June 2009 Archives

Le sourire de la Joconde

It’s been a challenging couple of weeks, as you can imagine. But I wanted to make sure - before we get too far removed from Le Bourget - to share some final sights, sounds and thoughts from the Paris Air Show.

A French colleague of mine observed that assessing the results from Paris is a little like trying to interpret le sourire de la Joconde, the smile of “La Joconde” (the Mona Lisa). That sounds just about right.

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Crowds gaze upon La Joconde - the Mona Lisa - in all her glory at the Louvre in Paris during air show week. She is beguiling and yet mysterious as ever. Much like this year’s air show and the state of the industry in general.

The Economist had an interesting take recently on some of the issues around Boeing and Airbus coming out of Le Bourget and beyond if you’re looking for an overall view.

I came into the Paris Air Show expecting that the hot issues would be: today’s economic and market challenges, the future of aviation (CMO), the 787, and the environment. From that perspective, there were really no surprises. And obviously those issues remain.

I did get more questions than I expected around product strategy and what will be Boeing’s next new airplane - and when. We heard a lot of questions in particular about the 777. That sounds like a good topic for a future blog.

But for now, and speaking of the 777, I wanted to show you a little more of the Air France 777 Freighter which was on display at Le Bourget.

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The Air France 777 Freighter was clearly a “hit” at the show. We got a look inside the cargo area, as well as the flight deck, and the pretty cool cargo door video display console.

Also at Paris we had the usual “orders race” focus again. Although somewhat muted, orders were touted, and tallies added up. As always, some of the supposedly large orders attributed to the competition were not firm orders at all.

As we’ve pointed out many times before in many venues, Boeing doesn’t attend air shows in order to enter into some sort of competition. Our customers announce orders with us when they are booked. This activity takes place all throughout the year, and is disclosed weekly on Boeing’s Web site.

Anyway, before we push on into what is guaranteed to be a dynamic summer ahead, I want to leave you with a photo gallery of sorts from Paris.

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Paris is lovely, by day or by night.

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Striking imagery confronts you at every turn at Le Bourget.

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The competition on display: A350 cutaway model (top), and Sukhoi Superjet in flight.

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Traffic jam: I couldn’t resist this photo of the daily “rush hour” along chalet row at the end of the show each afternoon.

Finally, something a little different for Randy’s Journal. A couple of video “tours” we put together on the ground at the air show. The first is an overall look at the variety of activities Boeing engaged in during the week. The second, taped as things wound down, includes a walk through the exhibit halls at the Paris Air Show.

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Click above to view a video tour of Boeing activities at the show.

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Click above to view my video visit to the Le Bourget exhibit halls.

Taping those videos at the show was interesting, for sure. But I think I’ll hold on to my day job.

Come together

We’ve joined the wing to the fuselage for the first 747-8 Freighter.

In the final assembly bay in Everett, our team has attached the 40-foot (12 meter) center fuselage section to the wing.

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This first 747-8 is now more than 60% complete, and the entire fuselage is in final assembly.

Next step is to prepare the wing and center section for final body join, connecting these assemblies to the forward and aft fuselage sections.

As the photos show, momentum is continuing on the 747-8 Freighter as we move forward toward first flight later this year. It’s a new, high-capacity 747 offering the lowest operating costs and best economics of any freighter airplane, with enhanced environmental performance.

The 747-8 Freighter has 78 orders from cargo operators Cargolux, Nippon Cargo Airlines, AirBridgeCargo Airlines, Atlas Air, Cathay Pacific, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, Emirates SkyCargo, Guggenheim and Korean Air.

First flight - postponed

By now, you’ve seen the news about the postponement of the 787 first flight due to the need to reinforce a limited area of the airplane’s structure.

I can tell you that here in Renton where I work, as well as in Everett and across Boeing, there’s a sense of disappointment. That’s understandable. As 787 Program chief Scott Fancher told employees today, it’s especially difficult given we were so close to getting the airplane in the air.

But is this a devastating piece of news? Not from my perspective.

Our test program is designed to do just what it has done - find issues. Commercial jetliners are complex machines. We’ve noted this time and again. Our testing is what ensures that we get everything right when we design and build our airplanes.

In this case, it turns out that results from one of our static tests identified stress in an area of “side-of-body” structure that was in excess of expectations. We thought initially that we could proceed with first flight by the end of the month. But late last week, after further analysis, we decided to postpone first flight until we’re satisfied we can conduct productive flight testing.

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Boeing conducts a robust static testing program on a full-scale airplane to validate our analysis.

We’ve said all along that we won’t fly until the airplane is ready. And we mean that. Once we determine the required modification and testing plan, we’ll work out a new schedule. This will include a timetable for first flight and delivery. In the meantime, it’s back to work.

Remember, the flight test program includes almost equal parts of in-the-air and on-the-ground testing. The intermediate gauntlet tests we’ve run were considered part of the flight test process. So, in the days ahead we’ll proceed with the final gauntlet test, and then taxi testing as we also continue to work through meaningful testing of the airplane systems. Work will also continue on Airplane #2, the other flight test aircraft, and the rest of the airplanes in production.

We’ve had great progress so far. It’s new technology and we’re learning as we go. The Dreamliner incorporates breakthrough designs and systems that will make it a revolutionary airplane for airlines and their passengers. None of that has changed.

Right now we have an incredible team of technical experts working to understand the issue completely and to develop the right solution. We know we’ll be able to modify the existing airplanes to get them into flying condition.

I know that it might be tempting right now to try and jump ahead of the technical team in guessing at how to solve this issue. But, that’s not how the process works. The team will work with urgency but we’ll give them the time they need to do the job right. They’ll refine our analytical models and they’ll run additional tests. We’ll develop a solution, conduct the appropriate testing, install the modifications, and then get on with first flight.

Finally, I just want to reiterate something. This was a difficult decision for the company in some ways, but in some ways it was not. A lot of people were eager to see us fly in the next week. We considered a temporary fix that would allow us to fly as scheduled, but we decided that a permanent modification to ensure a productive flight test program is the way to go.

So, this postponement, while a painful choice, is also the right choice and the only choice.

Crystal blue persuasion

LE BOURGET, FRANCE - As is the case when any new concept or innovation is introduced, getting the world on board the notion of sustainable biofuels for aviation could require some further “green” persuasion.

I totally get that.

But we now have some good, solid research to back up the commitment of Boeing and the industry to finding new renewable energy sources for use in airplanes and airline operations.

My colleague, Bill Glover, managing director of Environmental Strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, led a media briefing here at the Paris Air Show this week.

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Bill Glover makes a point about biofuels during Wednesday’s press briefing.

At the event, we released some positive results from a series of ground, lab and biofuel test flights involving blends of up to 50% sustainable biofuels.

What I took away from Bill’s briefing are a couple of key things. First, as proven in these tests, sustainable biofuels can perform as well as, or exceed the performance and requirements of today’s jet fuel.

And second, although commercial flights using biofuels may still be a few air shows away, there are tools available right now that we can put to work to improve environmental performance.

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If you lean toward the technical side, you might like looking over the summary of the results here in PDF. Or click the image above.

You can take a look at Bill’s presentation on our Boeing Paris Air Show 2009 Web site.

The results of the study indicate that one type of plant we’re evaluating - camelina - has a lifecycle carbon footprint that is 80% less than today’s jet fuel.

By the way, when we talk about “lifecycle” in this instance, we refer to the entire journey from growing and converting the plant source to fuel, to actually using it in a jetliner.

Biofuels have been shown to have greater energy content by mass than petroleum-based fuel, and of course unlike petroleum, they are renewable sources of energy. Plant-based sources also have the added benefit of absorbing CO2 while being grown - so with biofuel you’re starting out on the plus side of the carbon equation.

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This is the camelina plant, a member of the mustard family. The oil from its seeds is a potential source of renewable aviation biofuel.

Now, for the “what-we-can-do-right-now” aspect of the story, let’s remember we’re already making advances in air traffic management - as we’ve talked about here before.

We also have a suite of technologies available currently that can be applied to environment and energy solutions. Solar cells for power generation, for example. We’re building airplanes with materials such as composites. And we’re utilizing new aerodynamic breakthroughs and electrical systems optimization. Today, as well, we have more realistic flight simulation technology - so there’s less need for actual flying during pilot training.

These are all steps we can take right now, as we work to make sustainable biofuels a real solution for commercial aviation.

As we begin to wrap up the Paris Air Show, I hope these are some of the messages that will remain on the minds of our industry stakeholders here in Europe and elsewhere around the world.

As the song goes, “a new day is coming.”

Magnificent seven

LE BOURGET, FRANCE - Hectic activity here at the Paris Air Show continued unabated on Wednesday. My daily calendar was filled with a variety of customer, analyst and media meetings, including an interview on Argentina television, and German and French press.

Also at the show we announced an airplane order from MC Aviation Partners, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi.

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The crowds on these trade days at the show seem to thin out a bit as we get later in the week.

But back home, we’re making news as well. In Everett, final assembly has gotten under way on the first delivery Dreamliner. This 787 - Airplane #7 - will be delivered to ANA (All Nippon Airways) of Japan in the first quarter of 2010. ANA launched the 787 program in 2004 with an order for 50 airplanes.

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In the factory, 787 vice president and general manager Scott Fancher (r), and Takeo Kikuchi (l), general manager - ANA U.S. Engineering, prepare to celebrate the new addition to the 787 line in traditional Japanese style.

Below, Boeing and ANA celebrate with a “Kagami wari” ceremony, using wooden mallets to break open a wooden “Taru,” or sake barrel, lid.

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Pictured from left to right are: Kinichiro Suetsugu, manager - ANA U.S. Engineering; Takeo Kikuchi; Scott Fancher; and Mike Fleming, director of Services and Support - 787 program. Standing behind them are some of the ANA team and Boeing and Rolls Royce employees supporting ANA.

Seeing all of this only makes me want to echo Scott Fancher in saying to the team, “Kampai” - cheers!

Paths to first flight

LE BOURGET, FRANCE - We heard from Pat Shanahan on Tuesday at the Paris Air Show. Pat is the vice president of Airplane Programs for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

He had a lot to share, including updates for the 787 Dreamliner and the 747-8 - two important development programs on the paths to first flight.

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Pat Shanahan at the Tuesday press briefing at Le Bourget.

I sat in on Pat’s presentation and as expected a lot of questions focused on the 787. When will first flight take place? When will Airplane # 2 fly? Pat had a good followup to what Scott Carson said yesterday, when he told reporters, “It won’t be flying tomorrow .. or Sunday. But thereafter.”

Yes, we’re getting closer to 787 first flight. And I want to share with you a video that Pat presented that I think really captures the building excitement around the Dreamliner as it gets ready for flight test.

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The path to first flight - recent milestones for the 787 Dreamliner. Click on the image above to view the video.

But let’s not forget, the Dreamliner is not the only program gearing up for a first flight this year. The 747-8 Freighter is now more than 50% assembled in the factory in Everett. A second video takes you through the progress.

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The 747-8 Freighter: Assembling the cargo market leader. Another new airplane is building toward first flight this year. Click above to view the video.

You can look over Pat Shanahan’s Paris presentation on our Boeing 2009 Paris Air Show Web site.

Tuesday was an extremely busy day. Interest in our industry among the media and investment analysts remains very high, and I can certainly say I spent the day running (sometimes literally) between interviews and meetings.

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The A380 on its daily flying display, seen above the Boeing Chalet in the blue skies on Tuesday.

Unlike Monday, I didn’t have to dodge the rain. Tuesday was a beautiful sunny day here in Paris. But I’m guessing it will still take some time for my shoes to completely dry out.

Paris: A rainy day

LE BOURGET, FRANCE - The first day of the Paris Air Show started very early in the morning with a downpour. And it never really completely let up. So, most of us spent our time under shelter and indoors on this rainy day.

Although, I did have the chance to take a few peeks at the aerial displays which went on even through the late afternoon drizzle.

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A rain-soaked Air France 777 Freighter on static display outside the Boeing Media Chalet on Monday.

From my perspective, though, the highlight of the show today was Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Scott Carson’s briefing for the media.

You can check out Carson’s presentation, and all the Boeing news from Paris on our Paris Air Show 2009 Web site.

Naturally some of the first questions for Scott Carson had to do with the 787 Dreamliner. Scott’s answer: “If you were expecting the 787 to fly at the air show, you will be disappointed.” He went on to say that Boeing is committed to flying the 787 in the second quarter. “If you count as I do, that means within the next two weeks.”

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Scott Carson meets the press at Le Bourget.

So as Scott Carson says, we don’t have news of a surprise first flight over Paris.

But we do have some news to share and some new pictures of the second 787 Dreamliner. ZA002 moved to the field in Everett Sunday night for the start of fuel testing - which began immediately after the airplane entering the fuel dock.

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ZA002 features the livery of the 787’s launch customer, All Nippon Airways (ANA) of Japan and will fly the livery throughout the flight-test program as a tribute to our partnership in bringing the Dreamliner to market.

ZA002 was used in support of our static testing efforts - it was the airplane used for ground vibration testing. Those tests are performed by “exercising” the airplane – simulating the movements the aircraft would experience during flight - and comparing the response to our predictions. That ensures we’re ready to fly flutter testing.

We also used ZA002 to perform low-level continuous wave testing, where we passed a low-level electrical current (between 2 and 10 amps) through the airplane to evaluate how the airplane might react in the event of a lightning strike. A real lightning strike can generate 200,000 amps of electricity, but the engineering team can apply the low-level results to extrapolate what might happen at the higher end. The tests went very well.

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The 2nd 787 Dreamliner on the flight line in Everett.

Our second Dreamliner is playing an important role in getting us closer to first flight. But this move is more about getting ready for a successful overall flight test program. We need all six airplanes ready to get in the air and perform.

Each of the six flight-test airplanes will be used for a specific set of tests. ZA002 will focus on systems performance. Like its predecessor, ZA001, this airplane successfully completed a rigorous series of tests while still in the factory. And again, I have to mention what a team effort it has been to get to this point as we build progress on the program.

So with ZA002 now out on the field, it’s two down, four to go.

With the Paris Air Show, one day behind us, four more to go!

Sous le ciel de Paris

LE BOURGET, FRANCE - The Air France 777 Freighter arrived here Sunday night. The airplane will be on static display just outside the Boeing chalet this week. I have to say, the landing of the 777 Freighter was a beautiful sight and to my mind signals the official start of an always busy week.

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Touchdown at Le Bourget. The Air France Cargo 777 here is the second 777F delivered to Air France. I’m sure we’ll be talking a lot about the 777 Freighter’s outstanding fuel efficient and cargo capacity during the week.

They’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Paris Air Show this year. This time though, the industry is in a serious downturn, with IATA predicting losses for the airlines in the billions of dollars in 2009. You’ve seen the headlines, as I have, talking about how the economy “overshadows” the air show, or highlighting a supposed “gloomy” mood at Le Bourget.

Well even if the tone is more subdued this year, I don’t think any of that takes away from what this event represents to us at Boeing and to global aviation in general. This is first and foremost a time and a place to meet with our customers, partners, suppliers - to build on and strengthen our relationships with them and to do what we can to make them successful.

It’s also a time for some of our executives to meet with members of the media, and share our views on where aviation is headed, and how Boeing plans to meet the challenges today and in the future

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Economic storm clouds or not, the public days at the Paris Air Show remain highly populuar. A billboard outside Le Bourget promotes weekend flying displays which will feature 3 hours of aerial feats by the latest commercial and military aircraft as well as 30 vintage airplanes.

As for the air show itself, the organizers say that in spite of “this exceptionally difficult environment” there are a record number of exhibitors here - more than 2,000 - and every chalet and stand is booked. The show says that for the first time, Australia, Lithuania, Libya, Mexico and Tunisia will be present at the show.

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Above, the 777F rolls past some iconic Paris landmarks in the distance. Below, pulling into position at the air show.

So as we begin this historic 100th anniversary air show, sous le ciel de Paris - under the sky of Paris - we wonder whether that sky will be stormy or show signs of clearing.

We’ll know soon enough. But for now, let’s start the show.

Back to the future - Part II

LONDON - It’s hard to believe, but the movie of the above title is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. So I think it’s kind of appropriate to have a little fun with it as we get set to take our own annual adventure 20-years into the future which we call the Boeing Current Market Outlook.

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We don’t really have an almanac from the future detailing the aviation market from 2009 to 2028, or a DeLorean time machine, but we do have resources and tools to helps us forecast commercial aviation in the next 20 years.

In the movie, Marty McFly and “Doc” Brown travel to the far-off year of 2015. While there, an almanac of “future” statistics ends up changing their history.

They have to go back to the past as well as “back” to the future to set things right.

Now, when I first went back to the future just two years ago, it was seemingly a different future we were predicting.

Or to put it another way, the “future” (or at least our view of it) seems to have changed since then. Or has it? Let’s discuss this a bit.

It’s true we’re facing an extremely dynamic situation today compared to a couple of years ago – a global economic recession, declining passenger and cargo traffic, and unpredictable fuel prices. Some would argue these conditions call for a dramatic change in our forecast. Well, this year’s outlook definitely takes these current realities into account.

But there’s always going to be a need to transport passengers and freight via our global aviation system, and time has proven the industry is extremely resilient. As I’ve said here before, this is a long-term forecast – one that points to a 20-year period in which the basic factors underlying the need for new airplanes are strong.

And by the way, we’ve had a pretty good record of our forecast turning out to be in line with the realities of the market. Take a look at the chart below:

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Our 2000 forecast accurately projected demand distribution by airplane type and quantity of aircraft ordered. Historically, Boeing has been conservative in our estimate, depending on aircraft type. We under-forecasted the number of single-aisles needed. But we over-estimated demand for large airplanes (747, A380). The table reflects passenger jet deliveries from 2000 through May 14, 2009, plus backlog - excluding regional jets.

Something else comes to mind when I look at this chart. It would seem that the competition has a very challenging task ahead to meet its forecast. In the first 10 years of their projection, Airbus will have delivered a total of 27 A380s. Their forecast in 2000 was more than 1,200 A380s. My math might be wrong, but that means that in the next 10 years they will have to deliver about 120 A380s a year to meet their goal.

That’s all very heavy stuff, you might say. Why are things so heavy in the future?

Anyway, did you know that we’ve been publicly issuing our Boeing Current Market Outlook for 45 years? Talk about “back to the future!” The Boeing CMO is the longest-running complete worldwide jet forecast. And during all that time our forecast has always reflected both upturns and downturns.

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I did a little time traveling of my own this year, back to the 1950s - just like Marty McFly. Actually what I did was dust off a copy of a Boeing outlook from the past, which referenced forecasts we did from the 1950s on.

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Our forecasts from 40+ years ago were used in much the same way as now – to help Boeing develop its strategy and long-range business plan. One key difference: Back then, we divided the world into only three markets: “US Domestic,” “U.S. International,” and “Foreign (rest of the free world).”

We’ve weathered a lot of significant market challenges. But after each downturn, we’ve seen airline growth rates rise above average, with peak traffic levels above those suggested by the long-term trend. That’s why our 2009 forecast sees a future airline fleet large enough to accommodate these peaks in demand, and flexible enough for airlines to adjust or relocate capacity to meet changing demand conditions.

So let’s get to the outlook as I presented it before a group of journalists for the first time earlier today in London.

First, we see long-term passenger growth worldwide remaining strong - at 4.9% annually - driven by global economic growth, world trade, tourism, new airplane capabilities and liberalization.

Second, air cargo will also be strong - with 5.4% annual growth – reflecting the continuing need for speed, delivery reliability, product innovation and global interdependence.

Here’s some big picture data for the Current Market Outlook 2009 - 2028:

  • 29,000 new aircraft (a slight decline from last year’s forecast) valued at $3.2 trillion
  • Regional jet market “shrinking” due to “up-gauging” into the 90+ seat segment
  • Single-aisles will have the largest market share by number of units – driven by large domestic markets in Europe and North America, and growing domestic Asian markets
  • Twin-aisles will have the largest market share by investment dollars – with nearly 40% of the demand coming from Asia
  • The large airplane segment will be small, with a high proportion of freighters
  • Strong growth in China, India and emerging markets will lead toward a more balanced airplane demand worldwide – what we call demand diversity

There’s a lot more to the CMO report, and this year for the first time you can delve into the data right now online. That makes it a truly Current Market Outlook in an entirely Web-based format – with all of the forecast data available through a new set of interactive tools. Data tables are available in Excel, and you download the entire site, including all the tables, in PDF format.

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All of the the forecast detail is available now in our enhanced Current Market Outlook Web site. Click on the image to go directly to the site.

I want to leave you with a couple of thoughts as we head into the Paris Air Show and all of the questions around the market we’re bound to hear. What does this year’s forecast have in common with all the Boeing forecasts through the years? Resilience. Over decades of tracking, despite several economic downturns, the industry grew by an average of around 5% per year.

Clearly, during the next 20 years there will be periods of recovery mixed with setbacks. But we see a similar growth trend going forward. As George McFly would put it, it’s our density!

And here’s a little perspective for the next time you think about our 20-year forecast and how far into the future that seems. For those of you who remember the film, think back to 1989 and when you first watched Back to the Future, Part II. It doesn’t seem all that long ago, does it?

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Boeing’s CMO through the years.

Finally, I just want to mention the use of the word “current.” It’s in the title of our forecast each year because, in a sense, we tear up the old forecast and start fresh with new analysis.

It’s how we make sure that our new forecast takes current market conditions into account. We’ve got a great team working on this every year, and every year they start – virtually - from scratch.

In 2009 our CMO team started from the basis of our current economic downturn. From there they looked ahead at how airline strategies are being adjusted to account for these conditions. Ultimately it takes months of analyzing data from a multitude of sources, even as the data itself is dynamic and changing by day. It takes a lot of hard work and long hours.

So kudos once again to our team of tireless and dedicated market analysts who devote their time and energy to this project – because they care very much about getting it right each year.

Or as I like to put it, that’s the power of love.

Going though gauntlet

I know there’s been great interest in all the steps leading up to the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner.

So to help satisfy the craving for the latest news and images, we’ve made available a few new short videos that take you inside and outside Dreamliner #1 during gauntlet testing. The videos are available on the 787 Dreamliner Milestones site.

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Click on the image to go straight to the 787 gauntlet test videos.

One video takes you through the recent journey from final paint touch up to first fuel and engine tests. A second video takes you inside the airplane during day and night intermediate gauntlet testing. And a third video profiles the team that’s working 24 hours a day to keep the tests going and the airplane running - their own personal gauntlet you might say.

Learning to fly

We’ve just completed the intermediate round of gauntlet testing on the 787. It seems like we only just started and now it’s complete. This is the challenging - but also exciting – aspect of keeping up with the pace of progress on the 787 program.

During this phase, pilots and engineers ran a number of scenarios using all of the airplane’s systems to simulate flight, including power, avionics and flight controls - involving hundreds of test conditions.

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A scene from intermediate gauntlet: Aviation maintenance technicians Jim Strum (left) and Doug Brown open an access panel on the 787 Dreamliner between test scenarios.

The team has a lot more work to do now. They’ll be analyzing the results of the past week or so of testing. And then there are additional tests. Based on what we learned in intermediate gauntlet, next we run the final gauntlet testing.

During gauntlet, as I mentioned, ZA001 is being operated just as if it were in flight. The only difference is it’s still on the ground. We have pilots at the controls and a team of engineers at work stations in the back of the airplane. The doors are closed and everybody is on board for the duration of the “flight.” Believe it or not, meals are served on board and the lavatories are working!

We run these tests all day and night. This is how we make the most of our time, pushing the airplane systems to ensure that the Dreamliner is ready for first flight and the flight test program.

In gauntlet flight, after the airplane “lands” there’s a crew waiting to clean up the airplane, inspect it, refuel it and load a whole new set of meals. And then, the next shift is ready to go for the next round of testing and the 787 Dreamliner continues learning to fly.

Simply the best

Premium passengers, executive travelers, elite mileage club members, the people who really rack up the miles – they know what they like and what they don’t like about the air travel experience. So it’s particularly gratifying that for the second year in a row, these travelers chose Boeing’s long-haul airplanes as their preferred airplane types.

You may recall that about a year ago we talked about the survey in Global Traveler which picked the 747 and 777 as the top two airplanes. They’ve done it again this past year.

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The best is getting better. Here are some views of the new-look interior mockup of the 747-8 Intercontinental. The Door 2 entryway (top photo), and first class accommodations. (bottom photo).

We recently celebrated the honor in an event just down the street from my office at the Boeing Customer Experience Center – the facility where we get to show off to customers and media our interior mockups and services offerings.

The event featured the new 747-8 interior mock-up, a new cutaway display model and the marketing displays for the airplane.

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Our newest exhibit: a 1:20 Scale 747-8 model with a dynamic interior, created by PacMin, the people who bring you a variety of miniature aircraft models, among other products.

During the ceremony, Alexandra Young, vice president and associate publisher of Global Traveler Magazine, presented the 747 Program with the award for “Best Aircraft Type of 2008” – as selected by their reader survey published in the December issue.

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GT’s Alexandra Young and 747 Program vice president and general manager Mo Yahyavi with the “Best Aircraft Type” award.

More than 30,000 readers participated in the “2008 GT Tested Awards” survey for the best in business and luxury travel. You can download the entire survey and article (PDF), as it appeared in print.

Here’s how the top-10 shaped up in the GT survey:

Best Aircraft Type

  1. Boeing 747
  2. Boeing 777
  3. Boeing 767
  4. Airbus A340
  5. Airbus A330
  6. Boeing 737
  7. Airbus A380
  8. Airbus A320
  9. Boeing 757
  10. Embraer 170
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A first look at the 747-8’s stretched upper deck - in business class configuration.

At the event, my marketing colleague Gil Key made a good analogy about the 747. It kind of puts into perspective the fact that the -8 is more than just a derivative of former versions of the 747.

Gil says, think of the 747 family as you might a Porsche 911. Both were introduced around the same time, both are icons of their time. And yet they also continue today to be the most advanced examples of performance. Take a look at the poster image below to see what he means.

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Both vehicles have an enduring design and state of the art performance. They’ve evolved, improved and sustained their status as market leaders.

Would you consider a 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera a 40-year old vehicle? Of course not.

As the readers of Global Traveler will tell you, the 747 reigns supreme today, and the passenger experience will only improve with the new 747-8 Intercontinental. Or as Tina Turner might say, “simply the best, better than all the rest.”

 

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