Purple plane

United Airlines is taking to the skies to celebrate 10 years of supporting the March of Dimes. The airline took delivery of a new Next-Generation 737-900ER painted in a special purple livery to mark the milestone.

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United’s newest 737-900ER marks its 10 year anniversary of supporting the March of Dimes. All photos by Jim Anderson.

The March of Dimes’ mission is to provide families across the United States with care and valuable information on pregnancy and having healthy babies. United invited customers and partners who’ve donated to the organization to fly from Seattle to Chicago on the delivery flight. Those donors raised more than $780,000 for the March of Dimes.

Boeing also announced a donation for $250,000 to the March of Dimes.

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“Our ‘purple plane’ is more than just a fun and unique paint job - it’s a symbol of the long-standing partnership between our customers and employees and the March of Dimes,” said John Rainey, United’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and the 2015 March for Babies National Chairman. “We know that so many people who fly with us have been touched by the issue of premature birth, and we hope that as customers spot this plane flying around the country, we can bring continued awareness and support to this very important issue.”

Among those on the delivery flight included 12-year old Elijah Jackson, the 2015 March of Dimes National Ambassador, who survived being born nearly four months premature. His mother Elise is a long-time United Airlines employee.

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“Just like our partners at United, Boeing supports organizations that positively impact the communities where our employees live and work,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner. “We’re proud to see this special livery on a Boeing 737 and know it will spread the mission of the March of Dimes to the millions of travelers who will see it at airports across the country.”

Congratulations to United on this new airplane and for your support of the March of Dimes. We’re proud to be a part of this special delivery.

Making history with the MAX

Usually, when presidents are involved with history, they’re the ones making it. But last week, two presidents — Panama President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez and U.S. President Barack Obama - served as witnesses to history when Boeing and Copa Airlines announced an order for 61 of our new 737 MAXs. At $6.6 billion in value at list price, the deal is the largest commercial transaction between a Panamanian and a US-based company ever.

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History being made in Panama City.

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The 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 in Copa livery.

The presidents were together in Panama City along with 33 other heads of state from throughout the Western Hemisphere for the seventh Summit of the Americas. While they were there, they took time to stand witness as Copa Holdings Chairman Stanley Motta, Copa Airlines CEO Pedro Heilbron, Boeing Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney and GE Aviation President and CEO David Joyce signed documents recognizing the agreement.

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The signing documents.

Copa has long been a great partner for Boeing— and a great customer for the 737. The world’s best-selling single-aisle jet is the cornerstone of Copa’s fleet today, and plays a key role in the Panamanian carrier’s business model, connecting people from throughout the hemisphere through Tocumen Airport - an airport Copa calls “The Hub of the Americas.”

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With the MAX order, Copa will build on the Next-Generation 737’s reliability and passenger-pleasing features, while taking advantage of a great leap ahead in fuel efficiency and environmental performance. Copa already flies some of the longest 737 routes in the world. The 737 MAX will give Copa even more range, which will create more opportunities to connect more people from more places throughout the Americas. And on the routes that Copa flies, these 61 airplanes will save 103 million kilograms of fuel per year while emitting 324,000 metric tons less CO2. At the same time, they will be up to 40 percent quieter.

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Congratulations to everybody at Copa for this landmark order.

Isn't it ironic?

This one is a real head scratcher and very ironic. You may have read that Airbus is promoting new seating configurations for its widebody airplanes to give airlines more “choice.”

Apparently abandoning their heavily promoted push for an industry standard 18-inch economy seat width, Airbus is now talking about the A330 at 9-abreast and the A350 at 10-abreast. The last time I checked, Airbus cross sections hadn’t changed. So the only “choice” the competition is offering is the opportunity to squeeze passengers into the industry’s smallest seats.

Airbus has tried to gain market acceptance for 9-abreast A330’s several times over the years, and each time it has been soundly rejected by airlines with scheduled service. Tourist and charter operators have moved away from this configuration simply because it’s uncomfortable.

The proposed seats and aisles are too narrow. There’s limited head and shoulder clearance at the window seat due to the cross section at the sidewall. In other words, Airbus penalizes the window passenger twice on a 9-abreast A330. They may have done the impossible—making the middle seat more preferable than the window! The A350 at 10-abreast would be even worse — with even smaller seats, aisles and armrests for all.

Contrast that with the 777. Its wider fuselage allows for more seats in each row while still providing a good passenger experience. Airline acceptance of the 777 at 10-abreast has continued to grow over the years, now accounting for over 50 percent of recent 777 deliveries. And the 777 continues to win passenger preference awards year after year.

While we can all dream of an airplane that offers 1-abreast seating, the reality is that airlines need to the flexibility to optimize their configurations. And Boeing offers just that, with our focus on designs that make economic sense to airlines while providing a passenger-preferred experience.

Dynamic market

It’s been said before and I’ll say it again: China is a crucial market for Boeing today and far into the future. With longstanding carriers expanding international service and new startup and low-cost carriers expanding domestic routes, we see the need for more than 6,000 new airplanes in the country over the next 20 years.

Here are some stats that speak volumes about our engagement in China. Last year, Boeing gained orders and commitments for more than 400 airplanes from Chinese customers. We also set a company record for the most commercial airplanes delivered to China: 155 airplanes - a remarkable one out of every five commercial airplanes produced in Boeing factories.

Over the next 20 years, China will become the world’s largest domestic air travel market with many airlines serving China’s expanding middle class. Just last year, five startups and low-cost carriers — Donghai Airlines, Ruili Airlines, Urumqi Air, Fuzhou Airlines and 9 Air - launched services with new Boeing 737s.

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A 737 for Ruili Airlines.

Four Chinese airlines introduced new Boeing widebody airplanes to serve international routes: China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines began service with their first 777-300ERs. Xiamen Airlines introduced its first 787-8. And the flagship carrier Air China became the first airline in Asia to operate the 747-8 Intercontinental.

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A 747-8 for Air China.

Boeing also continues to expand mutually beneficial partnerships to support the development and long-term growth of China’s commercial aviation industry. We’re working closely with Chinese suppliers that meet our needs for quality, affordability and on-time performance. And we’re partnering with airlines, government agencies and other stakeholders to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint, such as Hainan Airlines’ recent flight using aviation biofuel.

I’m excited about future opportunities for Boeing and our customers in China and look forward to my next visit.

Delivering in 2015

As the first quarter of the year comes to an end, here’s a look at our total Orders & Deliveries, along with my observations.

Net Orders: 110

Deliveries: 184

On the orders side, it’s worth noting that we booked 30 new 787 orders in the last week of March alone.

With 184 deliveries in the quarter, we delivered 23 more airplanes than we did in the same period last year. That total includes 30 Dreamliners.

These numbers show we continue to execute on our production rate increases. That’s especially important as we begin final assembly of the new 737 MAX later this year.

Congratulations to the entire Boeing team on a strong first quarter as we continue getting airplanes into the hands of our customers.

 

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