Update, July 8: Dominic Gates is back from vacation and has this important insight about the “poker game” now underway between Boeing and the IAM. Gates also has this story about the purchase of the Vought facility with new information.
Andrea James of The Seattle PI has this piece about Washington State’s effort to keep Boeing.
We now have some additional color on the prospect of a Line 2 location.
According to a person with some knowledge of the situation, Boeing has yet to make a decision on the location (which is consistent with what we’ve been reporting, even as we think the odds currently favor Charleston). We are told Boeing is considering four sites: Everett (where the 787 is assembled now), Charleston, San Antonio and a fourth location our source did not know. Speculation is that it might be Long Beach, where the C-17 is made and there is a workforce already skilled in airplane assembly. The union there is the UAW, which has proved easier to work with than the IAM 751 local in Seattle. However, the California business climate is hardly any more friendly, and perhaps much less so, than that in Washington.
Charleston, while a logical favorite, requires a workforce that is more skilled than currently trained and would likely require importing large numbers of the skill labor required for the complex task of assembling airplanes, we are told.
Further, Alenia still owns 50% of Global Aeronautica, the other major facility at Charleston. (Boeing previously purchased Vought’s 50% share.) Our expert source on this believes Boeing should buy out Alenia and have total control of all the Charleston facilities before proceeding with a Line 2 decision.
Charleston has 75% of the fuselage production now. Wings would have to be transported to Charleston for a Line 2, which is no small task, but overall logistics would be simplified by eliminating the need to transport major sections to Seattle, with costs reduced accordingly. But, our source said, a lot of work will be necessary to make Charleston a world-class integration facility.
There is plenty of land available at Charleston. While there have been unconfirmed reports that Boeing Real Estate people are already there buying up land and preparing to file for the permits, our source says this isn’t necessary. Our source says that once Boeing gave the word, the state could buy up the land and there wouldn’t be any need for Boeing to overtly be involved.
Our source believes that Boeing has not completed the studies necessary to site Line 2 and that there will likely be real competition among the four sites to win the business. Our source believes that Puget Sound has a chance at retaining Line 2, calling it “salvageable.”