Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Long Beach Hoping To Capture 737-MAX Production

If we'd been around at the time, we would have found Daugherty Field just about the most exciting place imaginable. This was where young pilots in rickety flying machines created an environment that changed aviation history.

That dirt field evolved into the home airport for Douglas Aircraft, which went on to build some of the world's most celebrated airplanes. After a merger with Boeing, the last of the commercial jets, the 717, left the Long Beach assembly lines five years ago, and only the C-17 military airlifter remains in production.

But the manufacture of commercial planes could return to Southern California once again if the Boeing Co., against some considerable odds, chooses the former 717 facility for its expansion plans.

The company needs to refurbish or otherwise create an assembly plant to turn out an updated version of its enormously successful 737. The new model, to be called the 737 MAX, will have new, more efficient engines and other improvements, and be ready for delivery probably in 2014.

Ramping up will require an expanded and refurbished assembly plant, either in Renton, Wash., where the 737 is assembled now, or in another location, such as the million-square-foot 717 facility. The company is assessing which location would make the most business sense.

To their credit, members of the Long Beach City Council decided Tuesday to do everything possible to persuade Boeing that bringing commercial aviation back to Long Beach also is in the company's interest. Also to their credit, they seem determined not to politicize the process.

That's a challenge, since several are busily campaigning for higher office. But it's important, because companies looking for investment opportunities count political dysfunction on the negative side of the ledger.

Boeing already has about 500 orders for the new model, and plans to get as much as half of a market for that size plane which, at $78 million each for the next 20 years, could be worth a trillion dollars.

That's a lot, even for Boeing, and it is very far removed from the air-show days of long ago at Daugherty Field. But how fitting it would be to bring that business home.

7 comments:

Darryl Bustamante said...

Nice idea, but it will never happen.

First, if Boeing thinks the Labor Unions are any nicer down here, they are sorely mistaken. Second, the Bumbling Boobs at the City of Long Beach will find a way to fumble this ball BIG TIME!

They always do.

David said...

I'm not hopeful about this either. I remember when the Seattle unions threw a fit when Boeing proposed sending 10 737NGs down to Long Beach for finishing work.

Anthony Frost said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony Frost said...

We will see how this develops

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