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Steve Wilhelm
Puget Sound Business Journal|www.bizjournals.com/seattle

The good news for Boeing is that the global commercial aircraft market will keep growing through 2018 to about $115 billion, and then drop off only slightly.

But Boeing is becoming dangerously dependent on its commercial side, with the end of essentially all of its fighter jet sales rapidly approaching, which might force Boeing to make a major defense acquisition, said Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst for The Teal Group, based outside Washington, D.C.

Those predictions are from Aboulafia’s annual forecast, which he gave Wednesday to the annual Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance Convention in Lynnwood. His speech is generally considered a highlight of the event. read more »


Thousands of global aerospace leaders will descend on Washington during the next two months, for two conventions nearly back to back.

On Feb. 4-6, top executives from aircraft builders Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer, as well as the leading jet engine makers, will update local and global aerospace suppliers at the 15th Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance Aerospace Conference. The event will be at the Lynnwood Convention Center.

“It provides an informal atmosphere for networking and some people are able to get high-level meetings with Airbus and the like that would be more difficult to manage otherwise,” said Danielle Ellingston, aerospace business development manager for the Washington state Department of Commerce.

Then on March 11-13, thousands of suppliers from around the world will attend the Aerospace and Defense Supplier Summit Seattle 2014, which will focus on supplying Boeing. read more »


While Boeing Co. CEO Jim McNerney said Wednesday that he’s seeing evidence of rapprochement between company management and members of Machinists District Council 751, that’s not how it looks on the factory floor.

At least not yet.

McNerney was speaking during Chicago-based Boeing’s fourth-quarter conference call with analysts about earnings. In response to an analyst’s question, he said it seems to him the company and the union are “reaching out” to each other, after the tense atmosphere that prevailed between the two sides last fall.

“I’m seeing signs of both sides seeing the size of this opportunity through the drama, heartfelt as it was, and there is still emotion, but I think (it’s) now focused on the business opportunity,” McNerney said. “There’s now more interaction, between IAM (International Association of Machinists) in Seattle and management, than there has for been a long time. I think they’re beginning to come together.” read more »


Despite a lengthy campaign, Washington state has not been selected as one of six U.S. test sites for unmanned aircraft systems, also known as drones.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Dec. 30 the six sites chosen: the University of Alaska, Nevada, New York’s Griffiss International Airport, North Dakota, Texas A&M University, and Virginia Polytech Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).

Washington state had offered Grant County International Airport as a test site, code-named the “Pacific Northwest Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Center.” The application was submitted May 6.

The proposal was put forward by a consortium hoping to attract to Washington the ancillary contractors and work that will accompany the project. read more »


Boeing Machinists are to vote on the the company’s most recent contract proposal on Jan. 3, over the objections of their local leadership.

If union Machinists approve the proposal, Boeing has promised to assemble in Everett its 777X jetliner, an updated version of the current model, securing aerospace work in the state for many years.

Members of Machinists District Lodge 751 are being asked to vote on the disputed contract offer on order from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Washington, D.C., over the heads of local union leaders.

The news elicited delight from members who had been lobbying for an opportunity to vote. read more »


Up to 1,200 Boeing technology research jobs will be leaving Washington state to points south, to new sites in Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina.

The company announced last week it plans to establish new Boeing Research & Technology centers in those three states, all of which also are contenders to build the 777X jetliner, as part of a general shift of Boeing brainpower away from Washington.

Boeing’s announcement belies the widely held belief that Boeing’s moves to the south primarily have to do with finding cheap assembly workers. This move cuts to the core of Boeing’s intellectual capital in Washington, although the research workers in Southern states may, indeed, be cheaper. read more »


Boeing launched its 777X jetliner at the Dubai Airshow in the United Arab Emirates, with 225 orders from three Middle East airlines worth about $83 billion combined at list prices.

The size of the initial orders only underscored the high-stakes maneuvers over where Boeing will assemble the 777X and build the jetliner’s enormous composite wings. After Puget Sound Machinists last week rejected a Boeing-proposed contract extension, Washington state must now compete with other states for the assembly line and the well-paid factory jobs that go with it.

Boeing officials said they’ll make a decision on where to build the new 777X airplane within the next two to three months. Production on the 777X is expected to begin in 2017 and the first test flight of the plane is scheduled for 2019, with delivery of the first 777X expected in 2020. read more »


About 400 union members rallied near the Boeing Everett plant on Nov. 11 to angrily denounce the company’s contract offer — a pact that Boeing says is crucial if it is to build its next new airplane model in Washington state.

The rally, held just two days before union members are to vote on the deal Nov. 13, was punctuated by cries of “vote no” and other rhythmic chants.

The vote will determine if Machinists District Lodge 751 accepts the contract extension through 2024, a deal that was announced Nov. 5 by Gov. Jay Inslee, who already has signed fast-track legislation providing Boeing tax breaks if it sites the new 777X jetliner in the state.

Acceptance of the contract would lead to the 777X and its wings being built in Everett. If union members vote it down, the company plans to consider other locations. read more »


Universities in Washington and Oregon have banded together to apply for federal funds to create a “regional innovative manufacturing facility” in each state, which would focus on each state’s technology expertise.

In Washington, the facility would accelerate the real-world application of carbon composite technologies, bringing the super-strong material onto more factory floors, said Mark Tuttle, a mechanical engineer and director of the FAA-backed center on Advanced Materials in Transport Aircraft Structures, headquartered at the University of Washington.

Tuttle is one of the principals on the funding application, with professor of mechanical engineering Santosh Devasia, who is the lead. read more »

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