September 2009 Archives

From Russia with love

I had the opportunity to spend a week in Russia last month, just before and during MAKS 2009, or the Moscow Air Show. This bi-annual show featured a number of what I’d call weird and wonderful aircraft.

It was a weird and wonderful experience for me in a different way, too, as this was my first trip to Russia that was not in the dead of winter! I sure loved seeing green grass in Moscow this time around.

image/photo

The static display at MAKS featured some very unusual (at least to my eyes) airplanes - including the Concorde-like TU144.

I have to say I was very impressed with the intellectual capital I found in the Russian aviation industry - and with the level of concern and interest among industry figures and media in the state of the business right now.

Just prior to the show, I hosted a media briefing at the Boeing Design Center in Moscow. About 20 news articles came out of that. So we had good media impressions and I think there was lots of attention around questions of when the market will come back.

But you know what was probably the number one issue on the media’s mind at the Moscow show? Whether Russia and the manufacturers there will be competitors to Boeing in the future. I also noticed a high level of interest in the regional jet market - naturally because of the homegrown Superjet 100.

I do have to make one note here about the sad occurrences just prior to the Moscow show. The crash of two air force jets during a rehearsal flight took the life of the commander of the elite Russian Knights aerobatic team. Our condolences go out to the squadron and the pilot’s family as well as the family of a woman on the ground who later died from injuries resulting from the impact. Aerial exhibitions at air shows are never routine, and clearly the danger and risks are very real.

Back to the show itself, I’ve been to many air shows over a number of years, and I always walk away with a positive impression of our industry. This one was no exception.

When I looked at the technologies in Russia, the innovation, the passion of people for aviation, it was incredible.

image/photo

The giant wing of the A-50 (IL76) on static display provided shelter for us during a downpour at the Moscow show.

This show is noted for the opportunity to really get close to the aircraft on display (see above). Thanks to my Boeing colleague in Moscow, Mike Savchenko, I was able to get on board the TU144 for a tour and a visit to the flight deck (below).

image/photo

Inside the TU144 flight deck.

Oh, did I mention that there was a fun Russian-made full-flight 737 simulator on exhibit at the show?

Boeing also had our own exhibit and hosted a visit from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Boeing Russia President Sergey Kravchencho.

image/photo

Russian Federation Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Boeing Russia President Sergey Kravchenko (standing, center), examine the Boeing 787 flight demonstrator at MAKS 2009.

Mr. Putin spent hours at the show, walking through the exhibits, doing speeches and press briefings. I’ve seen heads of state at air shows before, but the prime minister’s concentration and focus on the show and the industry was really something to see.

You can watch a short clip of the visit below.

image/photo

Click above to view the video of Mr. Putin’s visit to the Boeing exhibit.

On the airplane on the way home from Russia, I thought back about what I had just done and where I had just been. And really, as someone who was born in the 1950s and grew up in 1960s, this was an experience I could never have dreamed of having. Being in Moscow! Seeing both Russian military and commercial airplanes up close. This is something that as a kid, I could never have fathomed.

Finally, no country report for Randy’s Journal would be complete without my mentioning some of the food I got to enjoy. As you may have guessed by now, I’m what you might call a “foodie.” Even my children bug me about it. Well, on this trip my meals included Russian, Georgian and Uzbek cuisine. I have to admit I especially loved the Georgian cheese bread called khachapuri.

I’m sure I’ll be back again to Moscow for any number of reasons, and not just for the bread. Believe it or not, after several visits over the years, I still have not made it to Red Square to see the Kremlin!

787 "mod" underway

Based on the comments and. questions posted to recent entries here in the Journal, it seems our side-of-body modifications to the 787 are certainly capturing your interest.

So to answer one of the big questions, when will the “mod” begin, I can tell you that we’ve made some good progress in that regard. Modifications are indeed underway. We’ve begun installing the reinforcements on the area within the side-of-body section on Airplane #1 and on the static airframe.

We’re mounting new fittings at stringer attachment locations within the joint where the wing attaches to the fuselage.  

image/photo

The 787 static airframe.

So, here’s the rundown on locations for modifications on the 787 flight-test fleet: ZA001 is in our Boeing paint hangar, ZA002 is in the temporary structure on the Boeing Flight Line, ZA003 and ZA005 are using open space in the factory and ZA004 and ZA006 are at ATS.

Work will get underway in the coming days on additional flight test airplanes.

image/photo

Last week we moved the sixth and final flight-test airplane, ZA006, to Boeing’s temporary facility at Aviation Technical Services (ATS) in Everett. A Dreamlifter is seen touching down in the background.

In a message to employees today, our Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Jim Albaugh reminded us of something, and I think it’s worthwhile to share it here. He said it’s important to remember that the 787 is truly the first new airplane of the 21st century. It’s a game-changer. And as such, it’s a departure from all commercial airplanes produced since Boeing launched the commercial jet age with the 707. 

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Dreamliner - from its aerodynamic design, and all-composite structure to its next-generation propulsion system - will provide great efficiencies and value to our customers. For the passenger, the interior features of the 787 will provide unprecedented comfort.

image/photo

ZA006 backing into the ATS hangar last week. The windows, you may notice, were wearing protective coverings.

Yes, we’re pushing the envelope with this all-new airplane. Anytime you work with new technologies you run some risks. As Jim pointed out, we haven’t performed on the 787 program as well as we would have liked. But our team understands what needs to be done, from now through first flight and on into flight test and deliveries.

KC-7A7

Earlier this week Boeing detailed some of the features of our offering in the U.S. Air Force tanker competition.

image/photo

The KC-7A7 family of tankers.

As you can see in the image above, the Boeing tanker could be be 767-based or 777-based. Each offers compelling solutions.

I would encourage you to check out the new Boeing Web site launched with the announcement, United States Tanker.

The site has a lot of great features, including facts about our offering and our long history with aerial refueling tankers, links to stories in the media, photos, videos, and a new blog.

East by southeast

MANILA – I’m still on the road in Asia where I’ve had the opportunity to present media briefings on the commercial airplanes market outlook for the Asia Pacific region - first at Asian Aerospace 2009 in Hong Kong, then in the Philippines, and later this week, in Beijing.

photo

At Asian Aerospace, my colleague Jim Edgar, our Commercial Airplanes regional director, Cargo Marketing, noted that despite unprecedented contraction in cargo traffic, we remain confident in the long-term strength of the market. Asian carriers will add about 750 freighters to the fleet to accommodate growth and airplane retirements.

photo

A model of the COMAC C919 on display at Asian Aerospace.

In Hong Kong we also reported that based on our forecast Asia Pacific will become the largest air travel market on the planet. We think that in 20 years, more than 40% of the world’s airline traffic will involve that region of the world.

In fact we think that in less time than that, maybe less than 10 years, Asia Pacific will rank as the top air travel market.

image/photo

At the Boeing media briefing in Hong Kong, a lucky drawing winner came away with a 1/100th scale 747-8I model. And that winner was a surprised Charlotte So, business reporter for the South China Morning Post.

After two days of non-stop media interviews at Asian Aerospace I jetted into Manila. Believe it or not, this was my first visit to the Philippines. That’s right. Despite thousands of miles of travel, I’d never before found myself in this part of Southeast Asia.

When I got to Manila, I had just missed some rain showers. Instead, I was impressed by the abundance of sunny hospitality surrounding me. Boeing has a long history of valued partnership with the Philippines dating back to legacy Boeing airplanes in service here since 1946.

This is a burgeoning market where roughly one in ten jobs is supported by travel and tourism. The Philippines welcomed 3.1 million international visitors in 2008.

At a media briefing in Manila, I was joined by more than 40 journalists, with the support of some Philippine Airlines (PAL) executives.

image/photo

I shared some great conversations in Manila. Here I’m with (L to R) Cesar Chiong, PAL senior assistant VP; Scott Grimsby, Boeing sales director; Nicky Gozon, PAL executive assistant to the president; and Jaimie Bautista, PAL president and CEO.

One of the key things I pointed out was that while the world aviation market is challenging today, overall, Philippine carriers are growing. The Philippines market has seen significant growth over the last 10 years.

There are five new jet operators, and scheduled weekly seats have doubled over the past 10 years (based on Philippine operator departures – August 2009 vs. August 1999). Carriers here serve more than 27 international destinations and have 21 jets on order including four 777s, plus two others on lease

By the way, the Boeing 777-300ER joins the Philippine Airlines fleet this November.

From here, I continue my Asia travels for a while longer. This week, it’s several days of meetings in China with customers and journalists.

Undercover airplane

As I mentioned the other day, we’re moving 787s into position as we get ready to start the “side-of-body” modifications.

Well, now ZA002 has made its move.

image/photo

ZA002, the second flight-test airplane - in the livery of launch customer ANA - moved today into a temporary structure on the Everett Flight Line.

I just have to say that’s one great looking airplane inside a snazzy looking structure.

Mod squad

HONG KONG - I’m just wrapping up a visit here at Asian Aerospace 2009. But I also wanted to get you caught up on what’s happening in Everett.

image/photo

ZA004 moving out of the 40-26 building at the Everett factory last night.

We’re moving two 787 Dreamliners into modification locations this week. What this means is we’re getting them ready for the “side-of-body” modification work.

Last night, the 787 team towed ZA004, the fourth flight-test airplane, over to Boeing’s temporary facility at Aviation Technical Services (ATS). This is an area just south of Paine Field.

We leased the hangar space from ATS so we could do the modifications more efficiently.

image/photo

Airplane #4 backing into position at the ATS facility to prepare for modifications.

ZA002, the second flight-test airplane, moves later this week to a temporary structure on the Everett Flight Line, after it completes defueling and getting an aqueous wash.

Those steps are part of the preparation process, which also includes removing access doors so employees can get into the fuel tanks. The airplanes are jacked up, in order to maintain the critical alignment of the wings, and some systems, seals and fasteners are removed. The first two airplanes had fuel in the tanks so, of course, that had to be drained and the tanks thoroughly washed so the people can safely work inside.

By the way, the airplane that will fly first, ZA001, has completed its preps and is in a paint hangar right now, where it will get its “mod.”

Hang on

Four beautiful GEnx-2B engines now grace the very first 747-8 Freighter. Mechanics completed the job of hanging the engines on the new 747’s wings last Friday.

With this milestone, the 747-8 is approximately 90% assembled. Most of the remaining work is in Systems installation.

image/photo

Engines on the wings of 747-8 Airplane #1 in the Everett factory.

We’ve been working toward this moment since the beginning of 2006 when we first announced our suppliers for the 747-8 propulsion system.

Boeing worked very closely with GE Aviation, Middle River Aircraft Systems and Spirit AeroSystems over the past several years to develop and certify the new GEnx-2B.

image/photo
image/photo

GE has conducted more than 1,500 hours of ground tests and 100 hours of flight testing on the new engine. As you may know, the GEnx-2B is based on the GEnx engine launched with the 787, but is designed for the 747-8 – with a rated 66,500 pounds of thrust.

image/photo

From left to right: 747 mechanics Donald Knudson, Mike Millenaar, Scott Asher and Arnie Lightenberg install the left-hand inboard GEnx-2B engine on the first 747-8.

With the new engines the 747-8 Freighter will be 17% more fuel efficient than the 747-400 Freighter, with a 17% reduction in carbon emissions. The 747-8 will also have a 30% smaller noise footprint than its predecessor - QC2-compliant for both departure and arrival.

image

Click on the image above to see an updated video of the 747-8 Freighter’s progress up to power on.

We’re on target for a first flight for the 747-8 Freighter in the fourth quarter of this year. So hang on, it’s going to be a great ride.

Leadership change

Scott Carson is all the good things people have always said about him.

He’s hard-working, he’s driven, he’s passionate about our business. He has a great sense of the history of Boeing – his father worked here before him.

He absolutely loves this company.

image/photo

Scott Carson walking the 737 wing line last month in Renton.

What you may not know about Scott, however, is that he’s willing to go a little “out of the box” to get a deal done. Years ago when I was the Boeing sales director for Northwest Airlines, we had the CFO for Northwest in town. And since Scott was then our CFO, I thought the two guys would enjoy getting together. So I invited Scott to dinner along with my boss, the head of North America Sales at the time, John Feren.

We got to the dinner a bit early, and before my boss got there, the two CFO’s were chatting about the 757-300, the airplane we were trying to place at Northwest. During the discussion, Scott had an interesting proposition for his airline counterpart. I was a bit surprised by it, but as it turned out it was a great way to get Northwest interested in the airplane.

A very short time later my boss John Feren arrived. After John sat down, Scott, with a little bit of a grin on his face, said, “Geez John, I just wanted to share what we were chatting about.” And as he told John his proposal, I remember that John was so taken aback, he lurched forward, hit his water glass and spilled the water in his lap!

What was it that Scott suggested? A “try it, you’ll like it” arrangement. Take a couple of airplanes on lease. Operate them for a short period of time and see how they work in Northwest’s system.

The great thing was, while we never did make the lease part work, the offer really got Northwest interested in the 757-300. They evaluated the airplane and eventually bought a bunch of them.

image/photo

Scott Carson relaxing in his office.

So, as our CEO Jim McNerney told employees, Scott Carson will be missed, but he leaves Commercial Airplanes “with a reinvigorated, customer-focused sales team, record levels of backlog, lean and efficient production lines, and an operating engine that has driven - and will continue to drive - solid results, even in these tough times for the commercial aviation industry.”

Jim Albaugh will now lead Commercial Airplanes, and taking over Jim’s role at Integrated Defense Systems will be Dennis Muilenburg. As Jim McNerney pointed out, Albaugh brings program management expertise and a deep engineering background. He has experience integrating technically complex programs, and he’s also familiar with the issues and concerns of Boeing employees here in the Puget Sound region.

These leadership changes signal an important period of transition during a critical time for our industry. And of course, it’s an especially vital period for Boeing, as we move toward upcoming challenges in the competition for the U.S. Air Force tanker and in flying and delivering the 787 and 747-8 later this year.

 

More posts