Boeing "Support" Urged

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Lobbyist Wants Feds To Help 7E7 Project...

Boeing could be betting its commercial aircraft division's future on the new 7E7 (if it's ever built) and an aerospace industry lobbyist wants the government to hedge those bets. John Douglass, CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, told the Associated Press the company shouldn't have to go it alone in creating and selling a world-beater of an airliner. "I'd like to see the government recognize and say that this is our manufacturer, these are American jobs and we're going to do everything we can to make this program successful," Douglass said. Now, Douglass doesn't have an itemized list (yet) of everything the feds could do to get the Dreamliner off the ground but he does suggest a public statement of support for the project by the FAA would be a good start, followed by a streamlined certification process. He stopped short of suggesting a cash subsidy, a la France and Airbus, but ... Other analysts point out there are plenty of ways to put money in the pockets of companies like Boeing without cutting them a check. They point to the $17.2 billion deal to lease 100 Boeing 767s outfitted as air tankers as the sort of indirect subsidy being used to prop up the company. "This really is nothing new ... " said Seattle airline analyst Scott Hamilton. "There's a real long history of Boeing benefiting from government's largesse." Boeing isn't commenting on Douglass' plan until it sees the details. The 7E7 is envisioned as a long-range, ultra-efficient, mid-sized jet that would trump Airbus's A380 super-jumbo jet in the next-generation airliner sweepstakes. A top Airbus salesman has previously stated that any advances in aerodynamics or weight savings found in the 7E7 would likely be minimal and Airbus could counter the long-term efficiency savings in the near-term with lower sales prices. Without government help, Boeing's development costs would likely prevent its matching discounted sales.

...Japan Prepares For Subsidy Program...

But could this good old American know-how end up being stamped Made In Japan? If Japan's three major industrial firms have their way, the country could end up directly subsidizing their effort to build the 7E7 airframe in Japan. Mitsubishi, Kawasaki and Fuji are said to be lobbying their government to declare the 7E7 a "national project" and thus make it eligible for subsidies and loans. Parts of the 767 and 777 are made in Japan under the same national project designation. An industry insider told Reuters the government is almost certain to embrace the 7E7 as well. According to Reuters, only one American company is in the five-way race for the contract to design and build the 7E7 airframe. Vought Aircraft, of Dallas, is said to be battling the three Japanese firms and the Italian state-controlled Alenia Aeronautica. The Italian organization already builds wing parts for Boeings. As other governments and other companies line up for their piece of the 7E7, the fundamental decision facing Boeing is not by whom, but if, the plane will be built. The company's board of directors is expected to make the decision next year with an eye to having the all-composite plane ready for delivery by 2008.

...Boeing Keeps Diversifying

Another 1,440 employees received layoff notices Friday, bringing the total number of job losses to 35,410. The latest round of layoffs takes effect October 24 and most of those affected are in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. But even if Boeing effectively bows out of the airliner business by not pursuing the Dreamliner, it could endear itself to millions worldwide (including us) with a potentially high-flying product that has nothing to do with airplanes. It seems Boeing researchers have devised a "better" anti-spam system with some unique capabilities and the company has spawned a so-called Baby Boeing spinoff called MessageGate. The Boeing system sounds like it works similarly to the plethora of other spaminators on the market for hard-wired computers but it also filters messages on wireless instant-messaging and text-messaging services. Apparently no one else had thought of that and it may be MessageGate's niche in a very crowded market. While Boeing's future is the topic of endless speculation, the grim reality of its present performance continues to take its toll.