United’s A350 ambitions; the 777’s unlikely fans; SPEEA’s OT threat

United Airlines is considering an order for Airbus’ A350-1000 jets to replace older Boeing 747s, Bloomberg News reported this morning.

United’s order could depend on what Boeing does with its upgrade on the 777, known as the 777X. But Boeing hasn’t launched that aircraft yet and only says the jet would likely enter service near the end of the decade, years behind the A350-1000.

Boeing and United also made headlines this week over 787 deliveries. United warned customers last week that many flights scheduled for its Boeing Co. 787s would be flown with different aircraft.

“Our first 787 is still expected to enter commercial service on November 4, but other deliveries of 787 aircraft will be delayed,” the carrier said.

Analyst Scott Hamilton provided some possible reasons for the delay on his blog.

Boeing delivered the airline’s second 787 yesterday. A company spokesman told the Seattle Times that the delivery was delayed by a “matter of days.”

Boeing’s 777 also has drawn attention recently for some of its unlikely fans: pop stars and Hobbits.

Singer Rihanna announced her 777 tour: seven cities in seven days to promote her seventh album. And, yes, she’ll be flying on a 777.

Air New Zealand also is putting in a plug for the 777. In July, the carrier agreed to turn two 777s into flying billboards to promote “The Hobbit” film that’s to be released later this year.

Air New Zealand released yesterday a new Middle-Earth inspired safety video:

Finally, contract talks between the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace and Boeing will continue today. The two made minor progress yesterday.

SPEEA members at Boeing’s Duwamish site voted Tuesday to begin refusing voluntary overtime, the union said in a statement. Those members are encouraging others to follow in their footsteps.

The union outlined steps for turning down voluntary overtime on its website.

For their part, Boeing negotiators had this to say in their Wednesday update: “in order to keep these negotiations on track, effort and movement will be required on both sides.”

The tone coming out of Wednesday’s meeting was less upbeat than when Boeing and SPEEA met last week. After their second meeting for the week, last Thursday, the two released the same statement noting the talks had been “productive.”

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