Boeing to cut jobs at second Dreamliner plant: report

SEATTLE, Fri Feb 28, 2013 — Boeing Co. will cut hundreds of jobs at a South Carolina plant that makes 787 Dreamliners over the course of this year, but the move has nothing to do with the recent grounding of the troubled jetliner, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The cuts, which chiefly target contract workers, are not uncommon as productivity improves on a new airplane program and were conceived before major problems with the 787s battery surfaced, the Journal said. Two high-profile battery malfunctions led to international aviation regulators grounding the jetliner in mid-January.

The cuts could account for up to 20 percent of the workforce in some teams at the plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, the Journal reported, citing an unnamed source familiar with the plan. Overall, the plant employs more than 6,000 people.

Boeing did not confirm the layoffs, but did tell Reuters it plans to reduce reliance on contract workers at the South Carolina plant.

“Boeing regularly uses contract labor and ‘industry assist’ to supplement its workforce during surge activities and on development programs that require a production ramp up – that’s standard practice in the aerospace industry,” said Marc Birtel, a Boeing spokesman. “As we progress in improving efficiencies in our processes, training our entry-level employees and growing the experience of our team in South Carolina, we expect to continue to reduce reliance on contract labor/industry assist to meet our production objectives.”

The South Carolina plant is the second Boeing facility where 787s are assembled after the larger Everett, Wash., facility north of Seattle. Between them, Boeing turns out five Dreamliners per month.

So far, the plane maker has said production has not been slowed by the grounding of

Boeing close to fixing Dreamliner battery: source

CHICAGO, Wed Feb 20, 2013 — Boeing Co. has found a way to fix battery problems with its grounded 787 Dreamliner jets which involves increasing the space between cells, a source familiar with the U.S. company’s plans told Reuters.

“The gaps between cells will be bigger. I think that’s why there was overheating,” said the source, who declined to be identified because the plans are private.

The 50 Dreamliners in commercial service were grounded worldwide last month after a series of battery-related incidents including a fire on board a parked plane in the United States and an in-flight problem on another jet in Japan. Until the Dreamliner is cleared to fly again, Boeing will be starved of delivery payments.

The logical solution for Boeing would be to install ceramic plates between each cell and add a vent to the battery box, Kiyoshi Kanamura, a professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University who has conducted research with several Japanese battery makers, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, the chairman of state-run Air India said Boeing is hopeful of getting the Dreamliner back in service by early April.

Boeing starts 2013 ahead of Airbus despite 787 freeze

CHICAGO, Fri Feb 8, 2013 — Boeing started the year ahead of its European rival Airbus, after clinching the industry’s top spot in 2012, with broadly higher orders and deliveries in January, data showed on Friday.

EADS unit Airbus said it had taken 140 orders during the month, or 121 after adjusting for cancellations, and also delivered 35 passenger jets to airline customers.

Boeing said on Thursday it had delivered 39 aircraft in January, beating Airbus despite a halt in deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner which has been grounded by battery safety concerns.

The U.S. company sold 145 aircraft between Jan. 1 and Feb. 5, the nearest comparable period for which data is available, and took no cancellations.

Both companies’ order books were unusually active for January as American Airlines won court permission to confirm large plane orders while in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Boeing sees no big impact from 787 woes, profit beats

NEW YORK, Wed Jan 30, 2013 — Boeing Co. posted a stronger-than-expected profit on Wednesday as its backlog of orders rose, and said its 2013 forecast “assumes no significant financial impact” from the grounding of its 787 Dreamliner jet by regulators.

Shares were up 1.6 percent at 74.80 in premarket trading.

Aviation safety agencies in the United States and Japan are investigating what caused lithium-ion batteries to burn on two 787 passenger jets earlier this month, prompting regulators to ground the planes worldwide.

Boeing said it is continuing to build the Dreamliner, but has halted deliveries, and analysts have raised concerns about the cost of the grounding and for fixing the battery problem on about 125 jets that Boeing has built so far.

“Our first order of business for 2013 is to resolve the battery issue on the 787 and return the airplanes safely to service with our customers,” said Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney.

Boeing’s earnings, outlook overshadowed by 787 unknowns

NEW YORK, Tue Jan 29, 2013 — Just over a month ago, Boeing was flying high.

Its airplane factories were humming and speeding up production. Its defense business had just been restructured to deal with dwindling budgets in the United States and Europe. The company was confident enough to increase its dividend and resume buying back shares.

Perhaps best of all, Boeing was shortly to reclaim the title of world’s biggest plane maker, snatching back an honor that its arch rival Airbus had held for a decade.

But with its new 787 Dreamliner still grounded by two battery failures on the eve of its 2012 earnings release, the Chicago-based aerospace and defense giant is in no position to rest on laurels.

Analysts and investors are likely to grill Chief Executive Jim McNerney about the costs of fixing the 787 when the company reports earnings on Wednesday.

Those costs are unknown but mounting daily as airlines are barred from using the high-tech plane. Boeing is still building five Dreamliners a month but isn’t delivering them to customers. With each of them carrying a list price of $207 million, they quickly become an expensive pile of jets outside Boeing’s factories in Everett, Washington and North Charleston, South Carolina.

That is why Wall Street is looking for guidance from McNerney about how painful the grounding is getting.

Dreamliner probe widens after excess battery voltage ruled out

WASHINGTON, Mon Jan 21, 2013 — U.S. safety investigators on Sunday ruled out excess voltage as the cause of a battery fire this month on a Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner jet operated by Japan Airlines Co. and said they were expanding the probe to look at the battery’s charger and the jet’s auxiliary power unit.

Last week, governments across the world grounded the Dreamliner while Boeing halted deliveries after a problem with a lithium-ion battery on a second 787 plane, flown by All Nippon Airways Co., forced the aircraft to make an emergency landing in western Japan.

A growing number of investigators and Boeing executives are working around the clock to determine what caused the two incidents which the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says released flammable chemicals and could have sparked a fire in the plane’s electrical compartment.

There are still no clear answers about the root cause of the battery failures, but the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board’s statement eliminated one possible answer that had been raised by Japanese investigators.

Boeing Dreamliner incidents raise safety concerns

NEW YORK/TOKYO, Wed Jan 9, 2013 — Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner jet suffered a third mishap in as many days on Wednesday, heightening safety concerns after a string of setbacks for the new aircraft.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways said it was forced to cancel a 787 Dreamliner flight scheduled to from fly from Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan to Tokyo due to brake problems.

That followed a fuel leak on Tuesday that forced a 787 operated by Japan Airlines to cancel take-off at Boston’s Logan International Airport, a day after an electrical fire on another 787 after a JAL flight to Boston from Tokyo.

Asian customers rallied behind the U.S. planemaker, however, saying such teething troubles were not uncommon on new planes and confirming they had no plans to scale back or cancel orders for the aircraft, which has a list price of $207 million.

Boeing books 47 net new plane orders in latest week

CHICAGO — Boeing Co. said it booked 50 new orders for planes in the latest week, including orders for 31 of its wide body 777 jets, worth about $9 billion at list prices.

Customers also canceled orders for three planes – one 747, one 777 and one 787 — bringing the net increase in orders to 47 for the week. So far this year, Boeing has booked net orders for 1,115 planes.

The 50 new orders include four 767s for FedEx Corp., one 777 for the Republic of Iraq, and 15 737s and 30 777s for customers that Boeing did not identify.

The company did not say which customers had canceled orders.

Boeing, union suspend talks for rest of year on mediator request

NEW YORK, Thu Dec 6, 2012 — At the request of a federal mediator, Boeing Co. and the union representing its 23,000 engineers suspended talks on new labor contracts for the rest of the year.

The move came Wednesday, a day after the mediator joined the negotiations in Seattle. The two sides have been bargaining since April to replace contracts that expired Oct. 6. A 60-day extension ran out November 25, giving the union the ability to strike. Union leaders have said they would not call a strike until January at the earliest.

“At the request of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, negotiations between The Boeing Company and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, IFPTE Local 2001 are being suspended until after the first of the year,” the FMCS said in a statement Wednesday. “Both sides agreed to this mediator request.”

Talks between the two sides broke off briefly last week, and resumed Tuesday with the mediator present.

The talks broke off when Boeing said the sides were too far apart to continue talks without mediation. Boeing said it had upped its wage offer from a proposal it made in September.

Boeing said it had reached an agreement to supply Icelandair with 12 737s

CHICAGO, Thu Dec 6, 2012 — Boeing said it had reached an agreement to supply Icelandair  with 12 737 MAX aircraft which have a $1.2 billion list price.

Icelandair said on Thursday it had purchase rights for another 12 aircraft. It planned to fund the acquisition from internal resources as well as loans from banks.

“The company is in discussions with Export-Import Bank of the United States about possible financing support,” it said. It noted that the $1.2 billion price was the list price and that the actual purchase price was confidential.

Boeing said it was finalizing the details, after which time it would post the deal as a firm order.

The airline is buying eight 737 MAX8 aircraft and four 737 MAX9 planes. The MAX aircraft are a variant of the Boeing 737 and will first enter service in 2017. The first delivery to Icelandair is scheduled in the first half of 2018.

“Fuel savings compared to Icelandair’s present fleet of Boeing 757 is more than 20 percent per seat,” the airline said.

Icelandair operates a fleet of 23 757 airplanes for both its passenger and cargo operations.

The airline reported a 20 percent rise in pretax profit in the third quarter to $64.8 million and has benefited from increasing tourism to Iceland.

It said in the quarterly report that the number of passengers on international flights rose 11 percent to 745,000 year-on-year.