SPEEA Calls on Boeing to Give Up 787 “Outsourcing”

 - September 3, 2008, 6:26 AM

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) has publicly called on Boeing to “face the fact that the global network is a failure and bring the critical work back so the experienced employees can get the 787 back on track.”

SPEEA seized on a report last week in the Puget Sound Business Journal that the company planned to assign full-time Boeing inspectors to some 12 key suppliers to reduce flaws and maintain quality. The appeal comes more than a year after the ceremonial roll-out of the 787 on July 4 last year. Schedules now call for first flight to occur this November.

“Continued statements that everything is fine with the 787 global supply network just don’t fly,” said Ray Goforth, executive director of SPEEA.

Boeing fully embraced the new approach, under which it handed subcontractors more responsibility for designing and integrating large sections of airframe and systems, with the launch of the 787 in 2004. Eventually, said Boeing, the process would allow it to assemble an airplane in as little as three days. However, after three separate program delays due largely to complications related to so-called “traveled work”–or work on parts not finished as planned before they arrived at Boeing for final assembly–the first airframe remains unfinished, and it now faces a new threat to projected first flight in November from a possible strike by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. That union, which represents 27,000 employees in Washington, Oregon and Kansas, plans to conduct a strike vote today.

Not coincidentally, on October 28 SPEEA begins main table negotiations with Boeing on behalf of 21,000 employees in Washington, Kansas, Oregon, Utah and California. Negotiations begin in May for 700 engineers at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita.