May 2010 Archives

Rocky Mountain high

I guess you could say it’s been a busy week for the 4th Dreamliner - ZA004 has been down in the desert and up in the mountains.

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Pikes Peak overlooks ZA004 as it arrives for testing in Colorado.

ZA004 has been in Colorado Springs for the past couple of days for “high-field-elevation” tests.

Over the weekend the same airplane was at a lower elevation at a hot weather airport in Mesa, Arizona.

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Lower and drier desert mountains greeted ZA004 during testing over the past weekend in Mesa.

A crew of nearly 75 is supporting the airplane during this phase of testing.

For an update on flight hours and other news you can always check 787 Flight Test.

Captains "fantastic"

Just the other day we had the very first customer crew flying a 787 Dreamliner - pilots from launch customer ANA flew ZA001 for about 2 and a half hours over Washington state - and I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to show you a bit more from the flight.

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The ANA demonstration flight taxiing at Boeing Field, and taking off - breaking through overcast skies at 10,000 feet.

Capt. Masayuki Ishii, ANA’s director of 787 pre-operations planning and Capt. Masami Tsukamoto, ANA’s manager of 787 project pilots, took turns at the controls.

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Capt. Ishii and Capt. Carriker relax in the flight deck between missions.

The ANA pilots were accompanied on the flight by Capt. Mike Carriker, chief 787 pilot for Boeing Test & Evaluation and Capt. Christine Walsh, who is assisting on the 787 flight test program.

Also along for the ride was Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program and Mike Sinnett, vice president and 787 chief project engineer.

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Capt. Tsukamoto at the controls in flight.

This was what we call a “customer demonstration” flight. Both pilots did some normal flight and training maneuvers including multiple takeoffs and climbs as well as descent and landings to give them a chance to “feel” how the airplane performs and to evaluate the Dreamliner for themselves.

They also ran some emergency procedures such as single engine operations.

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An incredible view of the wing and engine through the 787’s large window. The ANA flight took the pilots over central Washington and to Moses Lake for multiple landings. Each pilot did 3 takeoffs and landings.

The flight was conducted under a special FAA airworthiness certificate. During the flight, Capt. Carriker (who served as pilot in command on the flight) showed the ANA pilots, who are both rated on the 777, the similarities and differences between the two airplanes.

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At the end of a successful flight, the crew emerges - Capt. Mike Carriker (left), Capt. Ishii and Capt. Tsukamoto.

You can check out a feature story and video about the flight at Boeing.com. As you’ll learn, both Capt. Ishii and Capt. Tsukamoto described their flight as “fantastic.”

I’m sure it was!

34 per month

We announced today that we will indeed increase production rates on the Renton-built Next-Generation 737.

We’ll be increasing the rate from the current 31.5 airplanes per month to 34 per month in early 2012.

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Next-Generation 737s on the production line in Renton. Our 737 backlog of more than 2,000 unfilled orders from more than 80 customers has remained very strong through the economic downturn

As I’ve mentioned here before, the global economy continues its recovery, and we think that airlines will return to profitability in 2011. This will lead to an increased demand for airplanes - especially in the market served by the Next-Generation 737 - in 2012 and beyond.

We’ll keep looking at the need for further 737 rate increases as customer demand evolves.

Spirit in the sky

We’ve had so many memorable images this year already, but this one ranks up there with the best of them.

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The first 787 Dreamliner, meets the Boeing Model 40, our first production commercial airplane, for an in-the-air rendezvous. Chief test pilot Mike Carriker flew ZA001 alongside the Model 40 at 12,000 feet for this shot.

Earlier this month in the skies over the Puget Sound area near Mt. Rainier, two pioneering airplanes met up for a photo op. The vintage 1928 Model 40 is the only flyable version of this airplane in the world and the oldest flying Boeing aircraft of any kind.

This is a very cool photo and moment because these airplanes bookend 80 years of technology and progress.

Away we go

SHANGHAI - I’ve been doing just a bit of traveling, from Dubai to Rome to Beijing in the past week or so, and now I’m in Shanghai before heading home, where there’s been lots going on in my absence.

Yesterday we announced that we’re getting closer to the first flight of the next member of the 787 flight test fleet, ZA005. Its engines came to life for the first time during testing in Everett earlier this week.

This Dreamliner is the first to be powered with General Electric’s GEnx engines and is scheduled to fly later this quarter.

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ZA005 is powered by a “really useful engine” - the GEnx - and will go through a series of ground tests to make sure it’s ready for its first flight.

Speaking of Dreamliners, we had yet another first this past weekend for the 787 program - all 4 test Dreamliners flying at the same time. On Saturday we had the 4 airplanes up in the air simulaneously, with a total of 72 crew members on board.

We also marked the start of assembly on the 747-8 Intercontinental - the new passenger version of the 747-8 - over the past week. This is obviously a huge milestone for the 747-8 Program.

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Mechanics have loaded the 747-8 Intercontinental’s wing panels and spars (the internal support structures) - in the assembly tools.

Lufthansa is the launch customer for the 747-8, which is stretched 18.3 feet (5.6 m) from the 747-400 to provide 467 seats in a three-class configuration.

The Intercontinental is 16% more fuel efficient and has a 30% smaller noise footprint. It also has a pretty cool interior inspired by the 787 Dreamliner.

Prepare for takeoff

It’s been said that it takes three things to start a successful airline. One, a good business plan. Two, a talented team of managers. And three, money - lots and lots of money.

If you want to start an airline, and you need money or you lack good management, we probably can’t help you. But, for the past several years, a team at Boeing has definitely been able to assist a lot of potential operators with their business plans.

Part of that effort is a website called StartupBoeing, which has had about 1.4 million visits since we launched it in 2006.

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You might ask, why get into this aspect of the business? Well, let’s call it “opportunity development.” Healthy startup airlines make good sense for the aviation industry.

Believe it or not, there is opportunity right now. In a downturn what do you see with the big carriers? They pull out of certain markets. And as they do, they create opportunities. So if the right customer comes in and positions themselves in the right spot, they may be successful.

Of course the ultimate question is: “When the economy rebounds and those big carriers move back into those markets, can the startups sustain the opportunity?”

In other words, don’t expect to see huge volumes of airlines starting up. This remains a very difficult business to succeed in. To quote from the StartupBoeing home page, “Starting an airline is tough. Running a profitable airline is even tougher.”

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Click on the screen image to go to StartupBoeing.

You’ve probably heard the saying that goes something like, “Running an airline is a great way to turn a billionaire into a millionaire.” Clearly, in our industry, even good business people or people with a lot of money can make bad choices. That’s why we’ve seen a number of airline business failures.

But we do get a lot of inquiries. StartupBoeing.com was created to answer most of the questions from people interested in starting up an airline. We’ve now logged more than 2,500 requests for guidance. We’ve reviewed more than 100 business plans and we’ve worked with the Sales teams on more than 20 solid prospects. A handful of probable startup airlines are now in development.

So how does Boeing get involved? First, we identify prospects, the ones with the best potential, and work with them to figure out the market and possible niche opportunities. Then we work with them to develop a business plan. We look at the total cost to get going, and then what airplanes will be needed to achieve that. The input and advice we give is based on what we think will work in the marketplace, not just what works for Boeing.

Oftentimes startups begin with used airplanes. 99% of the success stories have been from people who started out with used or leased airplanes. So the key is to identify the business model, the team that’s going to succeed and help them find the resources they need.

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On StartupBoeing you can find Information and images of all of our airplanes - going all the way back to the 707 and DC-8 (above).

After establishing the business model, the next important step is identifying a well-analyzed market opportunity. Without that, no potential partner can understand the risks. We want to identify the best potential among startups and secondary carriers and to move them quickly along a path to getting the support they need from Boeing - and perhaps becoming Boeing customers.

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There’s a world of information available on StartupBoeing, including a useful glossary of terms and abbreviations. For instance, how does Boeing define Operating Empty Weight (OEW)? You’ll find the answer and other definitions by clicking the image above.

StartupBoeing.com also has a wider purpose as a resource to pass on information to our customers - and also as a resource for existing airlines, financial institutions, consultants and the leasing community. It’s a place for neutral industry data. We want to help make the industry healthy and make airlines safe, reliable and profitable.

We’ve seen a lot of value not only in startups coming in to the site, but even with students using the resources. For instance, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Hunt Library has it on their recommended website list.

Boeing is a bit different from our competitors. We put our airplane performance data out there for everyone to see, and then we take it one step further and put it out there in a form that’s easy to download, in pdf files. In fact we’ve had more than 1.85 million files downloaded from the site - more than a quarter million just in 2010 so far.

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Flight decks of the 737 - the most accepted jetliner among startup airlines - then and now. Startups Ryanair and Southwest early on operated 737-200s (top) and now fly large fleets of Next-Generation 737s (bottom).

The data is there to help the industry make smart decisions - to identify and create healthy customers and then introduce them to the people within Boeing who can help them succeed.

We know that the future will be a test of new business models, and this is a time of opportunity. If you were to drive past our delivery center at Boeing Field and look at all the 737 tails, it might occur to you how few of those airlines you would have seen even 10 or 15 years ago. It’s remarkable, and the startup evolution worldwide hasn’t reached even half of its potential.

Our forecast shows that travel will continue to grow and airplanes will be in demand - and as they have since the beginning of commercial aviation, startups will be an important part of that growth.

So, check out the StartupBoeing site, and let me know what you think.

Sully in Seattle

Yesterday’s announcement by the NTSB of 33 safety recommendations following an investigation into U.S. Airways flight 1549 called to mind the recent visit here by the captain of that miracle landing.

The visit to Boeing was several weeks back, but I thought it might be worthwhile to share a bit of it with you.

Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who successfully ditched an A320 into the Hudson River, visited with about 300 Commercial Airplanes employees at Boeing Training & Flight Services in Renton - with another 1,000 or so employees taking part virtually via the Web.

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“Sully” addresses employees at Boeing Training & Flight Services in Renton.

He told a riveting story about the last 208 seconds of Flight 1549, after a bird strike disabled both engines. But he also shared how his life’s journey had prepared him for that fateful day in January 2009.

Capt. Sullenberger told the Boeing audience that his years of training, integrity, leadership and high professional standards helped him and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles make the right decisions that ended up saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew.

Here’s some of what he said:

“What makes aviation so safe is that everyone involved has a shared sense of responsibility for safety and a shared view to make that a reality every day. And there are hundreds of thousands of airline and aviation workers throughout the country who share that responsibility to serve a cause greater than themselves.

“We must lead our lives in an exemplary fashion, offering ourselves a constant, persistent challenge to excel. None of us knows what tomorrow may bring. Each of us has the responsibility to prepare ourselves well.”

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Captain Sullenberger greets Boeing flight line employees in Seattle.

During his 2-day Seattle visit, Sullenberger also attended a book signing event and spoke at the Museum of Flight.

He also toured our Everett facility, met with Boeing Test & Evaluation flight crew members and as you see above, visited employees working on the flight line at Boeing Field.

A great thrill all around.

Middle East market outlook

I’ve been in Dubai, presenting Boeing’s view of the market for the Middle East.

We had a very successful media roundtable, including journalists from Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and a number of regional publications.

You can take a look at our forecast here. Of course we’ll be updating the entire Current Market Outlook in July before the Farnborough Air Show.

Boeing Fabrication Interiors South Carolina

We’ve just announced that we’ve chosen South Carolina as the site for the fabrication and assembly of interior parts to supply the 787 Dreamliner final assembly and delivery facility in Charleston.

You can read more in our news release.

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Boeing Fabrication Interiors South Carolina will make 787 stow bins, closets, partitions, class dividers, overhead flight-crew and flight attendant rests and other interior parts for airplanes assembled in Charleston.

 

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