Michael Mecham mecham@aviationweek.com

Michael Mecham mecham@aviationweek.com
Speea Technical Unit To Vote A Second Time On Boeing Contract 
The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace’s Technical Unit leadership is scheduled to meet Friday to approve a second vote on a contract offer from Boeing rejected by members early last week. (Photo: John Croft)
Speea Engineers Approve Contract, But Technicians Vote To Strike 
After seven months of negotiations that grew so bitter federal mediators had to intercede, Boeing’s engineers have agreed to accept the company’s four-year contract offer, although its technical workers voted to reject their offer and authorized a strike.
Kepler Locates Moon-Sized Planet 
As if further evidence of its resolving power was needed, NASA’s Kepler planet finder has located a planet circling a star similar to the Sun that is only slightly larger than the Moon.
Eurocopter Joins Manufacturing Club In Mexico 
Eurocopter fulfilled an offset obligation with the opening of a 12,000-sq.-meter (129,167-sq.-ft.) factory in Mexico that will supply Airbus commercial jets and its own Ecureil family of light multi-purpose helicopters.
American Formally Orders Boeing MAXs, 787s

American Airlines has formally completed orders for 145 aircraft from Boeing that date to 2008.

The largest portion of the firm order is for 100 Boeing 737 MAXs that American committed to in July 2011, when it unveiled a then unprecedented narrowbody order with Airbus and Boeing that also marked the launch of the MAX program.

American ordered 100 Boeing 737 NGs at the same time.

Speea Seeks Strike Vote 
The Boeing engineers union will hold a ballot on the company's latest contract offer, and will also vote on strike authorization.
International Orders, Higher Build Rates Help Boeing Defense
Defense aircraft orders from international customers have grown to 41% of Boeing’s total backlog and account for 24% of Boeing Defense, Space & Security’s current backlog, the company reported in a 2012 earnings call Jan. 30. (Photo: Boeing)
Boeing Looks Beyond 787 Woes 

Boeing said a “highly compartmentalized” engineering staff is keeping its new programs—the 737 MAX and long-range 787-9—on track even as it tackles battery safety issues that have grounded the world 787 fleet.

Final assembly of the long-range 787-9 and the “firm configuration” check-off for the design of the 737 MAX remain on schedule for mid-year, Boeing CEO James McNerney said today in a 2012 earnings call. First 787-9 delivery to Air New Zealand is set for early next year and the first of the MAXs to Southwest Airlines in 2017.

Engineers Delay Strike Vote Against Boeing 

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (Speea) has pushed back a vote on a new four-year contact with Boeing until Feb. 18 at the earliest, about two weeks later than originally planned.

The 10-member Speea negotiating panel, however, still is expected to recommend a “no” vote on the contract and ask its 22,900 engineer and technical members at Boeing Commercial Airplanes factories in California, Oregon, Utah and Washington to authorize a strike.

Strike Vote Likely Against Boeing 
Negotiators for Boeing’s 15,500 unionized engineers and 7,400 technical workers are expected to seek authority to strike after recommending a “no” vote on the “best and final” contract offer made by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. (Photo: Boeing)
Boeing, Speea Negotiations Resume 

A sweetened pay proposal made by Boeing late last week will get a frosty reception from the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (Speea) Wednesday afternoon when talks resume on a four-year contract.

American Outlines Order Plans

In a Jan. 14 Security and Exchange Commission filing, American Airlines says it has agreed to new contracts with Boeing and Airbus to buy re-engined 737 and A320 single-aisle jets.

The new agreements are part of American’s federal bankruptcy filing and must be approved by the court before the contracts with the manufacturers can be signed.

American is keeping its original intent to purchase 100 737 MAXs but has reduced its options to 60 from 100.

Korean Air 777F Marks New Production Rate 

Boeing this week reached another milestone in its production rate increase when a 777 freighter destined for Korean Air rolled out of the manufacturer’s Everett, Wash., factory.

Now in the paint shop, the freighter was the first produced under Boeing’s 8.3-aircraft-per-month production rate, a pace that will result in building 100 of the twin-engine widebody jets a year. Last year, Boeing delivered 83 777s, at a rate of 6.9 a month.

Sofia Spots Black Hole's Rim

About 4-6 million years ago, “something big” happened at the center of the Milky Way and NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (Sofia) has brought back the latest pictures.

The “something big” was bursts of energy that created the Quintuplet Cluster (QC), Central Cluster and other massive star clusters at the center of the galaxy, says Matt Hankins of the University of Central Arkansas, lead author of a paper presented this week to the American Astronomical Society’s meeting in Long Beach, Calif., on an unprecedented view of that event.

IRIS Solar Mission Passes Milestone 
Final prelaunch tests will begin Jan. 11 for NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission now that Lockheed Martin Space Systems has completed integrating the science instruments with the spacecraft at its Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif.
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