April 2010 Archives

San Antonio Rose

The 787 has touched down in Texas, for a short testing stay in San Antonio.

image/photo

Airplane 3 at Boeing’s San Antonio facility.

After a successful performance in the extreme-weather testing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, ZA003 went to the Lone Star State for thermal testing. You’ll be seeing us bring the 787 to various climates throughout the flight test program.

Thermal testing requires a warm, dry climate, which you’ll find in San Antonio this time of year. We expect the tests to be complete in a couple of days.

Then, ZA003 will come home to Seattle for additional testing.

Temporary adjustment to 787 supplier deliveries

Yesterday, we addressed a series of media calls about an adjustment we’re making to some 787 component delivery schedules. This temporary adjustment is intended to keep the production flow in balance and to minimize out-of-sequence work moving into 787 Final Assembly.

Because of the schedule margin that exists in our plan, the adjustment is being accommodated within our current customer delivery commitments.

image/photo

We continue to complete work on 787s already in the factory.

As we’ve mentioned before, we’ve been working closely with our partners to anticipate and stay ahead of ramp-up challenges in the supply chain and these steps are part of that activity. A few of our partners are working through some spot parts shortages and are still incorporating engineering changes.

So, rather than unnecessarily pass along out-of-sequence work, we’ve asked those suppliers simply to complete the work at their facilities before shipping to Everett. This will temporarily delay (by about a month) the start of final body join on airplanes 23 and 24.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to complete work on the Dreamliners we already have “in flow” in Everett. We’ve made progress in stabilizing the supply chain and now we must continue to actively manage it to ensure the long-term health of the 787 program.

Parts shortages, of course, are not unusual and happen occasionally on every airplane program, and this adjustment will ultimately strengthen our production system.

2010 and beyond

You may have noticed earlier this year that IATA cut its 2010 airline industry loss forecast in half - basically because of signs of a much stronger than expected recovery, with the good start to this year.

I would have to agree with their assessment, and I think we’re definitely starting to see tangible signs of recovery as I’ve mentioned many times recently.

image/photo

That’s the signpost up ahead. Next stop .. the recovery zone?

IATA sees a “two-speed” industry, led by Asia and Latin America right now, with North America and Europe lagging.

As it happens, I had the pleasure of being a guest contributor to the IATA Web site and submitted an article on how Boeing sees the market unfolding right now.

Here’s the download of the full article (pdf).

As I point out, “recovery” is a relative term. Certainly, a lot of airlines have not yet experienced any tangible rebound. But I do think there’s cause for optimism. Meantime, Boeing is taking steps to manage through the challenges in the market - as are our customers.

Now, you may be asking yourself, what will be the impact of the Icelandic volcano on the outlook? Well, it’s going to take time for us to understand. It’s an issue that might not yet be behind us.

Near term, the disruptions caused by the volcanic ash had a significant impact in Europe and adjacent area. But experience shows that air traffic rebounds quickly after events like these.

So I wouldn’t expect significant long-term reduction in air travel demand or impact to future deliveries. While there was substantial cost associated with the shut down of air space, I think we’re talking about a modest impact to the overall 2010 industry outlook.

Going forward, this remains a growth industry, with air travel projected to grow at 4.9% a year over the next 20 years.

Bottom line, 2010 will be a better year than 2009, but, of course, not without its issues.

I’d be interested in your thoughts and am particularly interested to learn whether you think we’ve indeed turned the corner as an industry.

Hot 'n cold

I’ve often been asked by journalists and industry analysts, “What do you do when a flight test program requires us to find, say, cold weather to test in during warm weather months?”

In other words, how and where will we perform our cold weather testing at this point?

As I mentioned yesterday, ZA003 is in Florida this week with a crew of more than 100 people who traveled there from Seattle. It’s where we’re conducting extreme weather testing (both hot and cold) - at McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base.

image/photo

The 787 inside the test chamber in the process of getting the ambient temperature to below -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

You might think that Florida - in the southern United States - is an odd place for cold weather testing, but the McKinley lab has a special test chamber for this purpose. It’s a historic facility - a location that’s been used before to demonstrate the capabilities of the B-2 and a number of other high-tech aerospace products.

For the Dreamliner we’ll first be doing a rigorous series of cold weather tests there. The airplane is cooled to -15 Fahrenheit (-26 C) for one series of tests and then to -45 degrees Fahrenheit (-42.7 C) for another series.

image/photo

Looks pretty cold, doesn’t it? Click above to check out a video and feature story about the “cold soak” testing going on in Florida.

The airplane will remain at each temperature setting for about eight hours - to simulate being parked outside overnight in very cold weather. Then we start the auxiliary power unit (APU) and put the systems through their paces.

So, that’s the cold part. Once that’s complete, we switch to hot weather testing. In this phase we expose the 787 to high heat - from 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 C) to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 C).

The airplane will sit at the high temperature for several hours, and then we’ll use our documented operating and maintenance procedures to power up and operate the airplane systems. Operations inside the hangar will include APU start and a thorough exercising of the systems including the air conditioners and galley chillers.

These tests help us establish that our customers will get airplanes that work for them in all of the climates in which they operate around the globe (and in all seasons).

Q1 2010 results

As is often the case around here, there’s a lot going on, including our 2010 1st quarter earnings results, and the announcement of some major milestones on the 787 program.

First, regarding our financial results, bottom line is we’re off to a good start.

BCA delivered 108 airplanes in the 1st quarter and booked 100 gross orders - with 17 orders removed from the books during the quarter. (Last year at this time, you may recall, our cancellations exceeded gross orders.) We have a strong contractual backlog of 3,350 airplanes - valued at $250 billion.

You can check out the full quarterly details in our news release.

We marked so many accomplishments in the first quarter it would take too long to list them all here. But clearly, among them would be the continuing progress through flight test for both the 787 and 747-8 programs. Both teams are focused and disciplined and working hard toward first deliveries this year.

This past quarter we finalized an order with United Airlines for 25 787-8s, continuing our 80-year partnership with United. Total firm orders for the 787 at quarter-end were 866 airplanes from 57 customers.

Some other highlights:

  • Ryanair took delivery of its 250th Next-Generation 737-800
  • We finalized an order for 20 737s with Turkish Airlines, and announced an order for 10 737-800s with Ethiopian Airlines
  • A GOL Airlines 737-800 became the first single-aisle airplane bound for revenue service to be prepared for painting with a chrome-free primer
  • We delivered the second of two 777 Freighters to Southern Air Holdings, the first 777s to join its cargo fleet
  • EGYPTAIR and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) took delivery of the first 777-300ER to join EGYPTAIR’s fleet
  • GECAS and China Cargo took delivery of GECAS’ 350th Boeing airplane
  • We delivered two 767-300 Freighters to UPS, and a 767-300ER passenger airplane to LAN
  • Two Boeing Fabrication groups received the Fred Mitchell Award for their Lean+ accomplishments in 2009 - at Boeing Winnipeg and Boeing Auburn
  • On-time performance by our Commercial Aviation Services team for urgent customer support requests was at 99%
  • The CAS team delivered four Boeing Converted Freighters, added 206 airplanes to Airplane Health Management, and added 27 airplanes to the 777 and 737 Component Services Program

I’d call that a solid quarter.

The other big news from overnight - the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted expanded type inspection authorization (TIA) for the 787 Dreamliner.

TIA clears the way for FAA personnel to be onboard flight tests. It also marks the beginning of a more complex series of certification tests.

image/photo

787 flight test has achieved type inspection authorization, and ZA003 seen above at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, will begin testing under conditions of extreme heat and cold.

TIA is an ongoing process between Boeing and the FAA. The first step took place in February when the FAA agreed that the flutter testing we would conduct would be part of the certification record.

Speaking of flutter testing, check out the new video posted to our flight test website. There’s another video there too about the ground effects testing we did in Victorville.

In addition to receiving expanded TIA, we’ve reached firm aerodynamic configuration on the 787. That means we’ve validated the design and won’t be making changes to the external lines.

That is really significant. Our team found only a small handful of changes to make. They’ve already been implemented and validated on the flight test airplanes.

By the way we’ve logged our 500th flight test hour, and you may have also heard that ZA003 arrived in Florida for extreme weather testing.

So, that’s a lot going on. And of course we’ll continue to share our progress as we continue on this journey together.

In the desert

We’ve started the transition of testing for the 747-8 Freighter that we talked about several months ago.

RC521 became the first 747-8 to make the move from Seattle to Southern California this week as we focus on the next phase of flight testing.

photo

RC-521 after completing a more than four hour flight from Boeing Field to Palmdale on Monday.

The airplane will remain on station in Palmdale for most of its flight test program, where the team will be testing fuel mileage and engine performance.

The Southern California desert provides an outstanding flight test facility as well as favorable weather for what we want to achieve for the remainder of the program.

image/photo

On the steps of the airplane in Palmdale - Paul Stemer, test pilot (left), and Dennis O’Donoghue, vice president, Boeing Test & Evaluation.

The other 2 flight test 747-8 Freighters will be heading to Palmdale as well in the coming weeks, to continue approximately 3,700 hours of testing on the ground and in the air.

Boeing.com 2.0

As you may have noticed, we’ve just launched a remodeled Boeing.com.

I think you’ll find it engaging and inviting for a couple of reasons. First, our new Boeing “home page” is going to be a place where we’ll be featuring our people and customers - as well as our technology. We haven’t really done that before, and this is an important shift.

We feel that it’s our Boeing people and our partners that make Boeing and our industry successful. So we’re looking forward to telling their stories.

image/photo

You can click the image above to go to the new Boeing.com home page.

Second, visitors to our website can now easily share our content across their social networks. All that’s going to take is a click on many of our pages - a direct path to nearly 300 networks. Sharing our content through even a few of those, means that stories about Boeing will circle the globe like never before.

As with any renovation project, it may be a challenge at first finding where things are. But don’t worry, all of the content from the previous version of Boeing.com is still there.

The prominent images that you will now see on the Boeing home page and our business unit home pages are clickable. They lead to new feature stories - which will be archived for easy access in the future.

In terms of navigation - the links that you used to find on either side of our pages are now found in drop-down menus near the top of a page. You can scroll your cursors over a menu heading to find what you’re searching for - such as our products pages.

We also have a kind of “ticker” with links to current news releases scrolling across our home pages, as well as below the story images and above links to other page sections. An RSS button for subscribing to the releases is attached to the scroll box.

So, take some time with the new pages and then let us know what you think. Improving our website means we can better interact with the world. It’s the start of what we hope will be a wider, more productive two-way dialogue.

GoldCare launch

This week, we launched 787 GoldCare service with Europe-based TUI Travel PLC.

GoldCare provides support to 787 operators that aligns with the new, advanced technology Dreamliner - and it also leverages the e-enabled capabilities built into the airplanes.

We think it’s a great innovation that improves our ability to provide value-added support and we welcome TUI as our launch customer.

Squeeze

How do you fit a jumbo jet the size of the 747-8 into a hangar?

Answer: Very carefully.

image/photo

A tight squeeze for a 747-8 in a hangar at Boeing Field.

The other day we moved a 747-8 Freighter (our #2 flight test airplane) into the 3-390 hangar at Boeing Field. Incidentally this is the same building where I had my desk when I first started with Boeing.

It’s the massive hangar originally built for the B-52 program. Some of us who’ve been with the company a long while still call it the “B-52 hangar.”

The airplane is in the hangar so we can conduct some critical ground tests out of the wind and other weather elements. This is a big part of the flight test program, by the way. About 2,600 hours of the program consist of ground tests.

When we looked at it initially, it seemed the airplane was not going to fit in the hangar. But in the spirit of “find a way,” the team worked it out.

image/photo

As you can see, the airplane just fit. In the end we had to remove the wing tips to get the airplane inside. We also removed the vertical fin tip. The vertical fin would have fit, but just to ensure a safe margin we removed it as well.

The result was a move which saves us an engine cycle because we didn’t have to make an unnecessary flight to an alternate location for this testing.

Under pressure

About 10 days ago, we performed the ultimate load wing and fuselage bending test for the 787 Dreamliner.

As you might recall, we flexed the wings on the 787 static test article, bending them up by about 25 feet (7.62 meters). In addition, the fuselage was pressurized to 150% of its maximum normal operating condition.

Initial results monitored by the test team looked promising. But, of course, you can’t certify commercial airplanes on promises.

Today, we have the results, and they’re very good - all test requirements have been successfully met. The team has completed the detailed analysis of the results - reviewing thousands of data points - and they’ve confirmed our expectations.

The 787 has passed this critical test.

If the photo I shared with you last week - showing the dramatic wing flex - piqued your interest in the test, you’ll really want to take a look at a new video we’ve released today that shows a time lapse of the 787 test.

image/photo

The 787 wings at 150%. Click the image above to go to the 787 ultimate load wing test video on the 787 Dreamliner Flight Test site.

And while it’s exciting to see those long, thin composite 787 wings bend that high, we shouldn’t forget that when we performed this test back in 1995 on the 777 wings, they also bent nearly as high.

In both cases it’s what I truly would call success - under pressure.

Jet City

If you happen to commute to and from Seattle south of downtown, my guess is you’ve noticed the giant new “wallscape” billboard that just went up along I-5.

For those of you who don’t live in the area, take a look:

image/photo

The side of a building in Seattle’s International District has been transformed into a giant “Jet City” billboard. (Alaska Airlines photo)

Alaska Airlines leased the side of a historic building that’s never been used for ad space before. Alaska says the billboard is a way to communicate pride in operating an all-Boeing fleet of 737s, as well as to thank the many Puget Sound Boeing employees who not only design and build the airplanes, but fly them as customers.

Needless to say, with Alaska Airlines right in our own back yard, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have our hometown partner be “Proudly all Boeing.”

More than 130,000 vehicles a day will drive past the 30- by 60-foot (9.1 by 18.3 meters) advertisement. Alaska has the space reserved for 12 months. The Boeing and Alaska partnership ad will remain up for three of those months.

The airline also leases a wallscape in Portland, Oregon, another city where we both enjoy close ties.

April 1

I just had to share a few links - and there may be others out there - to some April Fool’s Day gags from our customers:

Flying trailer

Onboard vending machines

Inflight Clapper technology

image/photo

Southwest Airlines “launched” T7 on April 1, the “next thing” in cargo accommodations.

Especially after the year we’ve been through, it’s always a good sign when our industry can have some fun.

 

More posts