Boeing exec: Selection process narrowing for 777X

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Associated Press

Posted on December 17, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 17 at 3:00 PM

SEATTLE (AP) — A Boeing executive said Tuesday the company is narrowing its options as it searches for a place to build the 777X passenger plane.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner also told employees in a message that the machinists union's rejection of a new contract proposal that would have the planes built in the Puget Sound area was disappointing.

"It was a rejection, plain and simple, and we now have to turn and face the reality of the union leadership's final decision," Conner said.

Local union leaders have said they didn't see the point of bringing the latest offer to a vote because it was too similar to one that was previously rejected. Of particular concern, union officials balked at Boeing's insistence that workers move from a traditional pension plan to a 401(k)-style retirement plan.

Conner said Boeing has received 777X proposals from 22 states covering 54 sites. The company is looking to narrow its options this week to "a handful" of sites, Conner said.

Local union leaders have faced pressure in recent days for declining to put Boeing's last offer to a vote. Some Machinists in the Puget Sound are planning to rally Wednesday in favor of a vote, and political leaders have also said union members should have a chance to determine the fate of the contract offer.

Production of Boeing's 777X would likely bring thousands of well-paying jobs to whatever region wins the work. The plane is a new iteration of its strong-selling 777, and the company recently received orders for 225 new 777X planes from three airlines at the Dubai Airshow.

Boeing began offering the 777X in May, but it's still finalizing plans for the plane and aiming to deliver the first aircraft by the end of the decade. Boeing has said it is expected to carry as many as 400 passengers and be more fuel efficient than the current 777.

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AP Writer Mike Baker can be reached on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/HiPpEV

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