field near Houston. The modified 747 is being moved late this month to Space Center Houston, where it will anchor an exhibit.


Houston Chronicle

Steven Ramey is standing inside a Boeing 747 fuel tank, and he’s having the time of his life.

Pointing to where the aircraft’s 50,000-pound wing attaches to the fuselage, Ramey notes where bolts are being removed.

“This is the first time we’ve pulled off a wing,” the Boeing employee says. “It’s great. We get to come in here, like a bunch of kids, tear it apart and then put it back together.”

The wing belongs to NASA 905, a jumbo jet that ferried space shuttles from landing sites in California and New Mexico back to Florida.

Now stationed at Ellington Field near Houston, the aircraft, which is 232 feet long and 63 feet tall, is being disassembled for an 8-mile move in late April to Space Center Houston.

In its current state, the plane is yet another reminder that the shuttle program is now part of history.

An “Aircraft on Ground” team from Boeing is carefully removing parts and the bolts that attach them, and storing them for reassembly. Although the plane will break into nine big pieces for the trip, there are thousands of smaller pieces. Cranes and drills and airplane parts are strewn everywhere.

“One of our biggest logistics problems is keeping track of the parts,” said Ramey, a lead foreman on Boeing’s aviation-services team. “It’s kind of like we are moving a puzzle from one location to another.”

Later this year, Ramey and his team will put the plane back together, a 44-day process that will reverse the work they’re doing. Then the museum will place a space shuttle mock-up — Independence — atop it.

In 2015, both the aircraft and shuttle will open as an interactive, six-story display.

The museum needs about $12 million to move the aircraft and set it up for display, said Jack Moore, a spokesman for the facility. They’ve raised $9 million, including an in-kind donation by Boeing for the work of employees like Ramey.

The crew, most of whom are from Washington state, were eager to tackle this kind of assignment. It’s a happier job than, say, the more typical work of rescuing an aircraft that’s gone off the end of a runway.

“I’ve been in the industry for 20 years and I don’t think anyone in this group had done this before,” said Tom Conant, a team captain for the aviation-services unit.

Even after breaking down the mammoth aircraft, the move by the 1,000-foot trailer convoy will be an arduous, two-night affair.

While the move will be at night to minimize traffic disruptions, it should nonetheless be a public spectacle and there will be viewing locations along the way.

Although it may seem audacious to plant a shuttle atop an aircraft, this combination actually weighed less than a fully booked 747 with passengers and their luggage.

Built in 1970, NASA 905 was one of the first 100 aircraft in Boeing’s 747 line, of which there have now been 1,500 made.

NASA acquired the plane from American Airlines in 1974 and began testing it with space shuttle Enterprise — which never flew into space — in 1977.

In addition to carrying the active orbiters across the country, the aircraft once carried Enterprise to Europe for display in England and at the Paris Air Show.

It was also the aircraft that carried Enterprise and the operational shuttles Discovery and Endeavour to their retirement homes in New York, Dulles Airport near Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, respectively.

NASA 905 made its last flight in December 2012. Now the grounded aircraft has but one trip before a final retirement.

Seattle Times staff contributed to this report.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: JakeStraw5/2/2014 8:53:55 AM
   of 3362
New Boeing jets hold key to more than half of future sales

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (2)

To: JakeStraw who wrote (3262)7/17/2014 10:43:00 AM
From: Eric
   of 3362
Boeing Buoyed at Show With $46 Billion in Day-Three Sales

By Julie Johnsson and Kari Lundgren

Jul 16, 2014 4:09 PM PT

Source: Boeing
777-300 with Qatar Airways livery.

Boeing Co. (BA) escaped Airbus Group NV (AIR)’s shadow on the third day of the Farnborough Air Show as an agreement to sell new 777X jets to Qatar Airways Ltd. drove a $46 billion haul of orders and options.

After dominating Boeing on the first two days of the event, Airbus reported one deal yesterday valued at $1.2 billion at list prices, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries. Boeing’s accord with Qatar Airways, which isn’t a completed order, is for 50 of the -9X version along with 50 options.

The agreement nudged Boeing ahead of Airbus in announced sales at the biggest aviation expo, with about $63 billion to the European planemaker’s $61 billion, the Bloomberg Industries tally showed. Even as the industry events at the show wind down today, the manufacturers will be working to ensure that the pledges to buy planes eventually are booked as firm orders.

“This is potentially useful as a guide, but with backlogs the size of the ones at both Boeing and Airbus, it has little near-term impact,” George Hamlin, a former Airbus executive who now runs Hamlin Transportation Consulting, said this week in an interview about the day-by-day sales jockeying.

Qatar Airways doubled its planned purchases of the upgraded 777 in yesterday’s transaction, after firming up a deal for the same number announced at the Dubai air show in November.

Photographer: Duncan Chard/Bloomberg
A model of Boeing's 777X aircraft, manufactured by Boeing Co.

List Prices

The latest agreement has a list value of $37.7 billion, Chicago-based Boeing said. That would make it the biggest deal yet at this year’s show. Boeing’s backlog was 5,197 planes through June, compared with 5,546 for Toulouse, France-based Airbus, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries.

Airbus took an early advantage this week after introducing an updated version of its A330 wide-body with more fuel-efficient engines. Lessors have dominated the deals, with Qatar Airways and AirAsia Group Bhd among the few airline customers.

“The preponderance of lessor orders at the show is largely a function of timing, we believe,” Gary Liebowitz, a New York-based analyst with Wells Fargo Securities, said in a note to clients this week. Lessors over time will command about quarter of the planemakers’ backlogs and own 45 percent to 50 percent of the global aircraft fleet.

Boeing also pulled in an order from China’s Hainan Airlines Co. (600221) for 50 737MAX-8 single-aisle airliners valued at $5.1 billion at list prices, as well as two current-version 737-700s from Air Algerie SpA. MG Aviation, a leasing company, agreed to buy two 787-9, the mid-sized version of the Dreamliner model.

The 777X will be introduced by the end of the decade to follow the current 777, a long-range wide-body jet that boasts the world’s largest commercial engine. Only one buyer formally expressed interest in Airbus’s competing A350 this week: Air Mauritius Ltd. took options on four planes.

To contact the reporters on this story: Julie Johnsson in Farnborough, England, at; Kari Lundgren in Farnborough, England, at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at; Benedikt Kammel at Stephen West

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

To: JakeStraw who wrote (3262)12/11/2014 8:46:15 AM
From: Eric
   of 3362
Originally published December 10, 2014 at 9:56 AM | Page modified December 10, 2014 at 7:22 PM

With no new orders for huge A380, Airbus raises prospect of ditching jet

Airbus Group raised the prospect of discontinuing its A380 superjumbo as soon as 2018, the first admission that it may have misjudged the market for the double-decker after failing to find a single airline buyer this year.

By Andrea Rothman

Bloomberg News

An Airbus A380 aircraft, operated by Korean Airlines, is displayed at the 2011 Paris Air Show.

Airbus Group raised the prospect of discontinuing its A380 superjumbo as soon as 2018, the first admission that it may have misjudged the market for the double-decker after failing to find a single airline buyer this year.

While Airbus will break even on the plane in 2015, 2016 and 2017, that outlook doesn’t hold for 2018, forcing the company to either offer new engines to make the A380 more attractive or discontinue the program, Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm told investors at a meeting in London on Wednesday.

His comments come as 2014 shapes up to be the first since the double-decker entered service without a new airliner customer. Its only buyer was a leasing company that has yet to line up a single carrier to take any of the 20 planes it ordered. The backlog remains as thin as it is fragile, highlighted by the cancellation of six jets ordered by Japan’s Skymark Airlines, with two close to handover.

In its seventh year in operation, the aircraft that cost $25 billion to develop threatens to become a costly misstep. While popular with travelers, most carriers prefer smaller twin-jet models that are more fuel efficient and can access more airports. Emirates is the only stand-out sponsor, having ordered 140 units, while other airlines have either backed off or are struggling to fill the two decks of the jumbo.

“It’s an excellent plane, but it only works for the right destinations,” said Air France-KLM Group Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac, who aims to cancel the last two of a dozen A380s on order and swap them for smaller models.

Chris Buckley, Airbus’ executive vice president, Europe, Asia and Pacific, said the company has been “at fault” in the way it marketed the aircraft, letting carriers customize the interiors rather than pushing the high-density credentials of the double-decker.

The four-engine widebody airliner is a rarity, after Airbus killed its A340. Boeing said Tuesday that it will cut back production of its 747 jumbo to 16 a year from 18 in 2015.

Emirates President Tim Clark is pushing Airbus to upgrade the A380’s engines to improve fuel efficiency, a move Airbus is resisting because the cost of doing so doesn’t match demand for the plane. Keeping the plane unchanged may mean running down the backlog and eventually shutting down production, now at just under 30 a year, analysts said.

“Airbus will be obliged to make a decision one way or the other in 2015,” said Yan Derocles, an analyst at Oddo Securities in Paris, who estimates an engine upgrade may cost Airbus 2 billion euros ($2.47 billion) because of work required on the wing.

An engine upgrade would take about four years, according to Derocles. The A380 now comes with a choice of engines either by Rolls-Royce Holdings or a joint venture between General Electric and United Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney.

The A380’s lackluster demand contrasts with a boom in orders for other models. Airbus’ best-seller remains its A320 family of single-aisle jets, which it made even more popular by offering new engines. The same concept added momentum to the A330 widebody jet.

The all-new A350, a twin-engine long-range widebody plane made of advanced lightweight materials, has almost 800 orders before its first handover.

Airbus has won orders for 318 of the jumbos. That’s a fraction of the 1,200 it thought airlines needed in that size category when it started marketing in 2000. Emirates accounts for 40 percent of the order book, while airlines including Virgin Atlantic Airways, Hong Kong Aviation and Air Austral are increasingly unlikely to ever take their planes.

Japan and China, originally seen by Airbus as key markets for the A380, have been disappointments, with only one Chinese airline taking five units. Boeing’s 747-8, the only rival, has fared even worse, winning 51 orders from four airlines.

“It’s a pity,” Clark, the Emirates president, said of the A380. “It’s a very big cash generator for us. I just open the doors and the people come.”

Emirates has been successful with its fleet of A380s because the airline uses its Dubai hub as a central point to connect major routes around the globe with just one stop. The A380 is also popular on capacity-restricted airports such as London Heathrow, while many smaller airfields lack the infrastructure to accommodate the plane.

Richard Aboulafia, vice president at the Teal Group and longtime critic of the plane, said the new large twin-engine planes coming to the market will be the death of the A380.

“I don’t think it lasts more than a few years into the next decade,” he said of the A380. “The quicker they let go, the quicker they can devote themselves to marketing efforts on other products.”

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: FUBHO12/12/2014 12:36:03 AM
   of 3362
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed

Suggestion sent shockwaves through the aviation industry

Airbus plunged deeper into crisis yesterday as customers reacted with fury to its suggestion that it may stop producing the fabled A380 super-jumbo in 2018 because of poor sales.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: Eric12/29/2014 7:11:54 AM
   of 3362
Originally published December 28, 2014 at 8:17 PM | Page modified December 28, 2014 at 9:30 PM

Boeing calls tanker prototype’s first flight successful

A prototype for Boeing’s Air Force refueling tanker program made its first flight Sunday, taking off at Everett’s Paine Field and landing at Boeing Field in Seattle three and a half hours later.

Seattle Times business staff

Paul Gordon / Boeing

The first plane in Boeing’s program to develop an Air Force refueling tanker took off just after 9:30 a.m. from Paine Field in Everett.

A prototype for Boeing’s Air Force refueling tanker program made its first flight Sunday, taking off at Everett’s Paine Field and landing at Boeing Field in Seattle three and a half hours later.

The jet, a 767 with modifications that include a 787-style cockpit and extra fuel tanks but no military systems, is one of two planes to be used for initial Federal Aviation Administration certification. Military systems will be installed later.

Two additional planes with the full array of refueling systems will be the first true KC-46 tankers.

Boeing’s Air Force contract calls for delivering 179 tankers for $51 billion, starting with 18 aircraft by 2017.

The Air Force general in charge of the program estimated this month that the initial phase of Boeing’s fixed-price contract will go $1.5 billion over budget.

The first flight came six months behind Boeing’s original schedule. Causes for delay on the initial plane included complex new wiring that was repeatedly removed and reinstalled in order to meet Air Force specifications.

Boeing termed the flight “successful” but provided no details.

The KC-46 design includes an advanced refueling boom that can be hooked up to some jet fighters by an operator sitting at a station behind the tanker’s cockpit. Using a 3D video display, the boom operator will navigate the telescopic tip of the refueling tube toward the receiving fighter’s fuel receptacle.

Other jet fighters will be refueled via drogues extended from refueling pods on the wings and the tail.

Integration of the complex software systems that control this military hardware is a major challenge.

To meet its delivery schedule for 2017, Boeing must hand over the first tanker for the Air Force to test and evaluate in the fall of 2016.

Despite the program glitches this year, Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s vice chairman and chief operating officer, said at a Dec. 3 investor conference that company management is “feeling very good about where that program is at now.”

“We’ve got some of those technical issues behind us,” Muilenburg said. “We’ll now focus on executing the flight-test program under development, and then getting the program into production.”

Material from Seattle Times archives was included in this report.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: Eric12/30/2014 11:34:22 AM
   of 3362
Originally published December 29, 2014 at 8:43 PM | Page modified December 30, 2014 at 8:07 AM

Boeing bullish, dismisses doubters, as record year ends After beating Airbus in jetliner deliveries again this year, Boeing looks to ramp up production at Renton, predicts abundant job openings in the years ahead, and dismisses worries raised by analysts.

By Dominic Gates

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

Machinists Adam Fobes, front, and Andy Lee
insulate ribs in a 737 wing . The company has plans to boost Renton production from 42 planes a month to 52

As a record production year winds down at Boeing, executives shrug off analysts’ worries about a possible downturn and express full confidence in busy years ahead for Washington state’s aerospace industry.

With massive production hikes planned and a wave of worker retirements on the horizon, Pat Shanahan, Boeing vice president in charge of airplane programs, said the company expects to hire 20,000 to 30,000 people here through the end of this decade.

At the same time, Boeing is making big investments in new automation equipment that promises to transform the nature of blue-collar production jobs for those future hires.

Inside the Renton 737 jet assembly plant, where two assembly lines each pump out 21 airplanes every month, construction crews are installing the foundation for a third — the new 737 MAX line that will begin production in 2015.

Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

Gary Laws, a team-lead mechanic who works at Boeing’s 737 wing-assembly facility in Renton, says an automated fastener machine has transformed his job.

On a tour this month, Shanahan predicted the Renton plant won’t miss a beat executing Boeing’s ambitious plan: “Going to 52 a month, introducing the MAX and changing our manufacturing process, all simultaneously.”

In the adjacent 737 wing facility, a shiny, new 25-foot-tall automated wing-panel fastening machine is being put through its paces to gain certification for initial operation in the spring.

Boeing is installing eight of these multimillion-dollar machines — designed and built by Electroimpact of Mukilteo — to make possible its plan for the astonishing Renton ramp-up to 52 jets per month, triple what it was a decade ago.

Meanwhile in Everett, construction is well along on two buildings that will house production of the Boeing 777X wings and fuselage. There, too, new advanced automated systems will pump out ever more airplanes.

Is everything awesome?

Airbus, equally bullish, has ramp-up plans parallel to Boeing’s.

Barry Eccleston, president of Airbus Americas, said he sees no waning of the prolonged aviation boom.

“We’re not seeing any weakness in the order book or any slowdown in the ordering rate,” Eccleston said.

The way both prime manufacturers paint a glowing picture of the industry’s prospects was lampooned at an industry conference earlier this year by Adam Pilarski, a respected industry veteran and senior vice president with consulting firm Avitas, who started his presentation by playing a “Lego Movie” song: “Everything is Awesome.”

“That’s exactly how Boeing feels,” Pilarski said in a year-end interview. “But airplane financiers respond: ‘What are you talking about?’?”

Wall Street analysts have repeatedly warned that production rates for the Airbus A330 and for Boeing’s 777 may need to be cut back severely before the end of the decade if the plane builders can’t find customers for the last of their current models as major upgrades are readied.

At the Airbus investor conference in London this month, executives presented slides showing the worst-case scenario of having to drop A330 production from 10 jets per month today to six per month for a couple of years.

That’s possible because Airbus has lots of empty delivery slots for the current model in the two years before it introduces a new A330neo in 2018.

A bridge to 777X

Boeing faces a similar issue with its star widebody jet, the 777, produced at a rate of 100 per year in Everett. The 777X, a major upgrade, is due in 2020.

Over the next six years, Boeing needs to win about 350 new orders for the current 777 to keep production humming until the 777X arrives.

In addition to these model-transition issues, Pilarski has a broader concern: “a reasonable chance of increased cancellations and deferrals” after years of airlines ordering more planes than the market requires.

This month, Air France-KLM management said it will defer five 777s due to be delivered in 2015 and 2016.

Pilarski puts the deferral down to “double-counting” of orders, meaning that legacy European flag carriers like Air France and the big new Middle Eastern carriers have all ordered planes that will compete with each other for passenger traffic.

In June, German flag carrier Lufthansa warned of an excess of airplanes on its long-haul routes due to “strong capacity growth by state-owned Gulf carriers.”

In Asia too, Pilarski said, low-cost startups and more established airlines have separately ordered hundreds of jets to chase the same passengers.

The combined order book of jets for the newcomer carriers and the older carriers is simply too many airplanes, he said.

“It’s all for the same traffic,” said Pilarski. “That cannot continue.”

While acknowledging that Boeing’s business is booming right now, he puts the chances of a production downturn by 2020 at 50-50.

“If I were Boeing, I’d be happy,” Pilarksi said. “But there may be some dark clouds on the horizon.”

Boeing executives brush aside such talk.

Vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth agreed that some legacy European flag carriers indeed find themselves “at a crossroads” because of competition from the Gulf carriers. But he said the company’s order book is so large and diverse — a backlog of more than 5,700 airplanes — that individual deferrals have minimal impact.

John Wojick, sales chief at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, insisted Boeing won’t have to “significantly change” the current 777 production rate.

Who’s No. 1?

Such optimism is backed by Boeing’s stellar manufacturing and sales performance in 2014.

“This year, Boeing is probably going to outdeliver Airbus in single-aisle jets for the first time since 2002, and we’re going to smash them on widebodies,” Wojick said. “It’s not even close.”

It’s true that by the end of this month, Boeing will have eclipsed Airbus in the number of airplanes delivered in 2014.

Heading to yet another all-time-high production year from local factories — and for the first time with significant added help from Boeing South Carolina — Boeing will beat Airbus in deliveries of larger widebody jets by a wide margin.

At the end of November, the U.S. jet maker had delivered 89 more widebody jets than Airbus this year.

According to Uresh Sheth’s blog that tracks 787 production, just before Christmas Boeing had delivered 108 Dreamliners this year, 31 of those built in South Carolina and 77 in Everett.

And as Wojick indicated, Boeing might close 2014 by building more narrowbody jets than Airbus — something it hasn’t achieved in a dozen years.

As of the end of November, Boeing had delivered 440 of its single-aisle 737s, compared with Airbus’s 436 of the rival A320.

This will be Boeing’s third consecutive year as the world’s leader in commercial jet manufacturing, after nine straight years of Airbus building more jets.

“We worked extremely hard ... to get back to being Number One in aviation,” said Wojick.

While Boeing wins big on production, the 2014 sales race is a closer call.

In early December, Boeing held a healthy lead in new orders, with 1,274 planes sold net of cancellations, to 1,094 planes for its European rival.

Airbus sales chief John Leahy could turn that around if he firms up some previously announced commitments in his typical year-end order rush.

But even then, Boeing will almost certainly come out ahead in the total value of 2014 sales, since a greater share of its new orders are expensive widebody jets.

Airplane strategy

Still, Airbus can point to significant strategic progress in 2014.

In the smaller-airplane segment, its A320neo family of jets continues to outsell Boeing’s 737 MAX family.

Eccleston said the Airbus advantage there is primarily due to its largest model, the A321neo, outselling the largest Boeing model, the 737 MAX 9.

Many analysts see the A321neo as the superior plane in this specific matchup. It carries more passengers and has better takeoff performance.

Boeing’s Wojick insisted that the vast majority of sales will go to the respective medium-sized variants — the 737 MAX 8 and the A320neo — and said Boeing wouldn’t be planning to build 52 jets a month if not totally confident in the MAX.

“This race has a long way to go,” said Wojick.

In large widebody jets, Boeing has been dominant for years. But in 2014, Airbus delivered its first A350 and launched the A330neo, key moves in challenging Boeing’s dominance.

Last month, Delta ordered 25 Airbus A330-900neos for its transatlantic routes, a strong validation of Eccleston’s argument that the ultra-long-range 787 is “too much airplane” for such medium-range routes.

Pilarski said the cost-effective A330neo — an aircraft with an older design but new engines — has the potential to sell close to 1,000 units.

However, Airbus appears to have a problem with its largest A350, the A350-1000 model, designed to compete with the 777.

Though that model has sold poorly, Eccleston insisted that Airbus has no plans to revamp or stretch it.

That’s welcome news for Boeing and its 777X.

Boeing workforce

For Boeing, 2014 began with intense labor acrimony over the eight-year 777X contract extension that froze the pensions of workers in the Machinists union.

Management later announced the company would move thousands of engineering and defense jobs out of state, heightening the animosity.

Many of those job transfers haven’t happened yet. But through November, Boeing employment in the state dipped to 81,099, a drop of just over 900 jobs.

In addition to cuts through attrition, Boeing said 236 employees transferred to California as engineering support work was moved, and 410 others were laid off.

One consequence of the recent labor strife is likely to be a wave of retirements in coming years, especially at the end of 2018 — when the particularly generous 401(k) matches in the first two years of the 777X contract run out.

For all the hiring that Shanahan promises is ahead, plans to massively increase automation probably mean that not all of those retirees will be replaced.

By the end of the decade, there may be fewer Boeing blue-collar workers in Washington state than there are today, and the work they do could be very different.

Gary Laws, 40, who operates an automated fastener machine in the 737 wing-assembly facility in Renton, offers a glimpse at the shifting nature of manual work at Boeing.

Laws described how the automation already in place has made his job dramatically easier and better since he joined Boeing 19 years ago.

Back then, he said, the wing panels were held in huge fixtures several stories high, and most of the drilling and riveting was done by hand — work that was very hard on the body.

Today he sits at an operating console, deciding which parts are loaded and when, continuously monitoring the machine and the tasks that it performs.

When a drill bit breaks in the machine, he’s alert to the change in sound.

Laws is proud of his role in the extraordinary increase in the Renton site’s productivity.

Fueling the remarkable 737 rate increases, he and his workmates constantly come up with ways to sequence the work more efficiently.

He’s no longer paid to punch rivets.

“I’m paid to think and for my troubleshooting skills,” Laws said.

“I can wear a nice shirt to work.”

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: Eric1/13/2015 5:19:04 PM
   of 3362
Originally published January 13, 2015 at 7:56 AM | Page modified January 13, 2015 at 12:57 PM

Airbus’ 2014 sales tally shows Boeing is still No. 1

Boeing topped Airbus in 2014 airplane deliveries, holding onto its claim as the world’s No. 1 airplane maker. And though Airbus sold more jets, Boeing’s sales have a higher total dollar value.

By Dominic Gates

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

European jet maker Airbus released its final 2014 delivery and order data in France early Tuesday, showing Boeing — as expected — retains its claim to the title of the world’s No. 1 airplane maker.

However, in the latest strategic chess move designed to stake out a competitive advantage in the future, Airbus also formally launched a new longer-range version of its A321neo, threatening sales of the 737 MAX 9.

Boeing delivered substantially more airplanes than Airbus in 2014, rolling out 723 airplanes to 629 from its European rival.

For the third year running, Airbus sold slightly more jets, with 1,456 net orders last year to 1,432 for Boeing.

However, Boeing’s 2014 sales are skewed toward bigger, more expensive airplanes and so have a total dollar value about 45 percent higher than Airbus‘s sales.

Airbus ended the year with 135 net new orders for widebody jets compared with Boeing’s 328.

In terms of list prices — which are much higher than prices actually paid — Boeing’s 2014 net sales were worth $233 billion while Airbus’s total net sales were valued at $175 billion.

Based on real market pricing estimates by aircraft valuation firm Avitas, Boeing's 2014 net orders are valued at about $115 billion, while Airbus’s are valued at about $79 billion.

In a news conference in Toulouse, France, Airbus chief Fabrice Brégier said 2014 was “an excellent year.”

“The teams in Airbus not only delivered on, but exceeded their targets and commitments,” Bregier said.

Boeing, which announced its year-end sales and delivery data a week ago, issued a press release savoring its claim to be “the world’s largest airplane manufacturer.”

“What the Boeing team achieved in 2014 is truly unprecedented, especially in the face of fierce competition,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief Ray Conner.

In jet deliveries, Boeing came out ahead for the third consecutive year, after nine straight years before that when Airbus built more jets.

The value of Boeing’s 2014 jet deliveries, based on actual market values provided by Avitas, was about $58 billion.

In comparison, Airbus’s jet deliveries were valued at about $40 billion.

Boeing’s advantage lay in its rolling out many more widebody jets — especially 787s and 777s as well as 767s and 747s — than Airbus, which has only its A330s and a few of its largest model A380s in that big jet category.

Boeing handed over 238 widebodies to customers in 2014. Airbus delivered only 139 of these bigger jets, including 30 superjumbo A380s.

That means Boeing airplanes accounted for 63 percent of widebody jet deliveries.

In 2014 deliveries of the smaller, single-aisle jets, Boeing came close to matching Airbus, something it hasn’t done in a dozen years.

That’s because the 737 workforce in Renton reached unprecedented levels of productivity in 2014, ramping up to 42 jets per month.

Boeing delivered 485 of its single-aisle 737s, just shy of Airbus’ 490 deliveries of the rival A320s.

Will Boeing hold onto this 50:50 parity in the small airplane market?

Some in the industry believe Airbus is positioned better for the future in this segment because, despite the huge success of the 737 MAX, it’s still being outsold by the Airbus A320neo family.

The Airbus A320neo sales edge is most apparent in the largest model, where Boeing has only 286 firm orders for the 737 MAX 9 compared to Airbus’s 755 orders for the corresponding A321neo.

In Toulouse Tuesday, Airbus ratcheted up the pressure in this segment by formally launching a new long-range variant of the A321neo, with a committment from Steven Udvar-Hazy — the CEO of Air Lease Corp. and the world’s most renowned airplane market analyst — to take 30 more of this newest model.

“The longer haul single aisle market is a lucrative one that the A321neo will now dominate,” Udvar-Hazy said in a statement.

Airbus is pitching this long-range A321 as a replacement for the out-of-production Boeing single-aisle 757 that some airlines use, for example, on North Atlantic routes between the U.S. East Coast and Europe.

Airbus has suggested the market for this size and range of plane could be 1,000 airplanes.

In a teleconference with journalists Tuesday, Boeing marketing vice president Randy Tinseth dismissed that saying that only “50 to 60 757s are actually flying on these long-range markets today.”

“The thought of a 1,000-airplane market for an airplane of that size frankly is a little bit laughable,” Tinseth added.

Boeing sales chief John Wojick said the jetmaker continues to study the 757 replacement market and when the time is right will likely go with a new plane that is both larger and longer range than the 757 — in other words, a new plane category sized between the single-aisle 737 MAX 9 and the twin-aisle 787-8.

After a year when Boeing beat Airbus handily in deliveries, but just lagged in new orders, Wojick insisted that deliveries are what count.

The jet manufacturers get paid most of the price of an airplane on delivery. While orders indicate future potential deliveries, some will inevitably be canceled and never be delivered.

“Where the rubber really hits the road is when airplanes actually deliver,” Wojick said.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: Eric2/27/2015 7:38:58 PM
1 Recommendation   of 3362
From rust bucket to showpiece: Volunteers are rescuing the first Boeing 747

Originally published February 27, 2015 at 10:02 am
Updated February 27, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Ron Judd

After years of neglect, historic 747 Number One, parked at the Museum of Flight, was cleaned, sanded and given a fresh paint job to match the plane’s livery from its test-flight stage in 1969. Thanks to a passionate crew of volunteers, many of them retired Boeing employees, the historic plane is starting to resemble the engineering marvel that rolled from a hangar in Everett on Sept. 10, 1968. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

“No museum, anywhere, has ever faced a restoration project of this magnitude,” Museum of Flight curator Dan Hagedorn says of the historic plane.

Before last summer’s paint job, completed by workers on hydraulic lifts using foam rollers, the plane credited with “democratizing” global travel was in a state of sad neglect, with years of rain taking its toll on the plane’s aluminum exterior. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

TWO YEARS AGO, Museum of Flight curator Dan Hagedorn walked through the decaying fuselage of RA-001, the first Boeing 747, frowned and offered a frank assessment: “No museum, anywhere, has ever faced a restoration project of this magnitude,” he said, predicting a long, piecemeal rehab of the once-proud symbol of Seattle-area big thinking.

A couple months later, retired Boeing quality-assurance manager Dennis Dhein gave the musty bird a similar walk-through, shrugged, banged out a to-do list, recruited some buddies, and got to work.

Today, the historic plane looks a lot closer to the gleaming beast that rolled from a hangar in Everett on Sept. 10, 1968, than a plane one step away from a desert bone yard.

A maintenance manual explains how to adjust the front-entry door. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

Leaky seams have been sealed, carpeting replaced, lighting installed and equipment restored to return the plane to its unique test-flight configuration. Even more significantly, the hulking aircraft, which sits among other historic jetliners outside the museum near Boeing Field, now gleams in its original white, red and silver test-plane livery, thanks to its first paint job in decades.

“We have brought that beautiful airplane back from the brink,” Hagedorn says.

He offers full credit to Dhein and a crew of mostly retired restorers who have thrown their collective hearts, as well as dogged, seat-of-the-pants ingenuity, into restoring the machine that put the Puget Sound region on the map as a center of innovation — and whose progeny have kept it there for more than four decades.

The remarkable transformation of RA-001 from rust bucket to near-showpiece is a testament to the Puget Sound region’s vast reserve of accumulated aeronautical-engineering know-how. It also points to the equally vast pride of ownership of classic jetliners by former employees of the “old Boeing,” which built planes essentially from scratch, right here.

Dennis Dhein has replaced instruments, and repaired and painted several sections of the cockpit instrument panels, making them look like they did when the plane was new. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

In the late 1960s, the team of original 747 engineers, commanded by Seattle native and University of Washington grad Joe Sutter, became so legendary for the innovative design of the then-unthinkably huge plane they were nicknamed “The Incredibles.” Some of that same can-do spirit has been summoned to put the remarkable plane they built back together.

This good news for the plane is about to get better: “Number One,” as it’s known to generations of locals, is finally about to come in out of the rain once and for all. The Museum of Flight is poised to break ground on a massive roof to cover the 747 and other classic planes, including B-17 and B-29 bombers, the first jet-powered Air Force One, the first 787 and a Concorde supersonic jet.

While that project unfolds over the next two years, it’s unclear how much access the volunteer crew will have to their now-beloved 747 — which remains very much a work in progress. But don’t be surprised if Dhein’s crew finds a way to get inside the plane at its temporary parking stall to keep chipping away at that to-do list.

Volunteer restorers, on this plane and many others in the museum’s collection, tend to find a way.

Volunteer Tom Olsson helps guide a spare Boeing 747 door up to the cargo bay of Boeing’s first 747, RA-001, which is being restored at the Museum of Flight. Awaiting the door, which will be used for its spare parts, are fellow volunteers Tom Elliott, left, and Dennis Dhein. The door is being raised by a forklift. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

LOCAL AIRPLANE lovers have long lamented the decay of Number One, which made its last landing at Boeing Field on April 6, 1995. But getting enough of them, in the right places, to roll up their sleeves at the same time required a bit of serendipity.

The museum’s long quest to acquire a retired Space Shuttle ended in 2011, when it instead was awarded by NASA a mock-up shuttle trainer, now a popular display. That freed the museum to refocus on protecting its exposed collection of vintage jetliners, lined up just outside the shuttle building’s doors.

Months later, a September 2012 essay in Pacific NW magazine about the sad state of the plane lit a match beneath the museum and the local aviation-fan community, volunteer restorers say.

“When I saw that article, and they said they wanted volunteers, I said, ‘OK, that’s me,’ ” said retired Boeing engineer turned soiled-747-landing-gear restorer Ted Schumaker, 79.

Shortly thereafter, the museum’s board of directors approved a 747 overhaul. The timing was fortuitous: Dhein, Schumaker and others had been working for years to restore the museum’s iconic B-29 bomber. In late 2011, that project was put on hold when the crew lost its hangar space and the plane was shrink-wrapped for storage. Dhein and friends, some of whom had worked on the plane for more than a decade, found themselves “unemployed.”

Alert volunteer coordinator Carol Thomson, who manages more than 500 “passionate and enthusiastic” museum volunteers, called a meeting of dislocated restorers and asked for volunteer crew chiefs to head up teams for the big airpark jets.

“People jumped right away on some of the airplanes,” recalls Dhein, 72. “I thought surely somebody else might be interested in the 747. Nobody raised their hand. I said, ‘I’ll take it.’ I wanted a Boeing airplane.”

Volunteers Tom Olsson, Dennis Dhein and Tom Elliott, from left, reassemble a repaired 747 bulk cargo door balance mechanism, which had broken earlier this day. The three men are among the crew of volunteers who have turned the restoration of Boeing’s first 747 into a mission. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

Two others, Schumaker and Tom Elliott, immediately signed on. Volunteers Dale Thompson, Tom Olsson and a dozen others followed. In late 2012, the crew chief and his charges pried open the cabin door to the 231-foot-long piece of aviation history — and got an unpleasant dose of reality.

“It looked pretty bad,” Schumaker recalls. “It was an embarrassment to Boeing and the museum. But I figured, here was a chance to do something good.”

The crew kept adding — and continues to add — to Dhein’s list, which lives on as a spreadsheet on his home computer. It has grown to 118 items, roughly 60 percent of which are complete to standards the crew considers acceptable.

Many of these are big-ticket matters: Reinstalling electronic-equipment test racks in the main cabin. Cleaning the massive landing gear and replacing chest-high, threadbare tires. Finding lost pieces for engines and cowlings. Renovating landing lights. Replacing or repairing flooring and seals for hatches and doors.

Other items might be considered minor, but still matter for historical accuracy: New sheepskin for the pilots’ seats. Refurbishing the trademark spiral staircase to the upper cabin. Reupholstering lounge seats in period-groovy early 1970s fabrics. Installing display lighting and replacing broken or lost gauges in the cockpit. Replacing crumbling cords on intercom handsets. On and on.

Think of Number One the way the crew has come to see it — as a cherished, 47-year-old, three-story fixer-upper — one that had been abused mercilessly in a life span as a diverse test plane for future 747s, engine tests for future jetliners, and even a stint as an experimental jumbo refueling tanker. Many missing pieces have been donated by local airplane subcontractors and installed with savvy advice from past Boeing workers.

Most of the easy repairs have been made. Now the crew is down to replacing parts that, if they can’t be located, will have to be refabricated to make the plane complete.

“We’ve still got some really time-consuming stuff ahead of us,” Dhein says.

A mannequin wearing a flight attendant’s uniform stands behind glass inside the restored Number One. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

THE PROBLEM, of course, is that you can’t make a call to O’Reilly Jumbo Jetliner Parts and order a missing 747-100 series lounge ceiling panel. It’s possible that part either never existed, or was removed at some point and lost.

A test plane isn’t designed to look good — on the inside, at least. It’s pure functionality, and RA-001, the forerunner to the oft-posh “Queen of the Skies” long-range 747 family, reeks of that working-class ethic. In fact, the plane’s stripped-down interior, with flight-control systems, electrical wiring and air ducts visible in uncovered ceilings and walls, is part of its museum-piece allure: It provides a near-cross-section view of an airplane that very few people have ever seen stripped of ceiling panels, bulkheads, luggage bins and other interior finery.

“What gets most people is how big it is inside,” Schumaker says. “You can see the entire length of the airplane, and look up and see all that stuff in the ceiling. A lot of people are impressed by how complicated it all is.”

But restoring the plane to that test-bed configuration — complete with racks of manned electronic gadgetry and water barrels for ballast — has presented its own challenges. None of the original 75,000 design drawings created by Sutter’s team have been provided by Boeing; the 747, after some 1,500 planes delivered and nearly 6 billion passengers flown, is, for now still an active product line.

For fine details, restorers have turned to old test-flight photographs to see how the main cabin was arranged. Some similar electronic gear has been found and reinstalled in test stations that at least look period-authentic.

The greatest challenge has been finding exterior engine and engine-strut pieces for the plane’s four Pratt & Whitney JT-9D engines. RA-001 not only is one of a kind, it also is among the last surviving 747-100s still in one piece. Most of the other 250 planes of its class, all built in Everett, have long since retired from service; most have been scrapped.

Mining the network of global airplane salvage companies has become an ongoing adventure for Dhein, who worked for Boeing Commercial Airplanes for 27 years.

“I listed tires as something we’d need to replace,” he says. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to get tires?’

Plenty of them existed for 747-400s, many of which still fly. But they’re a slightly different size. Dhein put out the word on the airplane-restorer and subcontractor wire.

“We were lucky,” he says. “It turned out that the (Museum of Flight) Restoration Center at Paine Field in Everett had four of them. They were even mounted on wheels. Then I wound up getting two donated from an aviation company in Moses Lake.”

The Grant County connection led to a tip about another model 100 that was being scrapped in New Mexico, where a salvage-company employee told Dhein: “I’ve got nine tires I’ll donate. All you have to do is pay the shipping.”

Dhein, not wanting the tires to get away, sprung for the $600 shipping cost himself.

“We don’t have much of a budget to work with,” he says. “So that was my donation to the museum for the year.”

The team now has accumulated 15 tires — almost enough for new rubber all around. Installation will wait until the plane is permanently settled under the new museum airpark roof, at which point old Number One will roll to a final, dignified stop.

747 VOLUNTEER STORY 01082015 Last summer, the number one 747, sitting at the Museum of Flight in south Seattle, was cleaned and given a fresh coat of paint to match the original paint job from 1969. The historic first Boeing 747, once a step away from a desert bone yard, looks a lot closer to the gleaming beast that rolled from a hangar in Everett on Sept. 10, 1968 thanks to a crew of mostly retired volunteers who have thrown their collective hearts and souls into this massive restoration project. 144098

THAT ROOF might prove to be the plane’s salvation. Much of the completed repair work would be for naught if the 747, its old, riveted aluminum shell a magnet for seepage, remained exposed to the Seattle rain. Even after all the seams they’ve sealed, crew members continue to play Whac-A-Mole with leaks.

Not for long. The airpark roof project, which will span the space between the museum’s Charles Simonyi Space Gallery and Aviation High School to the north, is scheduled to be complete sometime next year. And Number One will be displayed beneath it with a new, gleaming exterior, thanks to a unique paint job completed last summer on-site by Global Jet Painting of Ojai, Calif.

The company, more accustomed to painting jetliners privately owned by rich people, was one of few equipped for this unusual job — repainting a jumbo jet outside, with foam rollers instead of spray equipment. Its crew, Dhein said, quickly embraced his own workers’ passion for the plane, putting extra effort and pride into a job they knew would be for posterity. The result is striking; the plane appears much as it did when it first rolled out of the Everett plant 47 years ago.

“The first morning after they’d finished, I walked out of the building and I swear to God the airplane looked like she was standing taller,” Hagedorn recalls.

An interpretive display inside the historic 747. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

When the roof is complete, visitors will be able to climb the steps into a piece of aviation history: The plane many credit with “democratizing” global travel, looking very much like it did when pilot Jack Waddell, co-pilot Brien Wygle and flight engineer Jesse Wallick first guided it into flight at Paine Field on Feb. 9, 1969.

Most visitors won’t get to the flight deck, because the spiral staircase, even restored, won’t handle the museum’s half-million annual visitors. But the refurbished plane is likely to be a museum draw for decades, showing, among other things, how rapidly technology has advanced since that first flight.

Retired Boeing quality-assurance manager Dennis Dhein, right, and volunteer Dale Smith look through Boeing 747 maintenance manual No. 52 to figure out why a cargo-door mechanism is stuck. They are working in the center fuselage. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)</>

“I have to admit . . . we’re surprised at what we accomplished in two years,” Dhein says. “In a way, it was almost scary when the museum took notice of what we had done and started promoting the airplane, wanting to open it up.”

During limited public openings last year, Dhein and his friends got a glimpse into the plane’s future: Scores of visitors, ranging from international tourists to Boeing employees who worked on the Everett production line, were “tickled pink,” Dhein says, to be able to finally stroll through the plane that revolutionized modern air travel. Among the most visibly moved were former pilots and line workers from the 747 program.

Like its original builders, the small, dedicated crew still working to make the plane a showpiece is a testament to the Puget Sound region’s still-active love affair with making big machines fly, Hagedorn believes.

“They love that airplane; that’s what sets them apart,” he says of the 747 crew. “They’re worth their weight in gold.”

Ron Judd is a Pacific NW magazine writer. Reach him at or 206-464-8280. On Twitter @roncjudd. Mike Siegel is a Seattle Times staff photographer.

Ron Judd's 2012 essay
Read the September 2012 Pacific NW magazine essay that spurred action:
The world's No. 1 jumbo jet languishes, looking for a savior

Did you work on 747 production in the early days? Or do you have vivid memories of the first time you saw the plane or boarded one? If so, please use the comment thread below to tell us about it.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read
Previous 10 Next 10 

Copyright © 1995-2018 Knight Sac Media. All rights reserved.Stock quotes are delayed at least 15 minutes - See Terms of Use.