The 100 767-based tankers that are going to be bought and leased by the Air Force are still on hold pending an investigation launched after the corruption and dirty dealing surrounding the plan were treated with bleeding and amputations.
Ethical lapses that battered Boeing’s reputation last year didn’t damage the company’s finances, as Boeing yesterday reported a fourth-quarter profit of $1.1 billion aided by a tax refund. For 2003, profit jumped 42 percent to $698 million even though sales fell 6 percent to $50.5 billion.
Well, that should teach them a lesson.
Still, Chief Executive Harry Stonecipher said one of his top priorities remains “dealing with this perception that we’re a bunch of crooks.”
‹sarcasm›An edition of the Encyclopaedia Galactica that had the good fortune to fall through a time warp from a thousand years in the future defined the Boeing Corporation as “a bunch of crooks.”‹/sarcasm›
Stonecipher is continuing to meet with Boeing critics at the Department of Defense and in Congress, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who opposes a plan for the Air Force to buy and lease 100 767 refueling tankers from Boeing.
“I … told (Sen. McCain), ‘I want to talk with you about how we get Boeing and myself out of the penalty box,’ ” Stonecipher said. He added he believes the tanker deal will go ahead, but not before an investigation by the Pentagon inspector general is over.
2003 was the first year ever that commercial aircraft were not Boeing’s biggest business. (Actually, is that really right? I’d think that the early to mid-1940s may have been pretty big, military-wise, for Boeing.) With the tanker deal, as well as the Army’s Future Combat System and the National Missile Defense getting budget boosts, the military will continue to be big for Boeing as commercial aircraft sales remain sluggish.
There have been rumors that Boeing might try to sell its Wichita, KS, assembly plant, but a memo from the plant’s general manager Jeff Turner referencing a visit and remarks by Stonecipher tried to quash it. The Wichita plant will perform the tanker conversions to the 767s before delivery to the Air Force. Assuming the program moves ahead.