A commercial submarine operator is teaming up with the University of Washington to build a new manned deep-sea sub. The five-passenger mini-sub could be available for charter by oil companies or researchers beginning in 2016.

Seattle-based OceanGate Inc. currently operates two small submarines for hire. It sees a market for deeper diving manned submersibles. To that end, the small company has partnered with the University of Washington and Boeing to design a stubby, bullet-shaped mini-sub with a 180-degree viewing dome in its nose.

Michael Dwyer / AP Photo

Japan Airlines is buying its first-ever jets from Airbus in a deal with a list value of 950 billion yen ($9.5 billion) with a purchase of 31 A350 planes.

JAL's fleet has been dominated by Boeing Co. offerings, partly because of the ties between Japan and the U.S. that span decades and include security arrangements.

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.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing raised its earnings and revenue forecasts for this year, reflecting strong demand in both the commercial airplane and defense businesses. But company executives say they plan to continue cutting costs. 

Boeing has announced a series of layoffs in Washington state this year, and its local headcount has shrunk by more than a thousand since the end of January. CEO Jim McNerney says the company is operating in a “more-for-less world,” and that’s what’s driving the focus on reducing costs.

woodleywonderworks photo / Flickr

The official estimate of how much fish people eat dictates the levels of pollution that are allowed, and a statewide coalition of clean water advocates says an accurate standard is long overdue.

Waterkeepers Washington is threatening to sue the federal government over lack of enforcement.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

State and local leaders have promised Boeing expedited permitting to build its next 777 wide-body jet, as well as the plane’s carbon-fiber wing, in Washington. Still, the Puget Sound region faces competition for wing assembly not only from elsewhere in the U.S., but also from Japan.

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 sent a technical team to assist in the investigation of the Asiana Airlines 777 crash in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the company is on the brink of making major business decisions about where the newest 777 will be built. Some aerospace observers, speaking off the record, say Washington state's recent legislative session may have damaged our chances of landing the assembly here. They say lawmakers failed to show Boeing the state is serious about competing with lower-wage states like South Carolina. 

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.

jpellgen / Flickr

Washington state House Democrats removed funds for a fish-consumption study from the final budget. That went against the wishes of one of the state's biggest business interests, Boeing.

The state Department of Ecology currently assumes that people in Washington eat about one meal of fish a month. But the state acknowledges the standard is out of date; many people eat a lot more fish than that.

Tribes and environmental groups have been urging the state to update its standard and require stricter regulation of water pollution. But that has been met with resistance from businesses, including Boeing.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

A team of professors with the University of Puget Sound wants to know how happy—or unhappy—Boeing workers are. The professors are surveying the company's employees about their attitudes toward work with the goal of turning the research into a book. 

Laurent Jegou

Airbus is reportedly considering expanding its presence in Washington state. Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton says, if it happens, that kind of investment here by Boeing’s archrival would help the state solidify its status as an aerospace mecca.

Francois Mori / Associated Press

Washington’s delegation to the Paris Air Show is trying to persuade more European aerospace companies to do business here. They're finding that European companies are receptive, in part because they want to do business in dollars.

Bob Edme / The Associated Press

Each maiden voyage of a Boeing airplane has been cause for much celebration in Washington state. But now there’s a big chunk of the local aerospace industry that also supplies Boeing’s main rival, Airbus. So when a new Airbus plane takes to the skies – like the A350 earlier today – a large contingent of workers here in Boeing’s backyard watches with pride.

Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane is planning a public memorial service for three of its airmen killed in a mid-air explosion over central Asia.

The cause of the air refueling tanker accident last Friday remains under investigation, but the crash renews attention on a Boeing Company contract to replace the Air Force's aging tanker fleet.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has signed legislation to give the Boeing Co. $120 million in incentives for its expansion plans in the state.

Haley's spokesman Rob Godfrey told The Associated Press that the Republican governor signed the bill into law Tuesday afternoon.

Legislation giving the Boeing Co. $120 million in incentives for their expansion plans in South Carolina is one vote away from reaching the governor's desk.

The House voted 115-2 Wednesday to approve the bill. Another vote would send it to Gov. Nikki Haley, who is sure to sign it. The Senate approved the measure last week.

Associated Press

The Boeing Co. will lay off approximately 800 local workers in the Puget Sound area as part of a larger plan to reduce local headcount by 2,000 to 2,300 people, the company said Friday.

Spokesman Doug Alder said affected employees are machinists who handle refurbishment and change incorporation — implementing necessary post-production updates — to the 787 and the 747-8 models.

Jonathan Standridge and Colton Harris-Moore made an odd couple as they sat together in the visiting room of a Washington state prison one day last spring.

Standridge, 57, is a project manager at Boeing, one of the world's most important aviation companies. Harris-Moore, 21, is the "Barefoot Bandit," a world-famous airplane thief who is serving a seven-year sentence after a sensational run from the law in stolen boats, cars and planes.


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.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing has been – until recently – one of the last remaining places in the corporate world where you could still get a pension in retirement. Now Boeing’s technical workers are being asked to drop the pension for new employees – it’s part of a broader strategy at the company.

Boeing’s refusing to make any improvements in the contract it has offered technical workers. The union says it will now put that same offer out for another vote, a move that an analyst characterizes as giving up.

David Shane

Boeing executives say they’re cutting costs out of the defense side of their business to cope with shrinking U.S. military spending.

Here in the Puget Sound region, we associate Boeing with commercial jets. But the company has a massive defense business making everything from radar systems to fighter jets. That side of the business has trimmed billions of dollars in recent years because of declining U.S. military spending.

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.

Elaine Thompson / AP

It's a split decision from the union representing Boeing Co.'s engineers and technical workers.

The engineers voted Tuesday to accept the aerospace company's four-year contract offer while technical workers rejected it and authorized a future strike.

Bill Dugovich of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace says the votes mean the new contract for the 15,550 engineers is in place.

He says negotiators hope to resume contract talks soon on behalf of the 7,400 technical workers.

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.

The problems surrounding Boeing’s flagship 787 Dreamliner are likely to dominate an annual aerospace conference taking place north of Seattle this week.

The conference will draw about 400 people from airplane manufacturers, suppliers and airlines. Conference topics include biofuels, airplane interiors and the health of the airline industry.

But the issue looming over the entire meeting will be how long it will take to fix the Dreamliner’s batteries and get the plane back in the air for passengers.

Airbus may back away from using lithium-ion batteries on its next generation plane. Does that mean Boeing needs to do the same on its Dreamliner? Not necessarily, according to an expert at MIT.

Boeing has hundreds of people working overtime to figure out why the lithium-ion batteries on its Dreamliner are more prone to smoke or fire than the company had thought.

Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel says the company has used lithium-ion batteries in satellites for almost a decade and that they made the most sense for the fuel-efficient, light-weight 787.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

  Boeing engineers in the Pacific Northwest are voting on whether to authorize a strike. The labor dispute is playing out against a dramatic backdrop.

The engineers are needed now more than ever to help fix the batteries on Boeing's flagship 787 Dreamliner.