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?”

Comments (7)

bankelele (nairobi kenya):

Seems that overall its been a great week for Boeing, (that other company), the aviation industry and a lot of fun at the same time in Paris. I hope I can attend the Paris air show once in my lifetime

Saj (London, UK):

Good to know that the show has kept you on your toes- and ironic that you still find time to update the journal too!

Im sure all exhibitors and companies have had an equally nightmare of a time negotiating the traffic!

If nothing else, at least the pancakes have come out on top!

Eric (Seattle, WA):

Randy, thanks for the updates on the show. It gives us all a chance to see the behind the scenes look of what goes on. Keep up the good work!

Chris C (South Africa):

Boeing builds the finest commercial airplanes in the world, period. Boeing’s BCA’s are the epitome of sheer airborne excellence. Keep up the outstanding work Randy T., your Paris Blog entries are excellent!

Ivan Charvat (Oakville, Ontario, Canada):

Passenger comfort: I have twice flown Toronto/LHR/Johannesburg return in the last 2 months,
my comments are that A330/A340 seating 8 abreast or B777-300 ER 9 abreast in Economy Class is good, but B747 10-abreast is awful (especially at SAA's seating pitch...) The point is that the mid-1950's width per passenger established on the B707 then 720, 727, 737, 747 and 757 types is simply wrong for today's "much fatter Western people". Boeing's decision to avoid replacing the 737 until after 2013/14 is also wrong as the plane is now too uncomfortable, compared to the A320 class. Same goes for the 747-8I in Economy - 10 abreast for the long haul is simply cruel! Seriously.
Finally, how come Lufthansa states that the 747-8I will use 3.5 litres of fuel per psssenger per 100 km and the A380 only 3.3 litres/pax/100 km, but your briefing on Wednesday 20th in Paris says vastly different numbers?
Surely Lufthansa knows what each airframe maker has promised in performance guarantess? You really need to clear up this "communications mess" soon - presumably by asking LH to clarify the trip distances etc. - since it affects your and Boeings credibility.

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Ivan, yes manufacturers do provide performance guarantees to airlines. And they include the weight of the airline, the payload capability of the airplane, and fuel efficiency of the aircraft. However, when it comes to makeing accurate and reasonable comparisons about the efficencies of two different airplanes, it is critical that the airplanes be evaluated using the same ground rules and comparable configurations (passenger comfort, number of first class and business seats, etc.). Our analysis of the efficiency of the A380 compared to the 747, using consistent ground rules shows that the 747-8 is more fuel efficient per passenger than the A380. In fact the 787 at less than half the size of the A380, will also be more efficient per passenger.

-Randy Tinseth

chrisC (San Jose, CA):

Thanks for the Le Bourget pancake update. I am amazed the other aircraft company picked up $75B worth of orders at list price. Wow! Congratulations to the 'come back' company! indeed.

I wondered how much Mr. Leahy's sales magic has to do with those numbers? Maybe buy 2 get 2 free? Then I also read that GE didn't want to shoot themselves in the foot by doing the next generation 350XWB engine?

Well, we'll see how many of those will put their money where their mouth is when they are faced with the one-engine choice, however great a deal was swung.

M. Tshishiku (Bloomington, Illinois):

What went wrong at Le Bourget? Is John Leahy a better salesman than your guys?

In terms of products, Boeing products are equal if not better than Airbus products. So why this clubbering of Boeing by Airbus at Le Bourget.

Boeing needs to re-evaluate its marketing and selling strategy.

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On the contrary. Please look at our Orders and Deliveries Website. http://www.boeing.com/commercial/orders/

It is Boeing's longstanding policy not to stockpile orders and order announcements for air shows. An air show is one week out of 52. Our customers announce orders throughout the year and we post those firm orders on our Website each Thursday.

- Randy Tinseth

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