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Boeing Live Event Coverage

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

July 13, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Good-bye from the 2012 Farnborough Air Show

A380 in flight 1.jpg

The A380 disappears toward the clouds on my final day at the Farnborough Air Show.

It's too wet and visibility too bad to make photos with my Blackberry worthwhile. So I'm wrapping up here and am off on vacation with my family. Back to Seattle in August.

Thank you for reading.

July 13, 2012 at 5:09 AM

Boeing's Indian guru: Air India will survive and take all its Dreamliners; aviation on the turn on the subcontinent

Dinesh Keskar has just returned to live in Seattle after a three-year stint as Boeing's president in India. At the Farnborough Air Show, his take on India's aviation sector, currently drowning in red ink and stalled by political paralysis, was surprisingly upbeat.

A pilot strike crippled Air India for 59 days, finally ending just this week. Three Air India 787 Dreamliners (two of them built in Everett) are sitting ready in North Charleston, S.C., awaiting only approval from the Indian government for delivery.

Air India has been bleeding money, losing $3.8 billion in the last three years. Indian carriers this year are projected to have combined losses of $2 billion.

Yet Keskar, now Boeing Commercial Airplanes senior vice president of sales for India and Asia Pacific, has no doubt that Air India will survive and thrive, and that the Indian aviation sector will recover.

"Air India will always be there," said Keskar. "The Dreamliners will be delivered. They are a vital part of the airline's turnaround plan."

His confidence in Air India is based on a $6 billion government cash infusion and the lift its Dreamliners will give it.

His optimism about the whole aviation sector derives from the brutal reduction in airline over-capacity currently happening as well as the recent stabilizing of India's currency and the moderating of oil prices.

Keskar sees not a single cancellation or deferral ahead for any Boeing jets.

It doesn't look so rosy for Airbus, as even its sales chief John Leahy must see when he looks at his order book from Kingfisher Airlines.

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July 12, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Boeing, Airbus see sunny side of modest Air Show order tally

Despite the economic gloom in Europe and the torrential rain in England, executives at Airbus and Boeing found reasons to be sunny about the deals unveiled at this week's Farnborough Air Show.
2012Farnborough cloud.jpg
Rare sunshine with dark cloud, this week at Farnborough. My photo.

Boeing even managed to land a blockbuster order of 150 planes from United Airlines as the show drew to a close Thursday.

That order built some sales momentum for its new single-aisle jet, the 737 MAX. The number of firm MAX orders bumped up to 649 jets. Including non-binding deals, Boeing said the MAX has commitments for more than 1,200 jets.

For Airbus, sales expectations at Farnborough were always low after the record orders at last year's Paris Air Show for its rival single-aisle plane, the A320neo. But at this stage, the neo remains way ahead of the MAX with 1,454 firm orders.

And sales chief John Leahy did manage to bag an important order from Cathay Pacific for the A350-1000, bolstering Airbus's more fragile widebody jet position.

Yet it was a lackluster haul of orders for the two aerospace giants compared to the Paris show, said aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group.

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July 12, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Supply chain changes keep more 787 assembly work local. Further change for next new Boeing plane.

corrected version*

2012 Stan Deal.jpgTweaks to the 787 supply chain this year mean that work once earmarked to be done overseas is now permanently assigned to Boeing's final assembly lines in Everett and North Charleston.

It's a dynamic that will be even more apparent on Boeing's next new major airplane program, according to Stan Deal, the Boeing executive in charge of the entire commercial airplanes supply chain (right, my photo).

"There has been a shift of view, of philosophy," Deal said.

FACC, an Austrian company that makes high-end composite parts, supplies spoilers for the 787 wings. Chief executive Walter Stephan said that in the original Boeing global supply plan, FACC was to send its part to Boeing Australia, which would add it onto the trailing edge of the wing.

That never worked out. For efficiency, FACC ended up sending the parts directly to the final assembly site in Everett.

About six months ago, FACC's part of the supply chain was restructured to make that permanent. Workers in Everett or North Charleston will continue to attach the spoilers to the wings.

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July 12, 2012 at 11:59 AM

Big United order allows Boeing to claim a successful Air Show week

The last real working day of a fascinating but low-key Farnborough Air Show ended with a firm order from United Airlines for 100 of Boeing's future 737 MAX single-aisle jets and 50 more current generation 737NGs.

It was a big deal, 50 percent bigger than expected. Valued at $14.7 billion at list prices, in reality it was worth roughly $7.7 billion after standard discounts, according to market data from aircraft valuation firm Avitas.

That's enough to crown Boeing's Air Show week as a success.

Six deals this past week provided the MAX with sales momentum. It now has commitments from 18 customers for just over 1,200 of the jets. Of those, 649 are firm orders.

Mind you, some of that momentum is manufactured, by the sleight of hand typical of Air Show announcements.

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July 12, 2012 at 6:44 AM

United unveils 150-plane order for MAX, 737-900

Boeing and United Airlines confirmed Thursday the big order that's been rumored for months: "150 brand new Boeing airplanes," said United CEO Jeff Smisek.

The order includes 100 of the forthcoming MAX-9 jets and 50 current-generation 737-900 ERs, Smisek said. United's order is worth $14.7 billion at list prices, though undoubtedly the actual price is considerably lower.

Smisek joined Boeing CEO Jim McNerney and the new head of Boeing's Commercial Airplanes unit, Ray Conner, at the press conference -- held in the city where bothhave their headquarters, not at the Farnborough Air Show where most of the world's aviation industry has been cutting deals and inspecting hardware all this week.

With today's order, said McNerney, the 737 has now surpassed 10,000 orders,
"an unprecedented milestone in the Jet Age."

The order includes additional options that were not disclosed today.


Smisek noted that United has existing orders from both Airbus and Boeing that are still to be delivered. These include the 787 Dreamliner, and Smisek said "Boeing has guaranteed us that we will get our first 787 in late September."

The United order is bigger than any Boeing announced at the Air Show. Its tally as of Wednesday was 98 firm orders for the MAX: 23 from Virgin Australia and 75 from Air Lease Corp. It also disclosed previous commitments - not firm orders - for 100 MAXs from leasing company GECAS; 20 MAXs from ALAFCO; and a mix of 15 MAXs and 10 current-generation 737NGs from Avolon.

July 11, 2012 at 5:16 PM

United on Thursday to order 100 Boeing 737s, mostly MAXs, with 100 options

Some of the planes United will order will be the current Renton-built model, pictured above, but most will be the forthcoming model with new fuel-efficient engines, the 737 MAX.

DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Some of the planes United will order will be the current Renton-built model, pictured above, but most will be the forthcoming model with new fuel-efficient engines, the 737 MAX.

The Boeing sales machine swivels on Thursday from London to Chicago.

Boeing and United Airlines have called a press conference for 9 a.m. central in Chicago to announce a large order that's been expected for some time.

United CEO Jeff Smisek will appear with Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, along with Ray Conner, the new CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Conner must have jetted to Chicago Wednesday evening. Earlier today, I saw him pass through the Boeing media chalet at the Farnborough Air Show here in London.

The news will significantly add to Boeing's sales tally from the Air Show.

A reliable source familiar with the deal confirmed that the size of the order is what has long been rumored.

United will place a firm order for 100 of Boeing's single-aisle 737s, most of them the forthcoming model with new fuel-efficient engines, the 737 MAX.

The airline will have options to take 100 more.

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July 11, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Airbus, in U.S. drive, looking for suppliers in Boeing's home state

David Williams's job is to find more U.S. suppliers for Airbus and its parent company EADS. He wants to fish in Washington state.

"Washington is a key aerospace state," said Williams in an interview at Farnborough. "We're looking for suppliers who can add value to the EADS and Airbus supply chain and that's an obvious pond to fish."

Williams, vice president of procurement at Airbus Americas, met on Tuesday with Gov. Chris Gregoire of Washington to discuss opportunities.
USA320 pin.jpg
He said that even though the euro has declined against the dollar recently, easing the currency whiplash that afflicts Airbus (its customers pay in dollars while most of its costs are in euros), the European jetmaker still wants to shift more of its costs to the U.S. dollar zone.

"We don't want our company at the mercy of the exchange rates," said Williams. "We want to take the risk out."

That's one reason behind the decision announced last week to locate a future A320 assembly plant in Mobile, Ala. (Above, a pin Airbus is handing out at Farnborough. My photo.)

But Williams fully agrees with Gregoire that even that move into Alabama can help Washington state aerospace suppliers.

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