Editor's Column: Boeing’s next airplane project

What’s next for Boeing, now that its highly successful Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been unveiled? To find out, all we have to do is ask Mr. Aviation Answer Man.

Q: What is Boeing’s next project?

A: Having satisfied the demand for trouble-free, pleasant flights with the 787, Boeing is now eyeing the youth market. Millions of youth spend their time flying around the globe seeking various thrills, such as mountain climbing, river rafting, jungle hiking, base jumping and other dangerous activities, as long as they don’t involve Iraq. So Boeing is designing an airplane to appeal to thrill-seekers.

Q: What will they call it?

A: The airplane will be called the Boeing 666 Screamliner.

Q: What are some of its most interesting features?

A: The logo will feature the first pilot, Jack Nicholson, looking his demonic best in a captain’s cap. Possible Screamliner mottos include “We Fly Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “We’ll get you there in one piece, maybe more.” Passengers will be exposed to various in-flight stunts, including the loop under, loop over, loop-de-loop, and the airbag special. Disembarking passengers, if any, will be presented a souvenir button stating, “I Survived the Screamliner.”

Q: Sounds like fun, but it might be expensive to build a jetliner that can survive so much stress with the likes of Jack Nicholson at the controls.

A: That’s precisely why Boeing is going back to the Washington State Legislature for help. Remember, Boeing got $4 billion in tax breaks for 1,000 Dreamliner assembly jobs, which works out to a tax subsidy of $4 million per job. Almost all the actual work was parted out to other states and countries, but the 1,000 workers in Washington get to bolt the thing together.

Q: So what will Boeing demand to assemble the Screamliner in Washington?

A: Another $4 billion, which will allow them to lay off everyone but Gus Johnson, the company’s senior machinist with 42 years’ experience. The Screamliner’s last bolt will be tightened by Gus in Everett, in a ceremony watched worldwide in factories where the plane was actually built.

Q: Isn’t $4 billion a lot for Gus?

A: That’s why the Legislature insisted that Boeing build it in Washington.

Q: The Screamliner?

A: No, the bolt. Gus will make it in his spare time. Proud legislators will brag that they saved airplane assembly for Washington State and created a new bolt-building industry as a byproduct. Nobody will question the cost, it’s unpatriotic.

Q: What happens when Gus retires?

A: Boeing will turn its Everett plant, which is the world’s largest building by volume, into the world’s largest espresso stand. Assuming the Legislature steps up and pays for the coffee and the baristas, of course.

Q: The Screamliner sounds great, despite the cost to the average taxpayer. But will Airbus sit back and let Boeing dominate the thrill-seeker market?

A: Fat chance. The Europeans are already working on something called the Airbus Terrorist Express. If they get the pilot they want, it’ll make the Screamliner experience feel like a kiddie carnival ride.

Q: Who’s that?

A: Dick Cheney.

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