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.

Comments (8)

Chris C (South Africa):

If anything is to be said about the massive volume of ‘orders’ for Airbus at this year’s Paris Airshow, it is that Airbus is desperate. Airbus seems to have taken the notion that if they announce major ‘orders’ at the show, and flood their order books, the media will instantly be ‘blinded’ by that and thus announce, “Airbus is back.”

My question is, “Back from what?” I personally think Airbus is virtually back to square one. One thing about Airbus stockpiling orders for the show, is that many of the customers seem to be ‘lost’ in the sheer volume of orders, thus making their (customer’s) announcements seem less significant. In conclusion, I feel this comment from Larry Dickenson, Boeing Commercial Airplane Vice-President of Sales, says it all: “Our {Boeing} sales strategy is simple: Value. Our products provide more value than those of the competitor. The competitor’s strategy is discount. We may never have the lowest prices, but we will always have superior value.”

Congratulations on the recent significant, solid and neat orders from Lion Air, ILFC and GECAS at the show…that speaks volumes for Boeing’s excellent products!! Boeing has done mathematics right…all the best for the rollout of the world’s most advanced and efficient airplane, the 787, and for your up-coming sales campaigns to sell some more phenomenal 747-8Is this year!

Chris Gibson (Australia):

Once again it was very interesting to follow the press releases from the Paris Air Show.
To an outsider the differences in style from both companies are truly amazing. From Boeings conservative approach with solid orders from Major airlines to the over the top hype from Airbus. I am sure that with my one Cessna 172 I would be greeted with open arms if I rang from a Payphone and ordered 100 Airbus Aircraft. And my “order” would be posted as a major achievement.
Keep up the good work, I can’t wait for the roll out of the 787.

Heinrich von Panzeraabe (Stuttgart,Germany):

Congratulations on the blog- it provides an interesting perspective on the ongoing competition between Boeing and Airbus.

That said I am often surprised that Americans are still reluctant to believe that Airbus's airplanes are better than Boeing's products; the US today lags behind Europe in several key industries and nobody would ever claim for instance that American cars are superior to German cars which dominate the world in terms of techonlogy, quality and design. The American car industry which shares many of the same characteristics as the Aerospace industry has simply fallen behind Europe in the latest technologies and design.

Like the American automanufacturers GM and Ford, Boeing will increasingly find itself outclassed by the European made Airbus products which are the Mercedes Benz's of the sky !

John L (TUCSON,AZ):

Randy, nice job in your first 90 days!

Take some time off and enjoy the Seattle Summer!

Amy (Sydney, NSW, Australia ):

Congratulations Boeing Co. for your sound performance at the Paris Air Show 2007. Regardless of any (potentially misleading) media reports on Airbus success based on orders (firm and otherwise), Boeing has gained quiet but significant ground- with ILFC in particular.

It has been truely gratifying for Boeing supporters around the world to watch Boeing keep a composed distance from the 'orders battle' and instead focus on a 'celebration of flight' as this journal describes.

Thank you Randy T. for your dedication in posting constant updates. Your journals provide thoughtful commentary from within the company itself- looking forward to your entries regarding the 787 Dreamliner's debut and continued success against the A350 XWB!

Saj (London, UK):

While I only had the opportunity to be at Le Bourget for a day, the atmosphere you describe it is spot on.

Being market driven, and aside from the detractors that also wish you play the orders save-up game at airshows- the bigger victory was in Boeings humility.

Besides- history is coming. July 8.

Roll on that 787!

Ted Cook (Mt. Vernon, WA):

I'd like to hear the song "dreamweaver" played at the 787 rollout. To get an idea of what it could be like, see the movie Wayne's World. Only picture the image of an airplane hanger instead of Wayne's girlfriend.

Alvin G (Sydney, NSW, Australia):

I would have to concur with your comment that "conflict equals news", it happens in all industries. Needless to say, the rivalry between Airbus and Boeing can only lead to one thing: exceptional aircraft for the world of travelers.

Just as the A380 will revolutionize numbers between hubs, the B787 will revolutionize the ability to move passengers point to point economically.

Airbus clearly missed the ball game with the original A350 and decided to change the game by making the XWB in a class that spans the bigger 787s to the 777. So in reality it's not a direct 787 competitor.

I'm sure that Boeing is not sitting still and will play another card some time soon. We can only speculate what it will be.

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