November 2009 Archives

Static test complete

Looks to be the start of another busy week already. We’ve just completed the static test on the 787 Dreamliner.

This was the test we needed to conduct to validate the side-of-body modifications we recently completed on the first two flight test airplanes and on the full-scale static test airframe.

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A view of the 787 static airframe in the Everett factory.

In Monday’s test, the wing and trailing edges of the static test airframe were subjected to what we call “limit load.” This is the highest load expected to be seen in service – about 2.5 times the force of gravity on the wing.

No results to report right now. It will take about 10 days to evaluate the data. The airplane did go to limit load as intended, but we’re not going to characterize the results in any way until the analysis is complete.

As you’re aware, a successful result is needed to clear the Dreamliner for first flight before the end of the year.

Highlights from Charleston

Back in Seattle now, getting caught up on business after visits to Thailand and Vietnam last week.

I wanted to let you know we’ve just posted some video highlights of a historic day for Boeing earlier in November.

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Click above to go to the 787 Dreamliner Milestones site and view the “New Feature,” the Charleston groundbreaking video.

There was a lot of news around the groundbreaking ceremony at the new 787 final assembly site at Boeing Charleston.

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A Dreamlifter forms a dramatic backdrop as Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh addresses the crowd at the Charleston site.

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With a cry of “Gentlemen, start your engines,” the groundbreaking begins.

Certainly, this was a major event for the local South Carolina community as well as for our company.

Let it roll

BANGKOK - I’m in Thailand, headed to Hanoi next, and getting set to wrap up a long couple of weeks, which included visits to Dubai and Singapore, along with media briefings here in Southeast Asia.

Speaking of Dubai, a very good roundup from the air show is now available from Al Jazeera. In Part 2 of the piece, there’s an interview with yours truly, at around 4:00 into the story.

A lot to catch up with, and before I head home I wanted to share with you some more material around the first 747-8 including some new photos and a video.

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Out of the factory ..

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.. and headed to paint.

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The 747-8 leaves the factory for the first time. Click on the image above to go to the video.

Earlier this month we published the first pictures of the 747-8 Freighter as it left the factory. Well, call this my Thanksgiving holiday gift to you, more images of this impressive airplane, and a pretty cool video (above) of the airplane as it left the factory.

Below, some scenes of the 747-8 inside the paint hangar and heading to the flightline.

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Above, a really good look at that “8” on the tail. And below, the newly painted airplane rolls on.

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Now, if after that visual feast, you’re still hungry for more, there’s a gallery of images up on our newairplane site.

Groundbreaking

Boeing Breaks Ground on Second 787 Assembly Line

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Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, addresses employees at the groundbreaking ceremony at Boeing Charleston.

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An artist rendering of the second assembly line for the 787 program in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Hot, hot, hot

DUBAI – Our days at the air show started out warm, and just got hotter in the significant heat and sunshine of the flight line.

With little of the breeze we felt during the first day, the last few days of the show definitely heated up in more ways than one.

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In action at Dubai – delivering the Middle East market outlook.

Much of my Day 2 at the show was focused on presenting the Boeing market outlook for the Middle East. About 30 reporters were at the event, all keenly focused on any signs of market recovery.

What I told them is that we see next year as the year of recovery, with profitability for the industry returning in 2011.

You can take a look at a pdf of my presentation here.

Reporters were also looking for news on our development programs, and we had good progress to report both on the 787 side-of-body modifications, and on the factory completion of the 747-8. As I told media here this week, the first 747-8 is now 98% complete, and on the Intercontinental, the passenger version, we have 87% of the engineering design complete, which is ahead of plan.

From that session with reporters, we earned some great media coverage in regional and international outlets.

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A view of the Boeing exhibit at Dubai.

We did see a bit of order news as well here in Dubai. Boeing announced an order for 4 Next-Generation 737-800s from Algerian carrier Tassili Airlines – their first Boeing order. In addition, Air Algerie ordered 7 Next-Generation 737-800s at the show.

But, as I mentioned the other day, clearly this year’s DAS was not about a huge glut of airplane orders. It has been more about building and growing our relationships here in the region. I can tell you that at the Boeing Chalet, we did see a marked increase in the number of customer meetings. And that’s a good thing.

On the flip side, as the week continued, we did see a drop off in the number of air show attendees. As a result, the process of entering the air show through a couple of different security check points and screenings went much more quickly than at the start of the week.

Finally, as the show wound down, I got a chance to tour that newly delivered Qatar 777-200LR on static display here at the show.

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I know I’m a bit biased, but this Qatar 777-200LR is truly a beautiful airplane, both outside and inside.

It’s just the kind of airplane you wouldn’t mind flying on a 14-hour trip from Doha to Down Under. Or perhaps from Dubai to Singapore – which is where I’m headed next!

Dressed to the eights

DUBAI - The 747-8 left the paint hangar last night back home in Everett, and there’s no mistaking the name of this airplane. Check out the super-sized “8” on the tail.

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We’re calling this a “light” livery, and it’s special for the 747-8.

A “747-8” also is prominent on the belly of the airplane (which may a bit difficult to see in the photos). We think the special livery helps convey that this new airplane is unique.

It will remain on the first airplane through flight test.

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Elements of this new look - including the “8” - will be incorporated in the full Boeing livery that we’ll see on a later airplane.

Now that the airplane is “dressed for success,” it begins preparing for the tests which will lead up to an early 2010 first flight.

Dubai 2009

DUBAI – After a full day at the air show I can say that this is a very different experience than Dubai 2007.

Two years ago here we were at the peak of the cycle. Clearly that’s not the case this year. As best we can tell, there’s been no flurry of orders.

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A busy day at Dubai, along the static display area and chalet row.

I’m also getting the impression that journalists seem to be having to work a bit harder to find their stories this time around. Our first day at Dubai focused on media interviews, group discussions with reporters and some TV appearances.

My fellow Boeing executives and I are very busy this week not only with media but also meeting with customers, suppliers and other industry stakeholders.

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Chatting with Dow Jones reporter Stefania Bianchi at Dubai.

On Sunday we saw the traditional “walk through” the exhibits and static displays by the Crown Prince of Dubai and an entourage of seemingly hundreds. We also saw the arrival of the Qatar 777 here. Boeing delivered the brand new airplane to Qatar last week.

This is Qatar’s 3rd 777-200LR and it will be on display here throughout the show. Afterwards the airplane will enter service on a new Doha to Melbourne route - Qatar’s first entry into Australia.

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Talking live on Al Jazeera’s English channel broadcast.

It will come as no surprise to my colleagues shivering in the cold back home in Seattle, that the weather here has been balmy. The daytime temperature has been in the mid 80s (about 30C) with a pleasant, light breeze. As always, it feels a bit warmer along the static display and flight line!

Coming up, Day Two of the show, when I’ll be presenting Boeing’s forecast for commercial airplanes demand in the Middle East region.

Body building

DUBAI – As things get into full swing here at the air show, we have another great update to share on progress back home at the Everett factory. Over the weekend, the 787 team completed installing the side-of-body section reinforcements on Airplane 2 as well as on the static test airframe.

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Modifications are complete on the static test airframe as well as Airplane 2 (above), which has been housed inside a temporary structure on the Everett flight line.

With the modifications now complete on these two Dreamliners, and last week’s completion of the installation on Airplane 1, the focus turns to the static testing to be conducted later this month - which is intended to validate the modification. The team is re-fitting the static test airframe with strain gauges and instrumentation required for testing.

As I mentioned earlier, at the same time, we’ve been restoring the airplanes and completing other functional tests needed for flight test.

Speaking of which, we’re still on track for first flight by the end of the year. This latest progress moves us closer to that vital milestone.

Qatar 777 at the show

DUBAI - The arrival of Qatar Airways’ brand new 777-200LR Worldliner kicked off the air show here this weekend.

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Qatar is “showing off” its new 777-200LR at Dubai.

The airplane, just delivered last week, will be on static display and available for VIP tours during the show. It’s Qatar’s 3rd 777-200LR (Longer Range). On December 6 Qatar plans to put the airplane into service on its new nonstop route from Doha to Australia.

Night moves

The first 747-8 Freighter has emerged from the factory.

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A “night move” to the flight line.

I’m headed to the Dubai Air Show, but I just had to share the incredible photos from Thursday evening - an exciting time for me and many of us here at Boeing.

As you can see, several lucky employees got to watch the spectacle as the airplane was tugged out of the factory doors. I’m sure there was a feeling of pride for them as there is for me as we now get the latest version of the world’s most recognizable (not to mention most efficient) airplane ready for paint and flight test.

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This first 747-8 will be delivered to launch customer Cargolux.

Clearly, assembly of the 747-8 Freighter has had its challenges. Not only is it significantly larger than the 747-400, it incorporates a new wing design, new engines and new avionics. In fact, approximately 70% of the total weight of the airplane is new materials and components, so it’s been a steep learning curve.

As Paul Nuyen, 747 program vice president of Manufacturing, noted after Thursday night’s move, getting to this milestone is a credit to the team’s focus on completing a sizeable work statement while managing the discoveries that happen with any new airplane.

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At 250 feet long, with a wingspan of nearly 225 feet, the 747-8 Freighter is the largest commercial airplane we’ve ever assembled.

The 747-8 Freighter will give cargo operators the lowest operating costs and best economics of any freighter, while providing enhanced environmental performance. With an 18 feet, 4 inches (5.6 m) stretch compared to the 747-400 Freighter it will give customers 16% more revenue cargo volume - four additional main-deck pallets and three additional lower-hold pallets.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be watching with great interest (as I’m sure you’ll be too) as work continues on the first 747-8 in preparation for first flight by early 2010. I can’t wait!

For now, it’s on to Dubai.

Takin' care of business

We’ve taken a big step toward first flight of the 787 Dreamliner. The 787 team finished installing the side-of-body reinforcements on Airplane 1 on Wednesday.

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The first 787 Dreamliner - in a paint hangar in Everett.

Completion of the installation of reinforcements on the static test airframe and the second flight test airplane will take place in the coming days.

Once these installations (which involve new fittings at 34 stringer locations within the joint where the wing is attached to the fuselage) are complete on the static test airplane, the team will get ready to test the modification.

We’ve done a lot of static and fatigue testing at the sub-component level and we’re confident in the solution, but the final validation comes with that test. The static airframe will be re-fitted with strain gauges and other instrumentation for the test, which will take place later this month.

In the meantime we’re restoring the access doors, systems, seals and fasteners that had been removed from Airplane 1 so employees could access the fuel tanks and side-of-body joint. That should take several weeks.

The idea is that once we’ve analyzed the results of the static test and determined the modification is successful, we’ll be ready to put Airplane 1 back into preflight activities. That includes repeating some of the tests we successfully performed prior to the discovery of the side-of-body issue, such as some gauntlet and taxi tests.

Why do we have to repeat the tests? Well, as I mentioned, we had to remove some systems from the airplane to perform the modification, and we also completed some expected software upgrades. Repeating some key tests ensures that all systems are ready for first flight.

By the way we’re also continuing to work on the remaining four flight test airplanes and the fatigue test airframe.

So, I just have to say “hats off” to this extraordinary team of engineering and manufacturing experts. It hasn’t been an easy task - working in a fuel tank never is – and this group has done an amazing job of “takin’ care of business.”

VFR

Every once in a while, I come across a story on the Web that really “gets it” – that captures what our industry is all about.

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Click above to go to the Vero Venia blog.

I want to share one such story I just read, from a Europe-based blogger.

The post is called Visiting Friends and Relatives.

For many of us on this planet, air travel has made “VFR,” as the writer puts it, possible like never before - with the ability today to visit and stay in touch with people we care about, even if they live on another continent.

What really engaged my mind - and heart – about this particular post is how the author, a fellow engineer and aviation industry veteran, first muses about his experience flying on a 777-300ER, along with his thoughts about improving the airplane, and then segues into a very personal story.

Be sure you also click over to his related post, Do it now! which is embedded in the VFR story. My guess is, after you read this, you’ll finally book that flight you’ve been putting off to see a loved one.

Magic carpet ride

We often talk about environmental progress in aviation in terms of improving fuel efficiency and developing sustainable biofuels. But there are many other initiatives going on, including one that is literally under our feet. It involves carpet tiles for airplane passenger cabins.

Maybe you read about it. A sustainable, 100% recyclable carpet tile concept took flight aboard a Southwest Airlines 737-700 from Dallas to Seattle - what Southwest is calling their Green Plane. Boeing co-developed the concept along with carpet manufacturer InterfaceFLOR and industrial design firm Teague.

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The sustainable carpet inside the Green Plane. (Southwest Airlines photo)

So what’s the big deal about this carpet? Firstly, at the end of the carpet’s useful service life it will be returned to the manufacturer and recycled into new carpet. The process is completely carbon neutral.

In addition, with this concept, individual carpet pieces can be replaced, which reduces downtime for the airplane. Right now, in areas such as aisles, airlines may use one single piece of carpet. This eliminates the need for total replacement. It can also be installed quickly with seats in place.

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The Green Plane with special “green” logo. (Southwest Airlines photos)

Aircraft carpeting takes a beating, and may need to be replaced as often as every three months. Right now, used carpet ends up either burned or in landfills.

This new carpet could help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, as well as lower aircraft installation times and replacement costs. Southwest plans to evaluate the carpet during a six-month in-flight run. They see it as a way to design sustainability into the cabin without sacrificing weight or performance.

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This card is tucked into the back of each seat on the “Green Plane.”

Boeing’s Concept Center in Everett, along with InterfaceFLOR and Teague, worked to develop, refine and test the carpet to make sure it met all FAA and Boeing requirements.

By the way, you might want to check out a video Southwest has made available, talking about a number of innovative “green” features in the Green Plane. The airline says that all of initiatives being tested on the Green Plane, when combined, will amount to almost 5 pounds of weight savings per seat.

 

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