Boeing

Boeing is scrambling to figure out why batteries malfunctioned on its 787, prompting officials to ground the airplane this month. And at a time when Boeing most needs its skilled engineers, they're weighing a possible strike. Union leaders are considering the company's final contract offer.

The standoff between Boeing and about 23,000 engineers and technicians — mostly in the Seattle region — has been brewing for months. Dozens of them recently packed a union hall south of Seattle for training in how to run a picket line.

Associated Press

Boeing has begun work on the first of the 737s that will roll out of the Renton factory at a rate of 38 per month.

The company gave reporters and photographers a look at the line Tuesday as production increases from 35 planes a month.

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.

NTSB

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.

Boeing has raised its salary offer to its engineers and technicians, but the union is still complaining that it doesn’t adequately compensate its members.

Federal mediators have been brokering talks this week between the company and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, or SPEEA.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The national economy will continue to climb out of the recession this year, and the Puget Sound region is forecast to do even better. That’s the word from an economic forecast conference in Seattle. 

SPEEA

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.

SPEEA

Boeing engineers and the company are supposed to meet with a federal mediator today – but union leaders say the two sides are still far apart. Looming over the negotiations is a memory that's 13 years old, but still fresh for many.

In early 2000, Boeing engineers and technicians did what nobody expected them to do – walk off the job and stay off.

© Edgar Turner

Boeing is confirming that a fire on one of its new 787s appears to have started in a battery, as scrutiny of the problem increases.

Also Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said it will send two more investigators to Boston to examine the Japan Airlines plane. The NTSB says the battery had "severe fire damage."

The fire happened on the ground Monday, with no passengers on board. But in-flight fires can be catastrophic, so the matter is getting close scrutiny by aviation authorities.

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.

AP

CHICAGO (AP) — Boeing Co. says it will buy back $1.5 billion to $2 billion of its shares next year, and it is boosting its dividend.

Boeing says the buybacks and higher dividend are possible because it is generating cash and has a positive growth outlook.

Boeing shareholders have been waiting to benefit from its new 787 plane.

The share repurchases will use up the rest of the money authorized for that purpose by Boeing's board in 2007. Boeing also raised its dividend 10 percent, to 48.5 cents per share.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Contract talks between Boeing and its engineers union are suspended till after the new year. But the union, SPEEA, is not standing still - they're training picket captains for a possible strike.

The Associated Press

After months of unsuccessful contract negotiations, Boeing says it wants a federal mediator to help resolve its contract dispute with SPEEA, the union that represents about 23,000 engineers and technicians in the Puget Sound region.

The union representing Boeing engineers is moving closer to a strike authorization. That’s because union leadership is frustrated with the aerospace giant’s second contract offer.

Boeing is now offering higher annual wage increases than its first proposal, which 96 percent of engineers and technicians rejected. But the increases are still lower than the current contract. That’s one reason the union – known as SPEEA – is disappointed.

mekiaries

Everyone from Boeing to fish processors and apple growers stands to benefit if the U.S. normalizes trade relations with Russia. That’s coming up for a vote Friday in the House of Representatives.

Russia joined the World Trade Organization in August and lowered a whole bunch of tariffs on things like airplanes and fish.

Boeing is encouraging its suppliers to attend a workshop next month to learn how to outsource business to Mexico.

In a blast from the past, the public radio show Bullseye dug up Seattle’s connection to the first video showing the genesis of computer-generated images or graphics in movies.

In 1980, Boeing employee and University of Washington graduate Loren Carpenter presented a two-minute computer generated movie call “Vol Libre” that almost immediately revolutionized moviemaking.

The Associated Press

Here’s a solution for space junk – gas it.

A Boeing engineer from Seattle, Michael Dunn, has filed a patent for a method of dragging parts, pieces and defunct satellites into the atmosphere where they will burn up.

Geek speak: “… the method comprising hastening orbital decay of the debris by creating a transient gaseous cloud at an altitude of at least 100 km above Earth, the cloud having a density sufficient to slow the debris so the debris falls into Earth's atmosphere,” according to the document.

Boeing's union of engineers and technical workers has rejected the aerospace giant's first contract offer in ballots tallied Monday night.

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.

The Associated Press

Some Boeing retirees fear they could be in danger of losing their medical coverage under a new contract the company has proposed to its engineers' union, SPEEA.

Update 9-26 – Boeing sent out the following response this morning by email: "Boeing has no plans to eliminate retiree medical benefits for current retirees. If we’d had the opportunity to discuss our proposal with the union, we could have clarified that we did not intend to change the status quo with respect to retiree medical benefits. Regrettably, SPEEA has chosen to sensationalize the issue and cause unnecessary concern."

Andrew W. Sieber / Flickr

An aviation analyst says some Boeing engineers and technical workers are preparing for a work slowdown amid increasingly contentious contract negotiations. The union, called SPEEA, is telling members to reject Boeing’s offer, saying the raises the company is offering are disrespectful.

The Associated Press

Boeing has delivered a contract proposal to its engineers, and an analyst says they may be disappointed. The long-awaited proposal offers pay increases that are less than half what the union wanted.

Andrew W. Sieber / Flickr

The union representing Boeing engineers and technicians has filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the company, charging that Boeing is trying to muzzle its union members as contract negotiations heat up.

The complaint filed yesterday with the National Labor Relations Board in Seattle says Boeing has threatened union members with discipline if they speak to each other about wages, hours and working conditions.

Boeing spokesman Tim Healy said the company hadn't yet seen the complaint, but he disputed the union's claim, saying no one from Boeing told employees not to discuss working conditions or wages with each other.

Boeing had a triumphant announcement today - a big order from United Continental for its 737 narrow-body airplanes, which are made in Renton. United is buying 150 737s, Boeing's popular single-aisle jet. Two-thirds of those planes will be the newest version – the 737MAX, which Boeing announced last August.

Boeing was rushing to catch up with its rival Airbus, which had already announced hundreds of orders for its new narrow-body plane, the A320neo. Randy Tinseth is a vice president of marketing for Boeing.

clidstrom

Boeing says the world will need 34,000 new airplanes over the next 20 years, mostly driven by increasing demand from Asia.

Boeing has to plan 20 years down the line in an industry where designing and building a plane can take almost a decade. The company says it expects airlines will want even more single-aisle airplanes, like its 737s, which are made in Renton.

The Associated Press

CHICAGO — The head of Boeing's commercial airplanes division is retiring.

Jim Albaugh has run the biggest division at Boeing for almost three years. He was brought in at a time when its expensive new plane, the 787, was struggling with delays.

EVERETT, Wash. — An unknown amount of jet fuel spilled into the soil when a tanker-trailer overturned after it collided with a train at a crossing on Boeing property near Paine Field in Everett.

Images courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry

Maybe you’ve heard the line, "Will the last person leaving Seattle turn out the lights." That well-worn phrase came from a billboard in 1971 as the Boeing Company stalled and then fell into a tailspin.

And while the "Boeing Bust" happened a long time ago, that economic slump, almost as much as the most recent one, is still a part of our collective consciousness.

Why does it still resonate all these years later?

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?

Boeing launched its new iPad app today – 'Milestones in Innovation.’ The app is free and available on iTunes.

The app carries images and information from nine decades of aviation innovation. You can find 10 of those moments in the story below.

Pages