Mitsubishi proposes to build 777X wings in Japan: source

Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:28pm EST
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By Tim Kelly and Kentaro Sugiyama

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy (7011.T: Quote) has suggested a cost-saving way to build the wings of Boeing Co's (BA.N: Quote) newest jet that could offer the planemaker a "Plan B" should its own workers reject a labor deal, a person with knowledge of the proposal said.

Details of the unsolicited proposal to make the wings in Japan emerged on the eve of a crucial vote by 31,000 Boeing workers on a contract that may determine whether the 777X is built in Washington state, its historic plane-building hub.

Boeing has said that if its machinists reject a proposed eight-year pact it will open talks on alternative locations for the assembly of the jet's fuselage and composite wings - the longest ever designed for a U.S.-manufactured airliner.

With Seattle-area workers given a first chance to vote on plans for a new jetliner, discussions between Boeing and other potential partners have not yet started and no concrete offer is on the table, several people close to the process said.

But Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which already makes wings for the 787 Dreamliner, has outlined to Boeing in detail how a new plant could be built alongside its existing 787 wing facility in the port city of Nagoya, the person told Reuters.

It has also presented a detailed blueprint that sets out significant cost savings by transforming the way in which the advanced carbon-composite wing panels are transported.

The person with knowledge of the plan said Mitsubishi has proposed building a fleet of five "Roll On-Roll Off" cargo ships capable of transporting sections of the 777X wing.

This would be cheaper than the outsized "Dreamlifter" planes used to transport 787 wing panels, the source said.   Continued...