Perfect 10

The 747-8 program just completed something that’s never happened in the history of the 747 factory. The team built 10 consecutive 747-8 Intercontinentals, while making significant efficiency gains and ensuring on-time deliveries to our customers.

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Inside the 747-8 factory in Everett.

Since 2012, when the passenger version of Boeing’s largest airplane was introduced into service and joined the 747-8 Freighter already in production, the 747 team has built about three Freighters for every Intercontinental.

The passenger version has historically taken 25 to 30 percent longer to build that the Freighter. But with this string of 10 consecutive Intercontinentals, the team found ways to reduce build times by 15,000 hours per airplane.

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The 10 Intercontinentals in a row included airplanes for two new customers: Air China, which took its first delivery last September, and Korean Air, which will take delivery later this year.

Congratulations to the entire team for supporting 100 percent on-time delivery during this “Perfect 10” parade.

Winging it

We’ve just kicked off a new round of ecoDemonstrator program testing with three significant environmental technologies on board our ecoDemonstrator 757. The airplane made two initial test flights earlier this week from Boeing Field in Seattle, looking at ways to improve efficiency and to reduce noise and carbon emissions.

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The ecoDemonstrator 757 during its initial test flight on March 17.

For this round of testing, we’re collaborating with TUI Group and NASA. And you could say we’re “winging it” this time.

On the left wing, we’ll be evaluating technologies to reduce environmental effects on natural laminar flow - smooth airflow over the wing - as a way to improve aerodynamic efficiency. As an example, the ecoDemonstrator 757 will test a Krueger shield that can protect the leading edge from insects.

And on the right wing, Boeing and NASA will test bug-phobic coatings to reduce the residue left by bug strikes on the leading edges of aircraft wings, also to reduce drag.

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The ecoDemonstrator 757 (left) and ecoDemonstrator 787 are pictured together at Boeing Field. The ecoDemonstrator 787 wrapped up its testing a few months ago.

On the vertical tail, Boeing and NASA are testing active flow control to improve airflow over the rudder and maximize its aerodynamic efficiency. Based on wind-tunnel testing, active flow control could improve the rudder’s efficiency by up to 20 percent and may allow for a smaller vertical tail design in the future.

Except for Boeing’s proprietary technology, NASA knowledge gained in ecoDemonstrator collaboration will be publicly available to benefit the industry.

And just to prove how serious we are about our environmental commitment, we’ll recycle this 757 at the end of its flight tests using environmental best practices. That’s what I call going green—from start to finish!

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Simplicity

Last week at the ISTAT Americas conference in Phoenix, Mark Eliasen, the vice president - Finance and treasurer for Alaska Airlines, made an observation: “Of the five airlines in the world that are investment grade, four of them are single-fleet operators. Is that a coincidence? Or is that the way that operating a single fleet works? Simplicity is beautiful.”

He’s right as usual - Simplicity IS beautiful, when you pick the right product. And the right product in this case is the Boeing 737. Alaska, Ryanair, Southwest and WestJet all fly the 737 exclusively, and all achieved investment-grade status. (WestJet Encore, a wholly owned subsidiary of WestJet, operates regionally with Bombardier Q400s.)

That means the leading bond-rating agencies recognize their financial strength and stability, which is a testament to their well-run operations, their strong management and their great products.

I like to say that the Next-Generation 737 gives these airlines one airplane in three different sizes. It allows them to take advantage of the benefits of having a single pilot pool, a single flight deck, the same engine — and still have the flexibility to match the right-sized airplane with the right range on the right routes. And in every size, it’s the most reliable, most efficient airplane in its class.

I’ll also note that all of these airlines who depend on the Next-Generation 737 for consistent performance and profitability have ordered the 737 MAX for their future fleets. For that, we say thank you.

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Alaska Airlines has a fleet of 137 737s flying today, plus 42 Next-Generation 737-900ERs and 37 737 MAX airplanes on order.

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Ryanair has a fleet of over 300 Next Generation 737-800s flying today, plus another 174 on order. And it’s the launch customer for the 737 MAX 200, with an order for 100 airplanes.

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Southwest Airlines has the world’s largest fleet of 737s, with more than 600 in service. It has 70 Next-Generation 737s on order and is the launch customer for both the 737 MAX 8 and MAX 7, with orders for 170 MAX 8s and 30 MAX 7s.

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WestJet operates a fleet of 108 Boeing Next-Generation 737s, with 16 more on order. They have also ordered 65 737 MAXs.

Special delivery

We’re marking two big 787 milestones today—with one airplane. The very first 787-9 built at Boeing South Carolina was delivered to United Airlines. This airplane is also the 250th 787 we’ve delivered.

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The first 787-9 delivered from Boeing South Carolina is pictured here outside our North Charleston delivery center. This airplane is also the 250th 787 to be delivered.

Our delivery centers in Everett and North Charleston have been very busy getting Dreamliners into the hands of our customers all over the world.

The global fleet has now flown more than 215,000 revenue flights—carrying over 40 million passengers. That’s something we’re all very proud of.

Congratulations to the 787 team—for more reasons than one.

Always improving

It’s already a passenger and customer favorite. Now, we’re making the 777 even better. Today at the ISTAT Americas conference in Arizona, I unveiled a series of product improvements that will be available on the 777-300ER, the 777-200LR and the 777 Freighter.

Baseline engine, airplane weight and aerodynamic improvements will be phased into production by the third quarter of 2016, lowering trip fuel use by 2 percent. Combine that with priced optional features and airlines will see an approximate 5 percent overall fuel use per seat improvement. Here’s a detailed look:

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Engine improvements

Combination of various GE 90 engine improvements by GE.

Weight reductions

Optimized interior structural crown architecture, low density hydraulic fluid, lightweight insulation and tail skid removal— all resulting in a 1,200 lb. weight reduction.

Aerodynamic improvements

Divergent trailing edge - A trailing edge device is added to the underside of the wing, outboard of the aileron. The profile of the device increases camber of the outboard wing, resulting in outboard wing efficiency.

Elevator trim bias and seal optimization - Elevator seals are improved to reduce drag and the pitch trim software logic is revised, enabling the elevator to augment the stabilizer trim during cruise flight, reducing profile and induced drag.

Slat enhancement- The slat trailing edge is made 60 percent thinner, resulting in lower drag.

Flap fairing optimization - The inboard flap track fairing is revised to optimize span-loading and reduce profile drag.

Window excrescence drag reduction - A new passenger window and seal design will result in greater flushness with the fuselage skin, reducing excrescence drag.

Tailskid deletion - Enhanced tail skid protection is integrated into the fly-by-wire control laws, eliminating the need for a physical tailskid on the 777-300ER.

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Optional priced features

Options such as next-generation lightweight galleys, space-saving lavatories and straightened aft seat tracks will improve fuel efficiency even more through the addition of seats (up to 14 seats, depending on the configuration). Optional passenger experience upgrades include premium window shades, an LED lighting system to provide better quality of lighting, forward cabin noise improvements and an enhanced Door 2 entry.

Retrofit packages

We’re also considering retrofit opportunities for in-service airplanes—and GE is considering an engine retrofit package.

Bottom Line

The performance and economics of the 777 are unbeaten, and its range, capability and efficiency help our customers maximize their profits. We’re proud to offer an even better airplane going forward.

 

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