Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sooner than I thought-Vaya con dios, Globemaster.

In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, it is reported that the Defense Department has asked for $265 million in next year's budget to mothball the tooling and equipment used in the manufacture of the Boeing (Douglas) C-17 Globemaster III. At present, 140 or so have been delivered to the Air Force and the R.A.F., and the total order book is about 180. Unless the order book is extended, that will be the end of the line for the Douglas plant. When the C17 line dies, it will be the end of heavy aircraft manufacturing in southern California, once the world's center of gravity to the trade.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-boeing7jan07,1,7405527.story?coll=la-headlines-business

More recently, in the proceedings of a supplier conference reported in the Independent Press Telegram, Boeing gave mixed signals as to what it plans to do if the program is not extended. As one might expect in this day and age, it was reported that the meeting focused on-what else?-what suppliers could do to cut costs.

http://www.presstelegram.com/news/ci_3393564

My advice to anyone working at the facility would be "Stop spending money-take as much overtime as they give you-bank your cash and start thinking about what you're going to do when the plant closes."

I suggested when I started this blog that the entire history of the acquisition of McDonnell Douglas by Boeing was heavy with portents of hard times for the industry in the Basin, and I do not think I was being insufficiently sanguine in that prediction. It's been clear from "jump street" that the acquisition was never intended to utilize the capacity and resources of the Long Beach plant. Rather, eliminating that hated, pesky Southern California rival was the game all along.

In a play on an old aphorism, my mother used to say "Time wounds all heels." Let us hope it is so.

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