LOS ANGELES A
final assembly site for the newest version of the Boeing
777as well as the location of its new composite
wingis once again in play as the companys latest
union has turned down an extended contract that could have kept
production in Washington state.
Members of the
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
(IAM) District 751 this week voted overwhelmingly to reject a
proposed contract that would have extended the current
agreement into 2024, eight years beyond the current 2016
The proposed contract
included a number of concessions for Boeing workers, including
pension benefits and health-care costs, that would have given
the companys Puget Sound facilities the lead role in
building the 777X, as well as the planes planned new
composite wing (
amm.com, Nov. 6).
is building 777s at a rate of 8.3 planes per month at its
Everett, Wash., facility.
Acceptance of the new
contract would have enabled Boeing to build the next version of
its 777 twin-aisle airliner, the 777X, as well as its new
composite wing in the Puget Sound area, while creating a
"competitive structure" for Boeing in the region.
The 777 is considered
among the largest commercial aircraft consumers of titanium,
accounting for about 150,000 pounds of buy weight, including
both the airframe and engines. This amount could rise with the
777X, since the new composite might contain additional
titanium, which is generally more compatible with composites
than aluminum, although the wings material makeup has yet
to be finalized.
"But without the terms
of this contract extension, were left with no choice but
to open the process competitively and pursue all options for
the 777X," Conner said in a statement.
"All of our options
are back on the table at this stage," a Boeing spokesman in
Seattle said. Without citing any specific site, he said these
will include options "both inside and outside" the company.
expanding facility in South Carolina, which already is one of
the two final assembly sites for Boeings 787 Dreamliner,
has been considered a leading candidate if Washington state
doesnt work out.
Cai von Rumohr, an
analyst at New York-based investment firm Cowen & Co., said
in a note to investors that the Puget Sound area could "get a
portion of 777X work," although it is unlikely this would
include final assembly and production of the composite
The Boeing spokesman
said the company still intends to formally launch the plane "by
the end of the year." Speculation is that this could occur as
early as next week at an air show in Dubai.