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.

Comments (19)

ALBERTO MAYA R. (Medellín, Colombia):

I have had yesterday the opportunity to follow through Internet the take-off and landing of the 787; also to follow the press conference.

What a nice experience!!!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU!!!

Now you have a real gem in your portfolio. I wish the very best to Boeing with this product which is really a 21st Century airliner.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Geoff M (Orange Australia):

Interesting times and great images...

Just how far away are the first flights for the rest of the test fleet ZA002 through 006?

Cameron Tu (Murrieta, California):

Excellent post. Just like the picture featuring the Sonic Cruiser which progresses from the previous 7-7 models, the 787 has progressed from an image to a very real reality.

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

This has to be your best blog entry - very nice! What a lovely shiny little new airplane you got there! And what an incredible journey to have experienced!

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

The now shelved Sonic Cruiser and the research already done has helped provide the way for the developement of the 787 but I can imagine some time in the future the Sonic Cruiser being put into production with the help of the completed research and materials from the 787.

Though until now this has been a tough year for the 787, I think the real momentum for the 787 is getting on a roll, the next ten or so months are going to be exiting as the testing proceeds and then when the 787 goes into service, flying will will have changed and for comfort, for the better.

Adolfo (Hong Kong):

I followed up the sonic cruiser to the 7E7 to the B787.
Randy Baseler to Randy 2.0. Wow! For me it was also an experience.

I think Boeing should also thank the legion of B787 fans who stuck it out through thick and thin.

Maybe it was the journey not the destination.

Kevin (Los Angeles, CA):

Soon the people all over the world will also be able to participate in the journey as they travel on this technical wonder.

alexandar (oakland):

I like the 7E7. It looks like a space ship.

P.Sumantri (France):

Since the very beginning, I have always thought that the Sonic Cruiser was merely a smoke screen from something much simpler that is a 767 replacement. In general, I love simplicity. This is expressed in my blog entry "Voluntary Simplicity" (click).

I know you won't answer this question with all the honesty and sincerity you can have, but I'll ask it anyway, "Were you personally convinced that the Sonic Cruiser was a viable project?"

Anyway, the 787 now flies and it starts a very exciting phase of certification, production ramp-up, deliveries and then commercial operations.

By the way, enjoy this holiday season.
I wish you, readers included, a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year 2010!

Thiagarajan (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia):

We also must thank you by giving us the privilege of logging into your blog of thoughts and observations to enable us to share this journey.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2010

James (Honolulu, Hawaii):

Some time ago I asked Randy 1.0 if Boeing was ever going to break away from the 707 paradigm. Anyway, we need a Sonic Cruiser or, even better, a 2707. A real supersonic airliner, but obviously an airplane that's more affordable to fly than the Concorde. Hawaii is 2,500 miles from California and, trust me, five-hour flights are super-tedious.

Congrats to the entire Boeing team. I was there, metaphorically, when the 787 was rolled out on 7/8/07 and I was there when the Dreamliner took to the air. It might be a subsonic airplane, but it is a pretty one.

ML (Kent, WA):

Nice stroll down memory lane (with pictures!), thanks.

Edward (Everett, WA):

I was half-expecting a link to a video of Don't Stop Believing with a blog post title like that...

---

Edward,

That's a good one. Not a bad idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=barLaHrtvoM

-- Randy Tinseth

Oliver (Austria):

Congratulations to Boeing on the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner. I enjoyed the webcast of this historic moment in aviation history.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Mark (Sydney, Australia):

I had a dream last night that Boeing painted one of the GenEx powered test aircraft in Qantas livery and flew it out to Sydney on November 16th next year to help Qantas celebrate its 90th birthday!!! Given the events of the last few days some dreams come true! Congratulations to all involved.

bevan:

i wonder if Airbus has truly realized what they have missed out on, by opting for the A380.

T.Rennie (wellington,new zealand.):

The 787 done has done it...congrats Boeing, its been a wonder an privilege..to watch that beautuful bird fly. good luck for 2010. Merry xmas and happy new year to u all. cheers.

Kevin (Los Angeles, CA):

The larger windows make this aircraft look smaller than it is. It's much bigger than the 737-300 or 700 but there is a similarity in appearance that I cannot quite describe.

The 787 will be a wide body, long haul equivalent of the 737. In other words, it will become a best seller which will connect distant city pairs all over the globe much like the way the 737 crisscrosses the US market.

T. Kasuya (Tokyo, Japan):

Congratulations to Boeing on the first flight of the 787.
I realize that the 787 flight deck window is much larger than other aircraft, and the post of the window is eliminated so that the view from the flight deck may be very wide and nice that the chief pilots experienced during first flight.

I wish I can see it.

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