787 Dreamliner

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing shares are up 8 percent this year and revenue has been climbing but the company still faces some big challenges. One of them is how to build 787s more cheaply.

Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith told investors at a conference in New York the company is working hard on that.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing’s first-quarter earnings climbed 38 percent on strong demand for commercial airplanes. But the stock slipped 1.4 percent, partly on concern that low oil prices could hurt sales.

Growth in air travel, especially in Asia and the Middle East, has helped boost demand for Boeing and Airbus planes in recent years. But the 40 percent drop in oil prices since last July has investors wondering whether airlines will decide not to buy the newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft. 

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia says there’s a risk that Boeing’s 787 program might never be profitable. That’s because the airplane maker has accumulated $26 billion in production costs that it’s deferred into the future. 

Aboulafia says the total deferred production costs for Boeing’s Dreamliner program will probably climb to $30 billion or so.

He says what we’re seeing with those mounting costs is that employees are alienated after the company waged two contentious battles with its biggest labor unions in the past few years.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Investors are becoming more optimistic about Boeing’s ability to generate cash even as deferred costs continue to mount for the 787 Dreamliner program. 

Boeing shares climbed more than 5 percent after the company reported fourth-quarter net income of $1.47 billion, up 19 percent from a year ago.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing appears to have topped Airbus for a third year in a row in airplane deliveries, and the company has a new record backlog of more than 5,700 planes still to build. That's eight years' worth of production at the current rate.

The Boeing Company

If you’ve never stepped on a Dreamliner, this weekend may be your chance. Boeing is donating one of its early Dreamliners to Seattle’s Museum of Flight, and Saturday will be the first day the public can go inside. 

Museum spokesman Mike Bush says getting the Dreamliner is a big win.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Boeing reported that earnings and revenue climbed in its most recent quarter. But the stock fell on worries about when the 787 Dreamliner program will become profitable. One analyst says there’s another concern for investors: the recent drop in oil prices.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing says it is inspecting about 40 Dreamliners that may have hairline cracks in their wings. No planes in service are affected; the issue only affects some aircraft still in production.

Company spokesman Doug Alder says the wing manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, told Boeing that a change in their manufacturing process may have caused the cracks, which Alder says are very small.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing’s chief project engineer for the 787 Dreamliner, Mike Sinnett, has been reassigned to a new job. Sinnett shepherded the Dreamliner through the battery crisis earlier this year.

He will become a vice president of product development, in charge of preliminary airplane design. He will also head research and development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. 

Bob Whittington is shifting from his current position as chief project engineer of the 777 to replace Sinnett on the 787. Larry Schneider will replace Whittington on the 777 program.

A Japan Airlines flight to Tokyo's Narita Airport has returned safely to Boston's Logan Airport because of a possible fuel pump issue on the Boeing 787 aircraft.

It's the latest woe for the new Dreamliner aircraft after a lithium ion battery problem grounded the fleet in January and a fire on an Ethiopian Airlines plane last week.

Sang Tan / Associated Press

Two Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes ran into trouble in England on Friday, with a fire on one temporarily shutting down Heathrow Airport and an unspecified technical issue forcing another to turn back to Manchester Airport.

The incidents are unwelcome news for Chicago-based Boeing Co., whose Dreamliners were cleared to fly again in April after a four-month grounding due to concerns about overheating batteries.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing has topped Airbus in airplane deliveries so far this year in spite of the Dreamliner grounding that forced Boeing to stop delivering 787s for several months. 

The 787 grounding lasted three months, but it seems to have had little effect. Boeing kept producing new Dreamliners in Everett and in South Carolina during that time, then started handing them over to customers as soon as regulators gave the OK, with the newly-modified battery, of course.

Aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia says it was a bold and risky move to keep the Dreamliner assembly lines humming.


Boeing will soon start testing its redesigned Dreamliner battery. Battery experts say that means engineers will have to experiment with flammable lithium-ion batteries to see if, well, they explode. 

Engineers subject the batteries to something called safety abuse testing — crushing them, sticking nails in them — to see what happens.

So how do engineers manage to stay safe? 

The trick, according to battery expert Dan Doughty, is to not get too close.


Federal safety investigators so far have been unable to pinpoint the root cause of a 787 Dreamliner battery fire. At the same time, the Federal Aviation Administration is weighing whether to let Boeing move ahead with tests of a new battery design. Does the FAA have to wait for the safety investigation to finish? The short answer is, no.

Two reports on troubles with lithium ion batteries aboard Boeing's 787 Dreamliner:

In Japan, where a battery on an All Nippon Airlines 787 overheated and began smoking on Jan. 16, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing, the Transport Ministry released a report Wednesday saying it found that the battery in question had been improperly wired.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing is facing the specter of a possible engineers’ strike even as the company races to get the 787 Dreamliner back in the air. Tonight, the engineers’ union will tally votes to see whether members have rejected the contract and authorized a strike.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney says the company plans to keep boosting 787 Dreamliner production even while the planes are grounded for a battery investigation.

The grounding of the 787 Dreamliner worldwide after two battery failures dominated Boeing’s 2012 earnings conference call. McNerney says the company still plans to produce 10 Dreamliners a month by the end of this year – twice its current rate.

Luke Lai

The grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has been a big blow to Japan – both its airlines and its aerospace industry. It’s a reflection of the strong ties between Boeing and Japan.

Japanese airlines have been very loyal to Boeing for decades. They have almost half of the 787 Dreamliners delivered so far. All Nippon Airways was the launch customer.


With its fleet of 787 Dreamliners grounded indefinitely, Boeing is looking carefully at the lithium-ion batteries that power much of its innovative electronics. 

These hi-tech batteries are also used in many popular gadgets, from laptop computers to iPhones to electric cars. They make your devices lightweight, and they recharge quickly.


When Boeing engineers and technicians walked off the job 13 years ago, they said it wasn’t just for more money. They wanted to improve the culture of the company and chart a new course for organized labor. Did they succeed?

At first blush, it looked like a resounding success. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, or SPEEA, had won a contract with everything they had asked for. Executive Director Charlie Bofferding was triumphant in an interview with KING 5.

“We’re interacting now based on power and respect, and that’s where we want to be,” Bofferding said.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing appears to have reclaimed the crown from Airbus as the world’s top commercial airplane maker. 

Much of that stems from strong execution on the  787 Dreamliner, a plane that until recently was the butt of jokes for being three years late. Yair Reiner is an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. in New York.

"For an industry that had grown really accustomed to having the 787 perpetually miss its targets, in 2012, it hit them," Reiner said.

The Associated Press

SEATAC, Wash. — Fire trucks spraying rainbows of water Monday morning greeted the first All Nippon Airways 787 to land in commercial service at Sea-Tac Airport.

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Boeing's new 787 plane ran into its first technical glitch Sunday when the landing gear failed to deploy during a flight in Japan.

Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter says the pilots of Japan's All Nippon Airways used "an alternate procedure that worked." The plane landed safely and there were no reported injuries.

EVERETT, Wash. — Hundreds of people who gathered Monday for the delivery ceremony of the first Boeing 787 took cover from rain under the wings of two of the new airplanes at Paine Field, near the factory in Everett, Wash., where they were assembled.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Boeing workers in North Charleston are assembling the first new 787 to be made in South Carolina.


LE BOURGET, France — Boeing is showcasing it 787 Wednesday at the Paris Air Show.

After a three-year delay the first new 787 is expected to be delivered in August or September to All Nippon Airways.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

Last week, Boeing opened a new plant in South Carolina, where it's putting the second assembly line for the 787 Dreamliner.

That’s led to a fight between the aerospace giant and the National Labor Relations Board. The nation’s top enforcer of labor laws filed a complaint against Boeing in April. Proceedings in the case begin Tuesday in Seattle. 

The NLRB alleges Boeing built the second assembly line for the Dreamliner in South Carolina as retaliation for past strikes by the Machinists union in Washington state.  And that, it says, is against the law.


NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and state officials have joined hundreds of Boeing workers in North Charleston to cut the ribbon opening the company's 787 jetliner assembly plant at the center of a National Labor Relations Board dispute.

Haley on Friday called Boeing a great American company said its workers make all South Carolinians proud.

Making headlines this morning:

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Should the state legalize marijuana sales?

The idea has the backing of some state legislators who filed legislation Tuesday. It would allow state liquor stores to sell pot. KING-TV reports the bill's chief backer is Seattle Democrat Mary Lou Dickerson:

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