Tuesday morning's headlines

Mar 15, 2011

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Boeing Readies for 747-8 First Flight
  • Dozens of Mudslides Block Rail Lines
  • Microsoft's Zune Sails Away


First Flight Plans for 747-8

Boeing's newest passenger jet could make its maiden voyage as early as Sunday.  The Herald of Everett Michelle Dunlop reports the  only obstacles are some tests on taxiing the plane and a thumbs-up from the Federal Aviation Administration:

"The team continues to do great work to get the 747-8 Intercontinental into the air," said Elizabeth Lund, vice president and general manager, 747 program. "It'll be a great day for the team when the airplane flies."

In the run-up to first flight, Boeing conducted flight simulation tests last weekend. The freighter version of the 747-8 is already in the air for tests, Dunlop writes. Initial deliveries of the freighter jets are scheduled by year's end.


30 Mudslides Keep Trains Halted

The number of slides over Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks will keep rail traffic shut down through Thursday between Everett and Seattle, according to The Associated Press. 

Another major slide occurred in south Everett last night, and was too dangerous to have workers attempt to clear it overnight, according to BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas.  Sounder Northline commuter trains are not running; buses are carrying passengers instead. Amtrak service continues to be affected.

In southwest Washington's Vancouver area, passenger trains are not expected to run again until late tomorrow due to more mudslides, which automatically trigger a 48-hour closure for safety.


Zune into the Sunset

Microsoft's giving up its Zune. The music software, launched in 2006, faded in sales to market-dominant Apple. GeekWire's Todd Bishop reports the company will continue to sell existing Zune products, but not create new ones:

The decision comes less than five years after Microsoft launched the device in competition with Apple’s iPod. The latest version of the hardware, the Zune HD, was well-received by fans. However, the company never gained the type of market share that would have made it a serious player in the market.

Bloomburg first reported Microsoft's decision, though reporter Dina Bass writes leaders in Redmond declined to comment, beyond an email statement:

“We are thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360. Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms.”