August 2007 Archives

7/8/07

No doubt a lot of people enjoyed the excitement of the Dreamliner Premiere and the great coincidence of the date 7/8/07, for the July 8 rollout of the first airplane. But did you know there was another milestone marked by the date of 7/8/07?

Only this time, it represented 7 August, 2007 – as dates are depicted in many other parts of the world, including Derby, U.K. That’s where Dreamliner partner Rolls-Royce received its airworthiness certification for the Trent 1000, the launch engine for the 787.

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The Rolls-Royce 747-200 flying test bed takes off from Paine Field in Everett during the historic 7-Series fly-in event in July. A Trent 1000 replaced one of the original Rolls-Royce engines on the airplane for the flight test program which began in June.

Both EASA and the FAA certified the Trent 1000 on 7 August. It’s the first engine to get this validation at the same time from both agencies under the latest regulatory procedures.

The certification also takes us one step closer to the Dreamliner’s first flight, and its first delivery to ANA.

In the meantime, good fun around the notion of “7/8/07.” Take a look at this short clip commemorating two events sharing a date in history.

Top of its game

A lot of the attention in the widebody market has been on the record-setting pace of orders for the 787 Dreamliner.

That’s to be expected.

But quietly, the 777 has just reached its own record milestone – achieving 1,000 orders sooner than any other twin-aisle airplane has done. Not only that, we’ve also reached 100 orders for 777s for the year. This is an airplane that just gets better over time.

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Celebrating yet another milestone, this 777-200ER is the 3,000th widebody airplane to be delivered from our Everett factory. The new Korean Airlines jet wowed the crowds as it flew over the course at the “Boeing Classic” golf tournament last week outside Seattle.

Since January 2005, the 777 program has had 16 new customers and 330 orders. That’s one third of the total orders for the program since launch. The 777 is truly at the top of its game.

Some people have been wondering about the future of the 777. I think it’s simple. And this is what I say when I’m asked: The 777 is the most advanced airplane flying today.

It bears reminding that the 777 has changed and adapted to the marketplace since its introduction. We’ve continuously improved its capabilities. And when you look at the way the 777 couples with the 787 - and provides superior market coverage - I think we’re very well positioned going forward.

As we’ve always done with the 777, we’ll continue to consider opportunities for further improvements to its performance. We’re confident that whatever competition might come its way in the future, we’ll be ready to meet it.

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Since the 777’s entry into service, we’ve continued to invest in technology. The 777-300 and 777-300ER offer 6% lower seat-mile costs compared to their predecessors. The 777-200LR increased the range of the family by an additional 7,800 km (4,200 nmi) over the 777-200. And the 777-300ER offers more revenue opportunities – an additional 60 passengers and 15 tonnes (17 tons) more structural payload compared to the 777-200.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The reason this airplane family has been and continues to be successful is that we started with the right product strategy. That strategy led to the development of an efficient, twin-engine airplane capable of making long-distance point-to-point travel possible.

In its 12 years in service the 777 has proven to be one of the most reliable, efficient, and passenger-pleasing airplanes to serve the long-haul market.

Some statistics about the 777 fleet:

  • Flown 7 billion nautical miles, enough to circle the world 322,000 times
  • Carried more than 778 million passengers
  • Logged 14.5 million flight hours on more than 3 million flights

We designed the 777 with one of the most spacious cabin interiors for a twin-aisle airplane. That allowed us to create a passenger-pleasing interior that has helped the 777 become the preferred airplane among travelers.

From there we kept improving and growing. We added two new, longer range 777s – the 777-300ER and 777-200LR – to provide airlines greater range and capability to fly the type of long-haul nonstop routes passengers want. Both airplanes have more range and payload capability than previous 777 models or any competing airplanes in service.

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Fuel consumption per seat in the 777-300ER has improved by 5% over the 777-200. The additional payload and range capability of the 777-200LR will make the 777 Freighter the world’s largest, longest range twin-engine freighter, carrying 104 tonnes of payload just over 9,000 km (4,885 nmi).

The 777-200LR got a lot of worldwide coverage for achieving the record for distance traveled nonstop by a commercial airplane. I actually happened to be lucky enough to be on board for that flight - 22 hours and 42 minutes in the air from Hong Kong to London – the long way. We got to see the sunrise twice.

An amazing journey, but I’m not sure that I’d want to repeat the experience of being surrounded by reporters for 23 hours with no escape. Just kidding!

The cool thing about the 777-200LR is its tremendous capacity for additional payload that would otherwise keep competing aircraft from flying as far. It’s a significant advantage for an airline looking to make additional revenue with cargo on commercial flights.

Of course, the -200LR is the platform for the 777 Freighter - scheduled to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2008. It will be the first all-new freighter to enter the market in 13 years when it goes into service with launch customer Air France.

And what’s next?

A potential competitor to the 777 could be the larger version of the Airbus A350, which is scheduled to enter service in 2015 – eight years from today. But it’s an airplane that has yet to be defined.

Right now we have a passenger-preferred airplane in the 777 - the widest twin-engine airplane today. And it will remain wider than the A350.

As we move into the future we expect the 777 to continue to improve and adapt, in order to bring more value to our customers as the market changes.

For sure, we won’t be standing still.

It's a wrap

Talk about “building” momentum.

Korean Air has taken the Dreamliner Premiere to new heights. They’ve wrapped their entire headquarters building in Seoul with a giant image of a 787 taking off – in Korean Air blue – along with the words, “787 Dreamliner, Special Expectations.” And that’s no stretch.

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Korean Air’s headquarters will remain “wrapped” in the 787 Dreamliner through the end of the month. Click on the image to view a video of the wrapping project. Photo and video courtesy: Korean Air.

The wrapping project took eight days - with 20 to 30 men working each day, attaching more than 300 pieces of film onto the building’s surface. They tell me that all the pieces lined up together would stretch 2.8 kilometers.

You can watch the entire project compressed into about 3 and a half minutes in this video. It’s a sight that would do Christo proud, I’m sure.

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Korean Air is a launch customer of the Boeing 787, with 10 Dreamliners on order. Photo courtesy: Korean Air.

Korean Air’s Aerospace Division has participated in the 787 program from the development stage, including facilities investments in Korea and the manufacturing of six major parts such as the aft fuselage and wingtip.

I guess I can totally understand the emphasis on “Special Expectations.” The enhanced efficiency and passenger comfort of the 787 will help Korean Air expand its long range routes and widen its network to South America and Africa.

The airline tells me they expect the Dreamliner will be a “pillar” in Korean Air’s future fleet.

100 days

It’s been a little over a hundred days now since I’ve been the “Randy” in Randy’s Journal. And borrowing a page from American political tradition, I thought it would be “prudent” (with apologies to Dana Carvey) to look at where we stand “at this juncture.”

After a little downtime here in August, we’re about to enter a very busy and exciting period. We’ll have the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner. And I’ll be heading off to Europe and China and then to Australia and New Zealand.

No doubt, as I visit with friends, colleagues, and journalists later this year, they’ll want to talk about Randy’s Journal. One of the more surprising aspects since my succession into this position three months ago has been how often people come up and ask me about the blog.

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It’s been about 100 days.

By design, this endeavor was intended to be low key, and we didn’t set any particular expectations for the blog. At the time we started, corporate blogging was just dawning. And even today, high-level blogging executives are a rarity. Back then, we certainly didn’t know what to expect.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that today we have tens of thousands of individuals visiting this Boeing blog each month. We’ve had visitors and comments from more than 40 countries around the globe. I’d say that’s pretty good results.

We’ve made various blog hotlists, and been talked about in major media articles and blog posts about the growing profile of corporate blogging.

So, I’ve really come to understand the potential of this new medium, and I want to take this opportunity to say it’s been great to share some thoughts during these 100 days.

We’ve had such a wide variety of comments welcoming me to this world – from the “Hello, hello” post, to your great response to the Boeing 7-Series and Dreamliner Premiere discussions. This is a valuable dialogue that I hope will continue to grow.

Along these lines, I really heard you loud and clear with the Sound of silence post - here in the comments and on forums such as Airliners.net. Thanks for the great feedback. Most of you got the point that when it comes to what we hear inside the cabin, it’s about both the quality of the sound and the level of the noise.

It was a lively conversation and I hope you enjoyed it. So keep letting me know what you think. Your comments are always welcome.

And I’ll get to work on the next very busy 100 days or so.

Life begins @ 40

The thing about airplane manufacturing is, it’s constantly evolving and improving with technology. Clearly, the revolutionary 787 Dreamliner, and the evolutionary 747-8 are already carrying on the story into the 21st Century.

But as we look ahead, I also want to give you a chance to look back at the remarkable era of growth and success that led up to today, particularly at the Boeing Commercial Airplanes plant in Everett, Washington.

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From 1967 ..

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.. to 2007.

We’ve launched a 40th anniversary Boeing and Everett Website to help celebrate Boeing’s partnership with the Everett community. The site features key events in the plant’s 40-year history.

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Boeing is implementing a more efficient production system on the 777 line in Everett. The goal is to complete a U-shaped moving line - from systems installation through final body join - by sometime next year.

It all began with a determined group of employees called “The Incredibles,” who simultaneously built the plant – today, the world’s largest building by volume – and designed and assembled the world’s first jumbo-jet, the Boeing 747.

One interesting feature on the Website is an interactive timeline and video depicting the history of the Everett site.

Something I’m struck by is the fact that we’ve built about 3,000 widebody airplanes in Everett since we began this adventure in 1967. Most of those airplanes are still flying today. And in the factory now, all of those innovative widebody products - 747, 767, 777, and 787 – are going strong.

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A real piece of Boeing history, the original 747 - the “City of Everett” - is on exhibit at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

My own connection with the Everett site takes me up to my previous role as Customers Leader for the 747-8 Program.

I had a workspace right in the 747 factory.

If you ever should find yourself in this part of the world, you can get a personal look at the airplanes in assembly in the humongous building where the work goes on, during a Boeing factory tour. It’s one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Pacific Northwest.

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Some recent history: NBC News’ “Today Show” broadcast “Where in the World is Matt Lauer” live from Everett on April 30. Here Matt demonstrates how some employees use bicycles to travel around the huge 777 factory.

So, it’s been 40 years since Boeing’s manufacturing facilities opened in Everett. I’ve heard that life begins at 40, and even that “40 is the new 20.” Either way, we’re just getting warmed up!

Sound of silence

How quiet do you want it to be on the airplane next time you fly? Sounds like a rhetorical question, but it’s not as simple as it seems.

When we develop an airplane like the 787 – or any airplane – we ask questions such as how quiet do you want it to be in the cabin? Along these lines we’ve surveyed passengers to find out how quiet it is during flight – and a key question is how they “perceive” quietness in the cabin.

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How do you perceive “quiet” in flight?

For instance, even though the Airbus A340 has lower sound pressure levels, the Boeing 777 rates “quieter” in studies. So what’s going on?

You may recall media reports earlier this year making a lot of noise about how quiet it was aboard the A380.

In stories about the A380 passenger experience, we read that even seated by a window, you could hear conversations on the other side of the airplane, or even several rows away. In some reports, when passengers mentioned that this might be a bit disconcerting, they were told that one might have to “get used to” eavesdropping on an airplane.

So, I wonder if this also means that we’ll hear crying babies many rows further away than on today’s airplanes? Or sounds from the galleys?

I don’t know about you, but my personal experience is that if you can’t sleep because you can hear lots of conversations, or other sounds, you’re going to be more fatigued when you arrive.

You’d probably agree that the most disturbing background noises are the random ones - talking, coughing, lavatory doors closing. How disturbed you are during a flight is a function of the degree to which the random noises rise above the background noise.

We think the difference between “perceived” quiet on different jetliners is due to the balance of background - or white noise - and ambient noise.

Think of this as a trade-off between the level of background noise that might drown out desired noises (a flight attendant being able to hear the passenger’s drink order) versus undesired noises (one passenger being able to hear every other passenger’s drink order).

That’s why some “white noise” can be desirable on an airplane, and even soothing (the difference, say, between the sound of a power saw in the background, or of a babbling brook).

So, listen, maybe passengers could “get used to” to eavesdropping on an airplane. But my guess is you’ll find it annoying.

Babbling brook? Yes. Babbling passengers clear across the cabin? Maybe not.

7,000

It’s a nice round number, and looks pretty darn good from overhead, especially when several hundred Boeing employees are actually forming the numerals.

We just reached an amazing milestone – the 7,000th Boeing 737 order. And to mark the occasion employees on the program formed a giant “7,000” – spanning an area that was nearly the length of two airplanes.

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Employees celebrate the 7,000th order at the 737 facility in Renton, standing next to a new 737 fuselage - destined for China Southern Air Group - prior to final assembly.

Indonesia’s Lion Air placed the order as part of an agreement for 40 additional 737-900ER airplanes at the Paris Air Show. Lion Air now has 100 announced orders for the 737-900ER, including that historic 7,000th order.

And from my point of view, any way you look at it - even from above - 7,000 is a beautiful number.

State of the industry

One of the questions that came up on the Boeing Company earnings teleconference with investors and reporters last week had to do with where we are in terms of the “cycle.”

I think my predecessor, Randy Baseler, did a good job a couple of months ago explaining what’s happening with the industry cycle. And this may be a good time to touch base again with where we see the industry right now in terms of performance.

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Strong passenger demand means record numbers of peope are expected to travel in August, according to IATA. This real-time display of air traffic at Boeing’s Customer Experience Center gives you a glance at all flights in progress around the globe.

First, we’re clearly still in the “up” part of the cycle. Whether the cycle will continue as it is today is always hard to predict. But we still see sound fundamentals moving in positive directions. In other words, if you take a look at the factors that drive our industry, we still see strong growth.

We’re seeing strong growth in economies around the world, strong growth in traffic, high load factors, high airplane utilization, and growing revenue. There are, of course, continuing challenges with cost pressures and high fuel prices, but again, coupled with strong passenger demand and positive earnings.

In fact, this earnings season has been good for airlines around the world. We’re seeing a very positive trend with solid 2nd quarter earnings reports for major U.S. carriers, such as Delta and United, and for big carriers in other regions, such as Lufthansa, Ryanair, Singapore, ANA, and the list goes on.

Many of the airlines say they’re having their highest revenues ever - results that demonstrate that the airline industry is in the midst of a strong recovery.

Rising profits and improved financial health for airlines around the world, and particularly in the U.S., will enable them to renew their fleets and to grow.

IATA, an international trade organization for the airlines, has just posted its report card for the halfway mark of 2007, with the news that passenger traffic grew 6.3% over last year – with load factors at record levels. What we see is that traffic, in fact, is growing faster than the capacity being added to the system.

IATA is projecting that this year will be the first year since 2000 in which the airline industry will achieve profitability. And next year, IATA forecasts close to a $10 billion profit for the industry – which would be a record.

Bottom line: the state of the industry continues to be good, and we’re looking forward to continued strength through this year and into 2008. We’ll keep watching. But all the signs continue to point to a longer cycle.

 

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