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Boeing defends on 787 Dreamliner doubts

Reuters via The Age
Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner is on target for its first test flight this summer, but the US aircraft maker is pushing hard to keep its most successful plane launch ever on schedule despite teething problems caused by its revolutionary design.

The world’s first large-scale carbon composite passenger aircraft, which has racked up more than $US60 billion ($A77.8 billion) worth of orders in just under three years on the market, is still too heavy and Boeing is having to help struggling suppliers.

Boeing is the United States’ biggest manufacturing exporter, and its financial future rests squarely on the success of the new jet. Boeing’s 787 project is unprecedented in the amount of production being handed over to other companies, many of them abroad. Boeing is focusing on assembling the parts at its Everett, Washington, facilities near Seattle.

The Japanese “heavies” – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd – are building key parts of the carbon composite fuselage, wing box and wing. Global Aeronautica, a joint venture between Alenia and Vought Aircraft Industries Inc, is putting together more than 60 per cent of the fuselage in South Carolina, after components have been flown in from around the world. Alenia is part of Italian aerospace group Finmeccanica and Vought is majority owned by private equity firm Carlyle Group. ..
(1 Feb 2007)
Contributor SP points out:
– this company is the largest manufacturer in the US
– the entire industry is dependant on cheap oil
– not only do the planes in operation use large amounts of oil, but parts for their construction are flown in from around the world.
It would be interesting to compare to the Airbus construction stream.

More on the problems in High Performance Composites and Business Week.

Tunnel a $60m super black hole

Simon Benson, Daily Telegraph (Aus)
THE Cross City Tunnel has claimed its final victims _ 158,586 public servants and taxpayers, now exposed to a $60 million black hole in the state superannuation fund.

The Daily Telegraph has learned thousands of teachers, nurses, police and bureaucrats have had $60 million wiped from their retirement fund by the tunnel’s [financial] collapse. ..

The fund is managed by Deutsche Bank, which is also one of the key lenders for the doomed project that went into the hands of receivers KordaMentha in December – owing the bank consortium $560 million.

The write-down follows the loss of $100 million incurred by key investor, Hong Kong based Cheung Kong Infrastructure. ..
(31 Jan 2007)
Contributor David Bell writes: What will the fate of Private motorways be in a peak oil and carbon constrained future – is this the sign of things for this type of transport infrastructure investment to come?

Toll Road Giant Buys Newspapers to Silence Critics

The Newspaper (“A journal of the politics of driving”)
Critics charge that the Macquarie purchase of American Consolidated Media is designed to silence critics of a Texas toll road project.

Trans Texas CorridorAustralian toll road giant Macquarie agreed Wednesday to purchase forty local newspapers, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma, for $80 million. Macquarie Bank is Australia’s largest capital raising firm and has invested billions in purchasing roads in the US, Canada and UK. Most recently the company joined with Cintra Concesiones of Spain in a controversial 75-year lease of the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road.

Sal Costello, the leading opponent of toll road projects as head of the Texas Toll Party, says the move is directly related to a 4000-mile toll road project known as the Trans-Texas Corridor. It will cost between $145 and $183 billion to construct the road, expected to be up to 1200 feet wide, requiring the acquisition of 9000 square miles of land in the areas through which it will pass.

“The newspapers are the main communication tool for many of the rural Texan communities, with many citizens at risk of losing their homes and farms through eminent domain,” Costello wrote.

Many of the small papers purchased, most have a circulation of 5000 or less, have been critical of the Trans-Texas Corridor. An article in the Bonham Journal for example, states, “The toll roads will be under control of foreign investors, which more than frustrates Texans.”
(26 Jan 2007)
From Big Gav who comments:

I see Australia’s premier investment bank is causing a little stir in parts of Texas with some novel tactics for influencing debate about toll road policy – it will be interesting to see how our premier exponents of the art of capitalism fare in the Texas political system (I guess we should also be worried about what new tricks they’ll learn and bring back home)….Maybe now they’ll understand how Bolivians feel…