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Long gov’t shutdown may impact Boeing

Keywords: Tags  Boeing, James McNerney, government shutdown, Dreamliner, Jmaes McNerney, Federal Aviation Administration, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — Boeing Co. hasn’t been significantly impacted by the U.S. government shutdown, but a prolonged closure might slow deliveries of its commercial aircraft, the company said.

"Going forward, (the shutdown’s impact) is going to depend on how prolonged it is," a Boeing spokesman in Chicago said. "That’s the key for us."

James McNerney, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Chicago-based aerospace giant, was reportedly one of the organizers of a conference call between the Obama administration and the Washington-based Business Roundtable, during which President Obama urged corporate executives to convince Republican congressmen to end their impasse with the U.S. Senate and the White House.

On the commercial side, the critical concern could be a possible slowdown in certification for Boeing’s newer planes by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The impact might be most evident at the company’s North Charleston, S.C., facility, which delivered its first 787 Dreamliner in 2012, the spokesman said.

In defense, where Boeing has hundreds of programs, "we wouldn’t expect to see a significant impact if this has a short duration" of a few days, he added.

While he declined to speculate on the possibility of a production slowdown if airliner certification is postponed, the spokesman noted that Boeing held to its existing build rates earlier this year when battery issues resulted in the temporary grounding and delivery suspension of the 787-8.

The second version of the Dreamliner, the 787-9, recently had its maiden flight. The spokesman said that its certification program is expected to last until mid-2014.

More "mature" Boeing airliner models—presumably including its top-selling 737 Next Generation—could feel less of an effect since they require "less direct" certification by the FAA, which has "delegated" some of this authority to Boeing, he said.

"At this time, normal production is expected to continue for many of our programs," the spokesman said about Boeing’s defense jobs, although he noted that there could be "pockets" of disruption.

Boeing also has "mitigation or contingency plans" if the government shutdown continues, he added.

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