June 2007 Archives

Seven heaven

This coming week is going to be exceptional for more than just the obvious reason.

As part of the 787 “rollout” on July 8, starting today we’re releasing one video a day, leading up to the big event. It’s something we’re calling the Seven Series.

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Click on the image to go to the site.

These one or two minute streaming videos celebrate the Boeing family of airplanes - starting with the 707’s debut back in 1958 right up through the 787.

The series begins with “707,” and culminates July 8, of course, with “787.”

You can watch the videos here. Check back each day for the latest one.

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve matched the airplane models to the dates - as we write them here in the U.S., because of the unique circumstance of the dates matching our airplanes perfectly this year. So, the 737 video, for instance, rolls on July 3, or 7/3, and of course the final video will roll on July 8, or 7/8/7.

Here’s the schedule for the Seven Series videos:

  • 707 – June 30
  • 717 – July 1
  • 727 – July 2
  • 737 – July 3
  • 747 – July 4
  • 757 – July 5
  • 767 – July 6
  • 777 – July 7
  • 787 – July 8

I’ve been in Bangkok, Thailand this past week, and wouldn’t you know that someone asked me during the trip why Boeing numbers its airplanes starting with 7. Is it because 7 is a lucky number? Well, it has certainly been lucky, but read the whole story behind the origin of the “7” Series here.

By the way, my favorite Seven Series airplane is the 757. It’s the first airplane program I worked on when I joined Boeing. What’s your favorite?

Dream event

The July 8 rollout - or “Premiere” - of the new 787 Dreamliner is a little over a week away. And it has generated such worldwide interest, that Boeing is going to make the event available to viewers around the globe.

Between the breakthrough aviation technology going into the Dreamliner, and the communications and show biz technology going into the Premiere event – it’s shaping up to be an astonishing weekend.

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A big celebration is in the works for the debut of the 787 Dreamliner.

And we’ve come up with some ways you can check out the 787 Premiere, so you won’t have to miss it, no matter where you live.

We’ll be broadcasting the Premiere to more than 45 countries by way of 35 satellite TV networks. Satellite information for those of you who subscribe to or receive satellite television can be found on the Boeing Website.

We think the event could reach 100 million people or more internationally through Direct to Home Satellite, making this one of the largest corporate television broadcasts in history. It will be broadcast in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.

A potential 12 million viewers in the U.S. may view the ceremony live via DIRECTV and Dish Network.

And we’ve arranged to Webcast the entire event. The Webcast will potentially reach several million Internet users.

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The 787 Premiere will be Webcast live on July 8. You can click on the image to go directly to the site.

Of course, some 15,000 or so people, including Boeing employees, supplier partners, customers, and other dignitaries will be on hand inside the 787 factory in Everett when the first Dreamliner is officially revealed.

Demand has been so high that we’ve secured the use of Qwest Field in Seattle – for another 25,000 or so employees, retirees, and their guests to view the event live.

Live remote sites will host up to 30,000 more attendees participating via two-way satellite in Japan, Italy, and locations in the U.S. And as many as 90 other locations around the world involving 787 customers, partners, and Boeing employees will host viewing events.

The July 8 event is going to be the kind of celebration you don’t see every day. Emcee of the Premiere will be U.S. broadcaster and author Tom Brokaw. Brokaw will share the stage with Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Scott Carson, and 787 Program Vice President and General Manager Mike Bair.

Some of you may have already gotten a “sneak preview” of what’s to come. But I guarantee you’ll want to stick around for the big event on the 8th of July. As they say: “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

Airshow!

LE BOURGET - Air shows are a blur of nonstop activity. Seems I’ve tackled questions on everything from, “What’s the wake vortex on a 747?” to “How do you fly an elephant from Anchorage to Tampa?”

It’s to the point that by the end of the week you just find yourself babbling “what’s the vector, Victor?” I mean, this is such a mind-boggling event that even John Travolta dropped in on Thursday.

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Friday means au revoir to Le Bourget.

It’s certainly been a great week. My colleagues and I have met with thousands of customers, suppliers, and partners, who are excited and enthused about our products and services. We hosted hundreds of journalists. By any measure I think Boeing has had a very strong and productive air show.

But I also can’t remember another time when the contrast between Boeing and the competition was stronger or more evident.

We heard this week that “Airbus is back.” And we witnessed an avalanche of order announcements, “commitments,” and re-announcements. It’s about what we expected.

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And something else was “back” at Le Bourget. The rain. It returned with a vengence on Friday, sending visitors scattering for cover.

In contrast, Boeing chooses to let the market response to our products do the talking year round. Which approach do you think is more of a validation in the eyes of investors and airlines?

Some journalists were intent on reporting on numbers only. But we saw at least one story that reported the bigger context - that the list of orders is only spectacular at first glance.

And here’s the bottom line. As of the end of this week, Boeing has 510 firm orders for commercial airplanes so far in 2007. And when customers wish to place further orders, you’ll see those posted each week as we go forward.

So, while we don’t stockpile order announcements for air shows, Le Bourget turned out to be a great opportunity to confirm that the 787 Dreamliner remains on schedule for first delivery in May 2008.

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The first 787 Dreamliner wing-to-body join. Mike Bair showed this photo at his air show press briefing. He told reporters, “the fit is astounding.”

As 787 Program chief Mike Bair pointed out this week, the “Premiere” of the airplane is now less than three weeks away - the 8th of July. With 634 firm orders from 45 customers, the Dreamliner is already by far the most successful new airplane launch in history.

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Closing time at the Paris Air Show.

As we close out Paris 2007, I want to say one more word about the competition between Boeing and Airbus. We think it’s a healthy thing for business, and frequently say so. Yet a theme I’ve heard over and over again coming out of the media at this air show is that Boeing and Airbus are at each other’s throats.

Well, I’ve been around long enough to know that conflict equals news. Especially when you’re in a show atmosphere. So as I head back to Seattle, and a few days rest, I will readily grant you that this kind of coverage is probably never going to go away completely.

Surely you can’t be serious? I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

If it's Wednesday ..

LE BOURGET – You ought to know that the people who manage my schedule have kept me pretty busy this week. Some might say, “If it’s Wednesday, I must be in Paris.” But at this point I say, if this was Wednesday, where did Monday and Tuesday go? I guess that’s how it’s been this week at the big air show.

I suppose some of our Boeing colleagues back home in Seattle think that attending an air show is lots of fun. Well, there’s certainly also a ton of work involved - I’ve done more than a dozen media interviews, a large press briefing, and a half-dozen meetings with financial analysts and investors in just the first few days of the show. But yes, the week does have its lighter moments.

I call it the good, the bad, the ugly .. and the excellent.

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The legendary air show blueberry pancakes.

The good: Definitely the pancakes. The blueberry pancakes each morning in the Boeing chalet are described as “legendary.” But my best guess is they’re legendary mainly because they’re served up every year.

Anyway, they are good. And they’re part of the whole air show breakfast experience, at least for those of us at Boeing.

Seeing old friends. That’s probably my favorite thing at these events. This week I’ve had a chance to see some people I haven’t seen in a lot of years.

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Watching the “air show” at the Paris Air Show – another good thing that never gets old.

The bad: Well, let’s just say, the seemingly endless search for press conference rooms at the Le Bourget conference center. It feels like they’re buried deep in the catacombs somewhere. And when people managed to find them, occasionally the wrong times for our events were posted outside the conference room doors. Luckily reporters can be both chronically early and chronically late, so no one seemed to miss our events because of it!

And something else. Who knew it could rain so much in Paris? Of course in Seattle, we’re definitely used to a little rain. But the rainfall this week in Paris has tended to be sudden, torrential, and drenching. Somehow, though, the rain hasn’t fallen too much during the show hours. Although I did hear some comments that my presentation on Wednesday morning was “all wet.” Anyway, it was actually a real treat to see rain of this magnitude, as well as lightning and thunder all at the same time. It’s something those of us from the northwest corner of the U.S. don’t get to see all that often.

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From the bus: traffic en route to our hotel at the end of another hot day at the air show.

The ugly: Has to be the perennial issue with the heat of the afternoon sun. I suppose we Americans are a bit soft when it comes to heat and humidity. But I must admit that the bus ride from Le Bourget back to the hotel at the end of each day calls to mind the advertising slogan “raise your hand if you’re Sure.” At one point both the heat and the air conditioner were blowing at once. You apparently couldn’t have one on without the other.

The heat also seemed to plague my press briefing on Wednesday. Last year at Farnborough it was so hot - and strained the air conditioning system so much - that the entire building blew out its electricity and I had to finish my presentation in the dark. This time we had two oscillating fans on the floor and no AC. If I didn’t put the 50 or so people in attendance to sleep, certainly the heat did.

But the best “ugly” is probably getting up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning so you can get the bus to the air show site. That catches up to you real quick as the week progresses.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t describe the uniquely-air show phenomenon of trying to conduct a media interview in the afternoon while competing with the roar of jet fighters screaming overhead. The actual “air show” portion of the air show can be so loud it shakes the chalet and makes conversation nearly impossible. I have an idea, though. Next time, we’ll have to remember to schedule interviews with our not-so-favorite media during the afternoon show times!

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Jet Airways is India’s largest privately-owned airline, and this is its recently delivered Boeing 777-300ER, on display at Le Bourget.

Then finally, the “excellent.” That would have to be the marvelous airplane which just happened to be parked outside our back porch at the Boeing media chalet: the Jet Airways 777-300ER.

The airplane is creating quite a bit of buzz this week. More than 1,000 people have visited it in the first few days of the air show. It’s showing off a new livery – and a newly created first and business class configuration.

I’ve been on the airplane several times during the week, and let’s just say there’s been steady traffic up and down the air stairs all day every day. The first-class suites are something you just have to see for yourself – each suite has 26 square feet of usable space and can be enclosed with privacy doors.

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Being interviewed by the Discovery Channel in Jet’s business class.

The business class is so comfortable that Jet’s staff has had to rouse some slumbering visitors in the seats. But even the comfort of the economy class is much more than you’d expect.

It’s interesting to note that this is Jet’s first appearance at an air show. So I’d say the 14-year-old airline has staked out its position as a premiere international carrier.

All in all, so much has been happening, so fast, here at Le Bourget, I’m sure that in another day or so I’ll be asking, “If this is Friday .. where did the week go?”

Lundi, Lundi

LE BOURGET – A guy by the name of Charles Lindbergh landed here 80 years ago after the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic. It’s truly a place of aviation history. Paris has hosted air shows virtually since the beginning of the era of flight, and Le Bourget airfield in the northeast corner of metropolitan Paris has been the site of the big show for many decades now.

This is the “47th Salon International de l’Aeronautique et de l’Espace.” And you know it’s always going to be a great show here. The air display is amazing. No matter how many times you’ve seen it, you just can’t look away when the airplanes fly each day.

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The Boeing “chalet.” Our home at the air show.

But I think what my colleagues and I look forward to most at these air shows, as I mentioned the other day, is rekindling the relationships we’ve made with people around the world over the years. That, and having a heckuva good time just talking about airplanes.

Which brought me to one thought as we started the week. Am I the only one who’s noticed that what we read in the media, and what the reality is, tends to be two separate things right now? Maybe it’s the added frenzy of Paris Air Show time, but it appears that many of those who report on our business are trying to pit Boeing vs. Airbus - and depicting the notion that we’re at each other’s throats, or of one side or the other “firing the first shots” or going “on the attack.”

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The Paris Air Show got under way for me first thing Monday morning with a discussion with Bloomberg Television at Le Bourget.

It’s a bit of a stretch. I think the reality is that Boeing is focused on what’s important to us – and that’s our customers. Airbus is focusing on getting back on track. They’re a strong competitor, and as you’ve seen expressed here in the past, that’s a good thing for our industry.

But we’re not going to be drawn into a war of words. Our outstanding products and services speak for themselves. And we continue to do everything we can to be successful in satisfying the needs of our customers and in delivering results companywide.

There’s been a lot of news out of Le Bourget already. BCA president and CEO Scott Carson met with reporters Monday morning, and predictably a lot of questions focused on the 787 Dreamliner. Some reporters seem intent on depicting “delays” in the 787 program. But Carson reminded the journalists that we are on track.

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Scott Carson and a media “scrum” following his press briefing on Monday.

As far as the date of the first flight, there has been no change. We don’t set a specific date for a first flight – that’s just not how new airplane programs work. We have been saying first flight will be in the late August or September time frame. And again, that hasn’t changed.

You know, new airplanes are always challenges. One of the things we say at Boeing is you have to be nimble, and I think we are. The process involves dynamic development and assembly challenges that we address every day. But the important point I want to make is just as Scott Carson said. The 787 Program remains on schedule to roll out the first 787 on July 8. The window for first flight starts in late August and goes for several weeks to a month. We are on track to meet that window, as well as entry into service in May 2008.

Speaking of new airplanes, on Wednesday I’ll have the opportunity to give a media briefing on the 747-8 program. On the -8, we continue to make progress. I remember that last year at Farnborough all the questions were about, “why don’t you have any orders?” And now we’re at 87 orders for the program. With the progress we’re making, we’re excited about the freighter airplane delivering in 2009 and the passenger version the following year in 2010.

All in all, as expected, it was a very dynamic day.

Monday, Monday. It was all I hoped it would be.

The long run

PARIS - Although I’m not a big fan of the group, I do remember that the Eagles had a hit single and album called “The Long Run.” And that’s the kind of phrase that comes to mind at air show time.

This coming week we’ll be reading about aircraft orders at the Paris Air Show. Some may even describe the week’s activities in terms of an “orders battle.” But not us at Boeing.

We have a saying: “One week out of 52.” And that’s what an air show is. With 429 firm orders booked already this year, we like where we stand in the marketplace, and we’re gratified that our customers continue to validate our products and services. And you can always see how we’re doing on the orders front right on our Website, which we update every Thursday.

Now if a customer wants to take the opportunity at the air show to announce the acquisition of new airplanes, then that’s when you might see announcements come out of Le Bourget. But we don’t save orders to score points in an artificial battle for the week. Other companies might have a different approach – and maybe that works for them.

But, a word to reporters and other observers this week: we don’t consider it a battle – because we ain’t fighting on air show ground. An air show should be seen as a celebration of flight. And that’s easy to do at a wonderfully historic venue like Le Bourget, and with all of the exhibits, display aircraft, and flight demonstrations. It’s also an opportunity for us to meet with our airline customers, our supplier/partners, and the journalists who cover our industry.

So keep in mind it’s just one week out of 52. We’ll stay focused on going the distance across those 52 weeks. And we’ll find out – in the long run.

Back to the future

LONDON – I just wrapped up a meeting with a group of journalists here in the U.K., as well as conducting an international media teleconference. It’s part of activity around the release of the new Boeing commercial airplanes market outlook. Tomorrow I’ll be briefing reporters in Paris just ahead of the big show at Le Bourget next week.

The Current Market Outlook (CMO) for 2007 will look familiar to those of you who’ve been following our commercial airplanes forecast over the past several years. It’s “back to the future,” so to speak. But there are a few interesting new things to talk about this year.

One of the big points of this forecast is that the market continues to grow and liberalize. Over the next 20 years, we see a further diversification of airplane demand, both by region and by airline business model.

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In 2026, single-aisles will have the largest market share by number of units.

By 2026 the world airplane fleet will be significantly rejuvenated, because of new airplanes entering the marketplace. And it’s important to point out that freighters will continue to play a big role in the market.

Think about this piece of data: 80% of the airplanes that will be flying in the year 2026 will be airplanes that are not currently flying today. It’s going to be a new airplane fleet - allowing airlines to grow responsibly with the world. Improved efficiencies and the commitment to environmental performance in airplane design means that the future fleet will have the minimum possible impact on the environment, while at the same time allowing people to benefit from the essential connections that only air travel can deliver.

Over the forecast period, many more markets will receive a strong boost as governments ease regulations, and the Open Skies agreements between the European Union and the United States and Canada go into effect.

There is also strong anticipation of Chinese domestic market liberalization. And markets in North Africa and additional cities in Asia are opening up.

Developing regions are becoming more influential. That’s why the Current Market Outlook includes our analysis of CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) markets - including Russia - for the first time.

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In 2026, the world fleet will have more than 36,400 aircraft in a wide mix of regions and operating segments

Looking at the data by region, over the next 20 years, the center of gravity of the world airline fleet will move substantially towards the Asia-Pacific region. We think this will lead to more balanced airplane demand worldwide.

Other key points in our forecast:

  • Innovations will bring more comfort and a better cabin environment for passengers.
  • Rapidly expanding low-cost airlines will bring affordable air travel within reach of many more people worldwide, accounting for more than a third of the market for new airplanes.
  • Just over half the new deliveries will go to traditional carriers - that will provide a strong focus on service innovation and network development.
  • Freighter demand will be robust, due to the need for fuel efficiency, higher reliability and utilization, and long-range capabilities.

It’s clear from going though the CMO process and seeing the amazing work our forecast team has put together, that we continue to have the right products to meet the needs of airlines today and into the future. We also continue to build our services business to help airlines with training and infrastructure. We help them address these issues and provide services to better focus on their customers – the passengers.

By the way, being new to this assignment, I had to ask the question, “How well have we done with the forecast in the past?” What I found out is that if we look back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, we’ve done a pretty good job at estimating air travel growth and air traffic.

Turns out, though, we had underestimated the demand for single-aisles, due to the low-cost carrier phenomenon and the power of liberalization. We also slightly underestimated the need for twin-aisles, and we significantly overestimated the need for big widebodies.

Overall we tend to be conservative in our forecasts – which I think is a good thing.

Anyway, I’m “outatime.” But we’ll talk again from Paris.

The heat is on

It’s been a busy June already, and it’s only just begun. This time of year - air show time - is always a little frantic. As I continue to get up to speed on the new job, I’m also preparing the 2007 market outlook, which we’ll start to talk about next week. And then the week after that is the Paris Air Show.

But I wanted to take a minute and link you to a couple of things that might be worth your time.

The first is a new Website that just went live - focused on commercial aviation and the environment. It’s called enviro.aero. I think this site is a timely addition to the dialogue, and a big help in setting out the facts.

The more our industry can get involved in and support environmental communications initiatives like this, the better. There are many measures underway to limit aviation’s impact on the environment, and Boeing is a part of those efforts.

Another item I’d like to steer you to is the latest in a series of “Webisodes” about the 787 Dreamliner, called “Revolutionizing Flight.”

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Dreamliner Webisodes 3 and 4 are now available for viewing or download.

The third episode in the video podcast series takes a behind-the-scenes look at how we’re incorporating breakthrough technology to make riding on the 787 smoother for the passenger, and how improvements in altitude pressure and air purification are going to leave you feeling more refreshed at the end of your journey.

For those of you who geek out on technology, Webisode 4 will be of interest. You’ll see how the Dreamliner was conceived to be free from the constraints of conventional airplane design. And how new technologies will not only significantly improve the air travel experience, but will also make owning and operating the airplane easier, more profitable, and better for the environment.

The fascinating thing about the new technology on the 787 is that we required these innovations to meet the test of bringing substantial benefits (in other words, it is not just new technology for its own sake - it must confer sufficient benefit to make it worth incorporating into the airplane).

So, just a few things to get you thinking as we transition into the heated air show season just around the corner.

 

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