'Big spray can'

The same kind of airplane that has transported U.S. presidents, rock bands and countless passengers all over the world will soon have another claim to fame.

A modified 747-400 freighter is about join the firefighting ranks. With the capacity to carry nearly 20,000 gallons of water, fire retardant, gel or foam, it’s the first 747-400 to be used for that purpose.


A converted 747-400 freighter stands ready to fight fires around the world. Marian Lockhart photo.

This particular airplane rolled out of our Everett factory in November 1991 as a passenger jet, and later became a Boeing-converted freighter. It was in Seattle this week after a few days of water-drop testing near Moses Lake.

Pending certification by the FAA next month, it will be the only 747 tackling blazes around the world. Because of its size and its speed, the 747 can reach almost anywhere in North America within 4 and a half hours. And it can fly anywhere in the world in 20 hours with just a single fuel stop.


Bob Soelberg of Global SuperTankers shows off the 10 independent tanks housed in the 747-400. Marian Lockhart photo.

“It’s basically a big spray can,” said Bob Soelberg, senior vice president and general manager of Global SuperTankers of Colorado Springs, Colo., which operates the airplane. “Its wings are bigger and its engine more powerful than anything else out there fighting fires today.”

The airplane is equipped with 10 tanks, each with identical systems that can operate independent of one another. The airplane can deliver single or multiple drops of water or fire retardant that can be released at variable rates, producing a tailored response for various fires.

You can see the airplane in action in this video.

Flying quiet

How quiet is the 787? So quiet that a group of media almost missed it landing at Boeing Field following an around the world trip back in 2011. It was early morning—still dark—and the airplane landed a few minutes earlier than expected. It was so whisper quiet on approach that photographers were caught off guard, some of them barely capturing the airplane as it touched down.

I mention this story because of recent news out of London. Heathrow Airport is out with its quarterly ‘Fly Quiet’ league table from January to March, which compares each of the top 50 airlines (according to the number of flights to and from Heathrow per year) across six different noise metrics.


One of the 787’s in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet.

There was specific praise for Virgin Atlantic, which jumped five places in the league table to 13th position due to the fact that it introduced a number of 787s into its fleet over recent months, dramatically reducing its overall noise footprint.

Air Canada, Air India, British Airways and Qatar have also been using 787s at the UK’s busiest airport, contributing to an overall 6 percent improvement in the total league table score.

That’s music to our ears.

Powered by Boeing: uniforms for a cause

When a team of cyclists made up of employees and friends of American Airlines hit the road for a 7-day trek, the Boeing logo went right along with them. We were proud to sponsor the team in the 15th annual AIDS Lifecycle, a ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that raises money to defeat HIV/AIDS.


Members of the American Airlines cycling team cross the finish line in Los Angeles after the 7-day AIDS Lifecycle, a ride to end HIV/AIDS. American Airlines photo.

The 7-member team from American was decked out in uniforms that read “Powered by Boeing” on the back of their jerseys. Some of the team members have lost relatives to AIDS, so the ride carried special meaning.


The American Airlines team sports “Powered by Boeing” jerseys. Commercial Airplanes sponsored the team during the ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. American Airlines photo.

The bike ride raised over $16 million to support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and HIV/AIDS-related services in Los Angeles.

One member of the American team told us: “AIDS LifeCycle is about coming together as a community, supporting those with the disease and working to ensure that no family has to lose a family member again.”

Congratulations to the entire AA team and to all those who took part.

Tallying the numbers

Now that all of our numbers for May have rolled, I wanted to take a closer look at where we stand on orders and deliveries.

In the month of May, we delivered 71 airplanes, including 14 787s, 47 737s and nine 777s. Our year to date delivery total through the end of May is 301 airplanes.


The delivery of the world’s first co-branded 777 to China Airlines, one of nine 777s we delivered in May.

On the orders side, we added one more 787 order just this week— bringing our year to date net total to 269 airplanes across all programs.

Our goal is to continue executing on our production rate increases. The 787 program recently rolled out its first airplane at a new rate of 12 airplanes per month. The new rate establishes a new Boeing and industry record.


Members of the 787 team join JAL representatives at the Everett factory to celebrate the first 787 to be built at the new rate of 12 per month. Tim Stake photo.

Congratulations to all of our teams.

Sunrise in Moses Lake

I wanted to share some stunning photos of our third 737 MAX test airplane. Boeing photographer Paul Weatherman captured the images below this morning as the sun came up in Moses Lake, Washington. And for first time, all four of our MAX test airplanes were in the air at the same time today. The MAX flight test program continues right on track.





The entire MAX test fleet was in the air at the same time on June 7— a first for the MAX flight test program.


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