December 2009 Archives

Sleigh ride

It may not have involved a one-horse open sleigh, but 2009 was certainly quite a ride.

The ups and downs for Commercial Airplanes and our industry this past year are well-publicized. For me, personally, I’ve traveled through the hills and valleys not only along with you here in the blog, but also while circling the globe.

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Now you can put a bow on 2009 - the year ended on a high note with the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner.

In just the second half of this year my travels took me to Dubai for the air show, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam. I also journeyed to the Caribbean and South America.

Yes, I do travel a lot. One interesting observation is that in terms of miles, I did just about as much traveling this year as I did in 2008, but my travel costs were down about 30%. It tells you that the travel industry definitely struggled this year in terms of yields. Traffic was down for business travelers, and fares were significantly lower.

But those issues aside for the moment, as we end the year I’m recalling some great memories. A tango show in Buenos Aires, a rugby game in Wellington, the weekend market in Bangkok, and of course, all the food, such as Korean barbecue in Seoul, seafood in Sydney, and always seeking the best possible fish heads and chili dishes.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights:

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A pair of Qantas A380s, with Sydney visible in the distance. Notice the three boarding bridges. Two for the lower deck and one for the upper deck. I still haven’t had the opportunity to fly on the airplane.

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The Beehive building, part of the New Zealand Parliament complex.

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This dish was my chance to try what’s acclaimed as the best Peking Duck in Beijing, at the “Made in China” restaurant.

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And this was my fish head curry dish in Shenzhen.

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I encountered a giant Godzilla monster in Tokyo’s famed Ginza district.

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Turns out that Godzilla wasn’t such a giant after all.

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A rugby match in Wellington during the Air New Zealand Cup 2009.

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A moment along the waterfront in Trinidad.

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I was fortunate enough to end the year at the ultimate “VIP event” - the Dreamliner’s first flight.

As a finishing touch, I’ve gift wrapped for you a little walk around video I did in Dubai last month. It’s always fun to do these at the big air shows. Take a look.

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Click above to view my video from Dubai 2009.

I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did. For now, let’s look to a 2010 in which the economic recovery continues and airlines see increases in passenger and cargo traffic.

And so, although it’s been said many times, many ways, I wish you a happy holiday season and a great year ahead.

Three's company, four's a quad

This falls into the category of “Just had to share this.” I hope you enjoy the photos.

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We just delivered 4 Next-Generation 737-900ERs to Lion Air. A unique opportunity presented itself to photograph 3 of the 4 airplanes as they were prepped for delivery at Boeing Field in Seattle.

In your eyes

If you want to get a feel for the global impact of the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner you only have to take a look at some of the comments we’ve been getting to the Journal.

From Johannesburg, South Africa, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Medellin, Colombia, Hong Kong, Toulouse, Sydney, Wellington, Brazil, Pakistan, Norway, Ireland, Austria, India, Canada, the Philippines, Portugal and all across the U.S. including Everett and Renton - people from all over have been expressing their thoughts here on the Web.

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Over the weekend we published this tribute to Boeing employees, the global team, our customers and the Puget Sound community. Click above to download the full 787 ad.

We’ve also received a lot of one-on-one or personal emails in the week since first flight. In your eyes, this is an event worth celebrating. We’ve seen a lot of “Way to go Boeing!” and “Thrilled to see the 787 fly!” messages coming in. And those are great.

But I wanted to share a few special messages that have come to us. One Japanese journalist who traveled to Seattle for first flight called the Dreamliner “a multinational work of art.” That’s got a nice ring to it.

From ANA, our launch customer, we heard this:

The aviation industry has long been waiting for the 787 to take to the blue sky and some day carry the dreams of people around the world. We look forward to the day when it will make its maiden commercial flight through the skies of Japan and on to the rest of the world. This is a moment when our hard work pays off and the dreams of everyone at last take flight.

And one aviation enthusiast sent a note to our Singapore office that had a touch of poetry to it, when he wrote that as the 787 “rolled down the runway, I could see the wings flex and begin to curve as we have seen in Boeing computer-generated images and in scale models. I knew immediately that this iconic plane is going to lift-off beautifully. The aviation game has changed!”

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A nice shot - taken by one of my Marketing colleagues - of the Dreamliner’s first landing, with chase planes in formation.

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A banner celebrating first flight - posted in our Commercial Airplanes offices.

Here’s a selection of some of the other correspondence we’ve gotten:

From Jerry, a public official on the Sioux Nation in South Dakota:

Your airplanes represent the entire economic and professional image of the United States. The introduction of the new Dreamliner comes at a time when a boost of proof-positive of our strength needs a shot in the arm.

Jerry suggested a future flight on the 787 featuring “a select group of young, bright, promising men and women interested in engineering achievement.” He also offered his young son, who hopes to become a pilot for the U.S. Air Force some day, as a candidate for the flight!

From Vimi, a manager at Air Seychelles:

It is heart swelling to see it fly!! It is such a fantastic aircraft. I really admire Boeing for what it stands… its people, its aircraft, its innovation. I am not a Boeing employee, yet am so proud of Boeing!

From Alfred, a consultant at the Institute of Management in Malawi, Africa:

This was a wonderful day not only for Boeing and all the members of staff who had built this great aircraft, but also for people like me who had waited for a long time to watch that historic flight.I actually had to postpone supper in order not to miss the great moment when the Dreamliner took to the skies. I have been a Boeing fan for over 30 years. If I had to choose fleet for an airline, it would be an all-Boeing fleet.

From Parviz, an educator in Azerbaijan:

Students of Azerbaijan National Academy of Aviation with impatience waited for this day. We with great pleasure shall spend lectures on the designs of Dreamliner! We wish you new successes in your sacred work!

From a gentleman in Botswana:

Since my childhood I have loved the aircrafts and I just settled with Boeing jets for their good looks and immaculate designs. I went to great heights to see myself flying in a Boeing jet and indeed I got a lifetime dream to hop into a 737. I always asked for the seat overlooking the engine just to marvel that machine at work. I traveled all the way from my rural village to South Africa in Johannesburg just to see the 747 come in and take off. I sure will be on my way to South Africa in the near future just to see the Dreamliner. Thank you for the state of art machine and I have it for a wallpaper on my PC and therefore pride myself as one of the ‘owners’ of a Dreamliner.

And from the folks at the competition:

Airbus salutes the people of Boeing on this important day in their history. The first flight of the 787 is a real achievement and it underscores the continual advancements in commercial aircraft that come about because of healthy competition. In that spirit of innovation-driving competition, we look forward to a continued robust rivalry with our own A350 XWB. But today is Boeing’s day, and – to the Boeing team – we say: “congratulations!”

Finally, some reaction here at Boeing - the video below is from an employee event we held in the atrium of one of the buildings on our Everett site the day after first flight.

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Click above to watch excerpts from our Everett employee event.

I think this video really captures the feeling, as 787 Program vice president and general manager Scott Fancher thanks the team and introduces Chief Pilot Mike Carriker and Captain Randy Neville.

Check out the response at the end of the piece. As the office banner shown above says, making history isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

Subsidies and the "horse race"

It’s been some time since I’ve weighed in on the issue of European government support to Airbus, but Boeing’s position remains the same: We consider “launch aid” to be a particularly egregious subsidy that’s unique to Airbus - and one that significantly skews the competitive landscape in its favor.

So, as we approach the latest annual orders and deliveries “horse race” comparison between Boeing and Airbus, I wanted to share what I think is a good perspective on the impact of government support to Airbus.

It’s written by Dr. Loren Thompson and posted on the Lexington Institute’s Early Warning blog. It’s titled, Airbus Subsidies Have Destroyed Thousands of U.S. Jobs.

Flying high again

At 9:09 Tuesday morning, Seattle time, a beautiful sight rose into the clouds above Paine Field.

ZA002, our second flight test Dreamliner, flew for the first time.

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The second flight test 787 leaves the ground.

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ZA002 in flight, bearing the livery of launch customer ANA (All Nippon Airways) of Japan.

This first flight for Airplane #2 lasted just a tad over 2 hours, and touched down at Boeing Field.

For this second Dreamliner flight, Captain Randy Neville was at the controls and Chief Pilot Mike Carriker was co-pilot. They took the airplane to 13,000 feet (3,962 m) and an airspeed of 200 knots, or about 230 miles (370 km) per hour.

As V.P. and general manager of the 787 Program, Scott Fancher said, getting two of the six flight test airplanes in the air before the end of the year “gives us a solid footing” as we head into a very busy flight test program in 2010.

Boeing Charleston grows

A busy year is coming to a close in characteristic fashion.

Certainly lots of news this week.

Boeing Acquires Alenia North America’s Interest in Global Aeronautica

Journey

I’ve had the privilege of being around for a number of first flights of new airplanes. Back in the 1980s I got to see the 757 and 767 fly for the very first time. And then we had the 777 in the ’90s.

But the 787 first flight was something different for me, as it was for many others here at Boeing.

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ZA001 touches down at Boeing Field at the conclusion of first flight.

On this airplane program, I had the opportunity of being there from the beginning – to see us change our focus from the Sonic Cruiser to the 7E7 (as we then called the Dreamliner).

It was not too long after that decision that one of my colleagues, Tom Waggener, and I got to take some of the first 787 presentations to the airlines to get their thoughts. We hit the road and started to talk about the “definition” of the airplane - what the airplane would look like and how it would perform. It was a pretty special time from that perspective. It was the first airplane I actually got a chance to “introduce” to airlines.

I must have been on the road for two straight months, visiting airlines around the world. I think it was something like 10 airlines in 9 days at one point.

On one visit, I recall sitting with the leadership of Shanghai Airlines. This was basically a chalkboard session. They were telling us exactly the size of airplane they needed and how far it needed to fly. These are the kind of things you remember as career highlights.

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Our Marketing images - from Sonic Cruiser .. to 7E7 .. to 787 Dreamliner.

Ultimately, in April of 2004, I was traveling in China on other business, and was in my hotel room and sound asleep when the phone rang. The voice on the other end told me the great news: We’d just launched the airplane with an order from ANA!

So, with the Dreamliner, not only did I get a chance to talk directly to customers about the airplane for the first time, but my team at that time also helped develop the document we called “market requirements and objectives.” We defined what the airplane needed to do for the marketplace and then “aspirationally” what Boeing wanted it to do. That was a lot of fun.

And now we have an airplane, and it has taken flight - literally.

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787 first flight over western Washington - December 15, 2009.

I think it’s fair to say that with each new Boeing airplane, there’s been a step change. The 777, for example - a really amazing airplane - a twin-engine jetliner that can fly incredibly long distances. We worked hard on the interior of that airplane in every aspect to make it something special.

The 787 Dreamliner is that same kind of step forward. But on a new level.

When some airplane makers design a new product they think, “new features.” But it’s about more than features - it’s about the entire experience. I don’t think our competitor “got” that, right away. As a result, Boeing’s design philosophy for the 787 really caught the industry by surprise.

And now, with first flight in the books, it’s on to the next exciting chapter for the 787 Dreamliner.

Volare

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A number of you have asked to see a photo of the Dreamliner in flight with the gear up. Here’s a great one.

In addition, take a look at the highlights video (below) we’ve put together of the 787’s first flight - from takeoff at chilly Paine Field to landing at rainy Boeing Field.

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Click on the image to view the 787 Dreamliner First Flight video.

Fly me away

Three hours in the air = aviation history.

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ZA001 flew over the east end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 787 Chief Pilot Mike Carriker and Captain Randy Neville took the 787 to 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) and an air speed of 180 knots, or about 207 mph (333 kph).

I was lucky enough to be at Paine Field in Everett Tuesday morning to experience this moment in time. At 10:27 a.m. PST we saw history made. I say “we” because it was me and more than 12,000 employees and our guests on the ground, and hundreds of thousands around the world watching on the Web.

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A shot I managed to get with my own camera at the moment we watched the Dreamliner fly away.

It’s been a long road leading to this day. Soon we’ll be flying 6 flight test Dreamliners nearly around the clock.

But for now it’s a time to share some amazing images, and to celebrate a successful first flight.

Up!

The 787 Dreamliner is in the air!

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Follow the progress of first flight live online at the 787 Dreamliner First Flight Web site.

We’ll post up some more photos later today.

This is it

We’ve launched our Web site dedicated to providing news and updates about the 787 first flight.

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Click on the banner above to go to the 787 Dreamliner First Flight site.

Check the site frequently for updates on timing and for information on how to watch a live Webcast of the flight.

As the title says, this is it. We are ready for first flight - which is scheduled for 10 a.m. December 15 - Seattle time. Of course, and this is a big condition, the flight is dependent on acceptable weather conditions.

Let's go

Successful taxi tests this weekend have cleared the way for us to establish a takeoff time for the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner.

Weather permitting, ZA001 will take to the air at 10 a.m. Seattle time on December 15.

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The 787 reached speeds in excess of 130 knots during taxi testing.

Clearly, this weekend’s testing gave us a glimpse of things to come with the Dreamliner, as you can see in these photos.

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Flight test personnel hold the airplane on the taxiway between test runs.

On the 787’s final two passes down the runway, the airplane exceeded speeds of 130 knots (150 mph, 240 kph).

Our chief pilot, Captain Mike Carriker (along with 787 project pilot Randy Neville) lifted the nose gear off the pavement for the first time during the high-speed taxi tests. These were the final functional tests planned before first flight.

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The high-speed taxi testing included lifting the nose gear off the ground to test for steering response.

The next big milestone to go is first flight. As Captain Carriker said Saturday, “Now we just need the weather to cooperate.”

Keep in mind that in general, Boeing policy for first flight weather conditions calls for good visibility, no standing water on the runway and gentle or no winds. Provided these criteria are met, other factors such as rain or snow fall under the pilot’s discretion.

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Captain Mike Carriker was at the controls for a series of taxi tests at Paine Field - the last tests scheduled before first flight.

We’ll be Webcasting the flight, and you can experience it all, starting around 9:45 Tuesday morning Seattle time. The Webcast will be accessible at boeing.com and newairplane.com.

In the meantime, we plan to provide some video highlights of the taxi tests online, so keep checking back.

Static and gauntlet complete

I wanted to quickly update you on the completion of two milestones as we approach first flight of the 787 Dreamliner.

We’ve just announced completion of the final functional testing, also known as final gauntlet.

We’ve also completed our review and analysis of the static test (to validate the side-of-body modifications) - and the airplane structure is validated for first flight.

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During the static test, the wing and trailing edges of the airframe were subjected to limit load - the highest loads expected to be seen in service. In this image the wing is successfully deflecting 18 feet, or 105% of the limit load. Anything over 100% is considered successful.

Coming next are final flight readiness reviews, receipt of documentation from the FAA, and taxi testing. Of course, both taxi testing and first flight of ZA001, the first Dreamliner, are subject to weather conditions.

Power of four

We’ve reached another milestone on the 747-8 program - successful completion of the first engine runs.

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A good view of two of the four GEnx-2B engines powering the 747-8.

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During the engine run test, the engines are started and operated at various power settings.

After powering down the engines, the team began an inspection that will be followed by additional engine testing.

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About 100 lucky spectators got to watch the engine runs.

By the way, I’ve been meaning to share a new video with you (below).

It takes you from the roll into paint of the first 747-8 through the entire painting process and the finished product. I think you’ll really enjoy this one.

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Click on the image to watch the 747-8 “in the paint.”

Since u been gauntlet

Gauntlet testing of ZA001, the first 787, has started in Everett.

You may remember that earlier this year, I explained that these tests simulate flying conditions and put the systems through their most robust integration testing before flight – essentially to ensure the flight readiness of the airplane’s systems.

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Final gauntlet testing underway this week on ZA001.

Since the earlier gauntlet and during the last several months, we made some improvements to further expand the airplane’s systems while the team worked through strengthening the side-of-body joint.

What this means is that we need to run some of the tests again. The earlier final gauntlet testing lasted more than a week. It won’t run that long this time. I’ll let you know when it’s complete. 

United selects Dreamliner

First thing this morning United Airlines announced its selection for twin-aisle aircraft. Obviously it’s great news.

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We’ve posted this statement:

SEATTLE, Dec. 8, 2009 – Boeing [NYSE: BA] is delighted that United Airlines has selected the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the replacement and expansion of its twin-aisle fleet.

“United’s selection of the Boeing 787 continues the 80-year partnership between our two companies,” said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “The 787 is the first new airplane of the 21st century. Its advanced technology and unprecedented improvements in fuel efficiency will help United achieve its business objectives and enhance its leadership position among the world’s top airlines.”

Boeing looks forward to working with United to finalize the order at which time it will be posted to the Boeing Orders and Deliveries Web site.

KAL goes Intercontinental

I have to make a confession. I’m a little biased toward the 747-8.

So it’s a bit hard to contain myself in light of the newest order for the 747-8 Intercontinental.

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Looking great in Korean Air livery.

Korean Air, one of the premier carriers in the world, has ordered 5 Intercontinentals, the passenger version of the 747-8. The airplanes will join the 7 747-8 Freighters Korean has arranged to operate.

The Intercontinental is going to be great for Korean’s plans to fly to the Americas and to Europe.

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Click on the video image above to watch some computer-generated scenes of the Korean Air 747-8 in flight.

This is such good news for the program and for all of the people who are working hard to bring this great airplane to the market.

Ahead of plan

December promises to be another month of milestones here at Boeing. This week we reached 90% design for the 747-8 Intercontinental.

The program releases the detailed designs in order to begin building parts, assemblies and tools for the 747-8I, the passenger version of the airplane.

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An image of the 747-8 Intercontinental.

One of the great stories here is that we reached this important point a week and a half ahead of the plan we laid out a year ago for the program. What that says is that we’re learning some good lessons on the 747-8 Freighter. We’ve been able to change the way we approached the design of the Intercontinental.

After the 747-8 Freighter design effort, the program studied ways to improve the process. Those improvements gave the program greater visibility on all steps in the engineering development, and that helped the program quickly identify areas that needed extra focus.

Bottom line is that we’re in a better place on the Intercontinental. The program’s goal now is to keep up the progress and carry it over to production which is planned to begin the middle of next year.

 

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