Boeing

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

About 400 union machinists at Triumph Composite Systems, an aerospace supplier in Spokane, are preparing to go on strike tonight after their contract expires.

Lynne Warne, a spokeswoman for Triumph, said the facility will keep operating by using a combination of salaried employees and contractors. 

Ralph Radford / AP Photo

Boeing says it’s doing all it can to meet a big deadline in August of next year, when the company is supposed to deliver the first 18 KC-46 aerial refueling tankers to the Air Force, but cost overruns on the program have been mounting.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

When you think of business rivalries, some epic ones might spring to mind: Coke vs. Pepsi, McDonald's vs. Burger King, Marvel vs. DC.

Here in Washington state, we have front-row seats to one of those legendary business rivalries: Boeing vs. Airbus. And what's interesting here is that an entire aerospace supply chain that grew up servicing one major customer, Boeing, has now diversified into selling to its European arch-nemesis.

SPEEA

Boeing engineers and technical workers have voted to accept a new six-year contract, one that the company said "helps position us for continued success in a highly competitive landscape."

The contract covers about 20,000 Boeing engineers and technical workers, mostly in the Puget Sound region. The negotiations and vote were much more peaceful this time than they were three years ago. At that time, members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, or SPEEA, were so unhappy with the company’s proposals, they almost went on strike. 

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing shares dropped almost 7 percent after Bloomberg reported the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the company’s accounting. 

According to the story, which cites unidentified people "with knowledge of the matter," securities regulators are looking into how Boeing has accounted for costs and expected sales of its 787 Dreamliner and the 747-8 jumbo jet. Spokesmen for Boeing and the SEC declined to comment. 

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner told employees during a webcast that the company will cut an undisclosed number of jobs as a way to reduce costs. 

"We will start reducing employment levels with executives and managers first," the company said in a statement. "We will also use attrition and voluntary layoffs. As a last resort, involuntary layoffs may be necessary."

IAM District 751

A group of Democratic lawmakers in the Washington House of Representatives is trying again to link Boeing’s tax break to the number of jobs the company keeps in the state. This time, they’ve won support from two Republicans: Rep. Cary Condotta, who represents the Wenatchee area, and Rep. Richard DeBolt from Chehalis.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The people who build and design airplanes for Boeing in the Puget Sound region have been the focus of a unique, two-decade-long study. A team of professors from the University of Puget Sound has surveyed thousands of Boeing workers to track how the company has transformed over time, and what that’s meant for employees.

Reed Saxon / AP Photo

After battling in court for nine years, Boeing has agreed to pay $57 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that alleged the company's 401(k) retirement plan charged employees excessive administrative fees and should have offered different investment options. 

China unveiled its first passenger jet Monday, part of an effort to compete in the lucrative commercial aircraft business now dominated by Boeing and Airbus.

The single-aisle, twin-engine C919 was developed by the state-run Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or Comac. The jet was shown to a large crowd of government dignitaries in a hangar at an assembly plant outside Shanghai, near Pudong International Airport.

The Boeing Company's unmanned aircraft subsidiary based in the Columbia River Gorge passed a milestone this week in commercializing drone technology.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing reported third-quarter earnings and revenue that topped analyst estimates, but the company hinted at a possible lower production rate for its wide-body 777 jet. 

Revenue climbed 9 percent to $25.8 billion, topping analysts' consensus estimate of $24.7 billion, according to the financial research company, Factset. Boeing's net earnings jumped 25 percent. The company delivered a record 199 airplanes in the quarter.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Washington aerospace businesses are meeting this week in Spokane for an annual statewide summit, where they are planning to talk about some of the industry’s most pressing issues, including reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

On the day that Chinese President Xi Jinping toured Boeing's wide-body jet factory in Everett, Boeing announced a deal to sell 300 airplanes to Chinese airlines and leasing companies and build a 737 completion and delivery center in China. 

Andrea Melendez / AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with titans of Northwest commerce this week on their home turf: Think Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft and Amazon. Visits from Chinese dignitaries are often accompanied by announcements of deals or sales.

Boeing is moving to settle a lawsuit accusing it of mishandling its 401(k) plan for thousands of workers. The case is part of a legal assault by a consumer rights attorney to stop companies from offering employees high-cost, bad retirement plans.

Nick Ut / AP Photo

A class-action lawsuit focused on the retirement accounts for about 190,000 Boeing employees and retirees heads to trial next week. The lawsuit, which was first filed nearly nine years ago, accuses Boeing of offering employees 401(k) retirement plans that charged excessive fees. 

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.

NASA / Flickr

Boeing says it’s confident the company will still be able to deliver 18 tanker aircraft to the U.S. Air Force two years from now in spite of problems that emerged in the most recent quarter. 

The KC-46 tanker program was the focus of a big fight between Boeing and Airbus for years before the contract finally went to Boeing. Now, the first tankers are being built in Everett.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing violated labor law by not giving information to its engineers’ union regarding plans for moving jobs out of the Puget Sound region, a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge has ruled.

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said the company disagrees with the ruling and expects to appeal the decision.

File Photo

(Corrected spelling of Muilenburg's name.)

Boeing says Chief Executive Jim McNerney will turn over the reins to Dennis Muilenburg, who has served as the aerospace company’s president and chief operating officer since 2013. Muilenburg will take over on July 1st.

McNerney will stay on as chairman of the board and will work at the company to help with the transition until he retires at the end of February 2016, the company said in a statement. Muilenburg has been elected a member of the board.

Muilenburg is 51 and has worked for Boeing for 30 years. He joined Boeing as an engineering intern in Seattle in 1985 and centered his career in the company’s defense business. He headed Boeing’s Defense Space and Security business from 2009 until 2013.  

But the commercial airplane side of the company is where Muilenburg faces a number of decisions to make soon, said aviation analyst Scott Hamilton. 

Decisions To Make

"The more pressing issues for Dennis are going to be what to do about the 747 production rate and whether or not to even continue the program," Hamilton said. Muilenburg will also have to decide "whether or not to acknowledge what everybody else already believes is going to happen and that is a rate reduction on the 777 classic in advance of the 777X."

Doug / Flickr

Boeing says it’s exploring the idea of building a new mid-sized jet, and Washington state officials say they’re already lobbying the company to build it here. 

The company says customers have been asking for something bigger than the 757, which is a single-aisle plane that was built in Renton from 1982 to 2005. Spokespeople for Boeing say the company is evaluating “low-risk solutions.” 

Ashley Gross / KPLu

A top Boeing executive says the airline industry is enjoying record profits because of increasing demand for air travel and a decline in oil prices.

Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s vice president of marketing, sounded optimistic when he spoke with reporters in a briefing ahead of the Paris Air Show, which begins June 15th. Tinseth says air passenger traffic grew six percent last year, above the historical rate of five percent, and should grow six percent again this year.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

It’s coming down to the wire for the Export-Import Bank, the federal agency that offers financing and loan guarantees to help U.S. businesses export goods. Some Republicans want to let the bank’s charter expire at the end of this month. 

Washington state businesses are paying close attention to this fight because Boeing is the biggest beneficiary of the Export-Import Bank. Reuters recently reported that Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said the company might have to shift engineering and manufacturing jobs overseas if the bank disappears. 

Boeing

Even in this day and age, aviation is a male-dominated industry. But when Boeing delivered a new 737-900ER to United Airlines on Wednesday at King County International Airport, men were the ones in the minority – by design.

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. 

Bryan Corliss / District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Washington state is facing an “enormous budget challenge,” according to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has proposed creating a tax on capital gains and another on carbon pollution.

But wait a minute, didn’t lawmakers pass what’s been called the biggest tax break in U.S. history just a year and a half ago? What are we getting in exchange for those tax dollars we’ve chosen not to collect from the aerospace industry?

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing workers facing job cuts are urging state lawmakers to require more from aerospace companies in exchange for tax breaks. The Washington legislature passed a 16-year extension of the tax incentives in 2013 to win Boeing's 777X production line.  

Kevin P. Casey / AP Photo

Speculation has climbed that Boeing might be interested in acquiring the military aircraft unit of rival Northrop Grumman, but Boeing’s chief executive told investors he’s not inclined to make big purchases. 

Boeing and Lockheed Martin have teamed up to try to win a contract from the Pentagon to build new long-range strike bombers. They’re going up against Northrop Grumman.

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.

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