September 2010 Archives

Changes

Today as I’m sure you’ve heard, Boeing announced a schedule change for the 747-8 Freighter.

We’re moving delivery of the first freighter to mid-year 2011.

Decisions like this are always disappointing, and most certainly always difficult to make.

We had previously indicated that as a result of some discoveries from flight test it was likely we’d move delivery of the 747-8 Freighter into next year.

Today’s announcement comes after a thorough assessment of the impact of those discoveries, which we determined would affect certification testing.

image/photo

The 747-8 Freighter in flight test over western Washington.

To support the new schedule, we’ll be taking a number of steps, including adding a 5th airplane to the flight test fleet.

Something important I want to point out is that the 747-8 is a complex undertaking. This is not just a derivative.

The -8 flies the new General Electric GEnx-2B67 engines, and has a new wing design with advanced airfoil, an improved flight deck with new features, extensive use of advanced materials and on the passenger version a new interior.

So while the shape is familiar, this is virtually a new 747.

Finding and resolving issues is why we flight test our new airplanes. In this case, the process is doing what is intended, so that in the end we’re going to deliver to our customers the world’s most efficient freighter.

Big numbers

Over the past few months I’ve noticed some creative ad campaigns produced by a couple of our really good industry partners. I wonder if you’ve seen them as well.

The first features the 777 Freighter.

image/photo

In this ad for Hong Kong and Shanghai, the message in the airplane shape says, “New, faster 777 freighters. So you don’t have to rush.”

FedEx Express was running this ad campaign throughout Asia over the summer, promoting the 777 Freighter’s efficiency and environmental responsibility. The 777F entered service connecting Shanghai and Hong Kong with the FedEx Memphis hub in January.

As you can see, the messaging is designed in the shape of of 777F, filled with Asian characters. The campaign ran in seven key Asia Pacific markets — China, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.

In some of the ads the message reads: “18 percent lower emission aircraft … because the environment has deadlines too.”

More and more of FedEx’s customers view sustainability as increasingly important. and the company has undertaken a 15-year initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity from its FedEx Express global air operations by 20% per available ton mile by 2020.

The second campaign I wanted to mention involves our great engine partner CFM.

image/photo

CFM has installed billboards such as this one throughout Seattle this year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the CFM56-powered 737.

The Boeing 737 and CFM go back to October 1980 when we signed a agreement for the CFM56-3 to be the sole engine on what is now called the 737 Classic.

We renewed the agreement about a decade later to include the CFM56-7B for the Next-Generation 737s.

image/photo

The CFM billboards are on display at several spots inside Sea-Tac International Airport as well as in Everett, south Seattle near Boeing Field, and in various locations in Renton near the Boeing plant.

As CFM International puts it, CFM could not have achieved its status as one of the world’s largest commercial aircraft engine manufacturers without their relationship with Boeing.

So the billboards are their way of saying “thank you” to the people who work day in and day out on the 737 Program.

And I say thank you to both FedEx and CFM for their great partnerships with Boeing.

Dream weaver (Part II)

Earlier this year I shared Part I of my conversation with Klaus Brauer.

Klaus, Boeing’s long-time “guru” on aircraft interiors, retired from Boeing in 2009 after a 30-year career with us.

Following a very busy several months I finally have the opportunity this week to bring you Part II of our conversation.

image/photo

Klaus Brauer with a model of the “7E7” - which became the 787 Dreamliner.

One of the fascinating things about Klaus is that he holds U.S. and international patents for the mathematical processes of optimizing seating configurations on commercial airplanes and relating to the design and use of premium seating.

His patented “Total Personal Space” model is in use by many airlines today.

Klaus is a self-professed “nerd,” with degrees from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

His career also happened to include service as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, with nearly four years of that service attached to the Belgian Air Force - where he earned the rank of captain.

Here’s the second part of my conversation with Klaus Brauer:

In terms of innovation, what’s been the biggest surprise to you, of something that came into the interior of an aircraft that was either a really big hit, or just flopped? Something that just surprised you one way or another.

It’s the 787 architecture, that family of architectures. And it just goes back to the process, discovering psychologically what you were trying to make happen. We hadn’t thought about things in those terms before.

We’d thought, “This is a room, let’s make it look big, let’s make it nifty.” But we’d always thought of it as just a room. We’d never though before about what we want to do for the passenger. And then that evolved all the way to some extraordinary lighting that makes it click.

image/photo

787 entryway and lighting - part of the new interior “architecture.”

I think whether it’s the interior or any other part of the 787, it’s an airplane that is truly greater than the sum of its parts, in every way. Whether it’s the interior or the performance of the airplane, I don’t think any one piece can explain the market success that the airplane has had.

I don’t want to claim that the interior is responsible for all this success. But, I will tell you, taking customers into the mockup - they get it. It’s quite amazing to watch the reaction of people when they go in there. And now the 737.

When I first walked into the 787 mockup I couldn’t believe it could get any better. And I don’t want to say it is better, but I couldn’t believe what you guys did with the 747-8. Taking that palette and then being able to take some of the some concepts into the 737.

I was recently thinking about all the innovation that we’ve done as a company in our products over the years, and it’s pretty impressive.

And I looked at Airbus and I thought, they copy us a lot, but they really haven’t done anything interesting since they put in fly-by-wire on an A320 and went to a side stick.

I may be wrong, but what do you think separates Boeing and the competition?

I think what separates us now is, we have worked with Teague for more than 60 years now.

Teague has a commitment to us that is unlike anyone’s commitment to Airbus. They’ve been with us so long that they fully understand the manufacturing issues and those of the industry, such as certification.

I’ve seen so often designers from outside the industry approach a customer with, “Here’s a new product concept.” And the initial sketches are gorgeous, but by the time you get to reality, it just doesn’t happen.

And that’s a huge advantage we have, architecting spaces inside airplanes - that is not a skill you gain anywhere else.

image/photo

Klaus Brauer, sharing his passion for airplane interiors.

Airbus hasn’t had a long relationship such as ours with Teague and that’s a disadvantage to them, and they’ve been very frank with me about that. The other thing is, I mentioned the psychological research on the 787.

Airbus has not taken on a similar kind of research. They use some more traditional methods and I think that’s led them to do, well, good, but more traditional industrial design approaches to these spaces, and not enlightened in the same way.

I see them watching what we’ve done. But it’s the funniest thing, that unless you really understand what’s down at the bottom of the research, you don’t get it right.

A good example of that is if you take a look at the upper deck of the A380. I mean, somebody took a photograph of a 777 and compared it and it looks like they tried to take that and just scale it a bit different.

I would say it’s of the same design family, yes.

So Klaus, turning to the future of our industry, what’s next?

I think the best answer is in the Next-Generation 737 now. Our best body of knowledge is what we’ve revealed in the “Boeing Sky Interior” for the 737. It’s the best we know.

We had a whole new bank of insights that led to the 787, 747-8 and new 737 interiors. Boeing Sky Interiors as a group, as I call them. We haven’t had an awakening to a whole new sense of the world. Maybe we never will.

image/photo

What’s next: the 737 Boeing Sky Interior - in a 2-class configuration.

But the next new thing? It’s really in the product mix of airlines. Business class now costs four, sometimes five times as much as economy fares.

Business travel demand is dropping. It’s expensive, economies aren’t so great right now. But even before the recent economic crisis, we had a majority of business travelers traveling in economy class! And now still more. That’s bad for everybody.

We have business travelers dropping back to a product that is simply not appropriate for them. At the same time the airlines are losing a huge amount of revenue.

And so there’s an ever more urgent need for a product between the two, and it’s generally called premium economy class or some branded name. We’ve seen lots of requests from airlines for studies.

While there are premium economy classes out there now, they’re all over the map in terms of number of seats per airplane, fraction of cabin size, fare surcharge, and in terms of precisely what the product is in terms of its width.

So my recent analytical passion has been to really study the heck out of that. I saw my retirement coming so it was a great time to look at how am I going to analyze this thing. So I published a paper on it. [Follow the link and flip to page 40.]

Finally, Klaus, is there any place that stands out to you as the perfect trip? You’re retiring, but I know you’re not going to stop traveling.

Let me tell a story. At the 787 rollout we had a customer event at the Museum of Flight, and along the stairs there were flight attendants stationed, and as you walked up the stairs they were saying “hello”, “g’day mate”, or whatever their native greeting was.

I was walking up and I heard a woman’s voice say “teanastëllën” which is “hello” in Amharic, the Ethiopian language. And it just stopped me in my tracks. I turned on a dime, went over and gave her the biggest hug.

image/photo

On the red carpet at the 787 Premiere, greeting a flight attendant from Ethiopian Airlines.

I love the Ethiopians. Ethiopian Airlines was one of my first customers back in the early 80s. I had just wonderful experiences working there.

The landscape is magnificent and the food is exquisite, but the real thing is the people. Their intelligence, self awareness and grace in difficult circumstances made an indelible impression on me. I was just undone to be greeted in Amharic again!

What a great story. And what a fun chat that was!

By the way, in case you’re wondering, as Klaus Brauer retired, he left a strong airplane interiors group in place, including Ken Price, Kent Craver, and Colleen Rainbolt, as well as Blake Emery, who Klaus mentioned in the first part of our discussion. Klaus’s legacy is certainly in great hands.

Klaus confirms that he’s not going to stop traveling - or working. He half-jokingly pointed out that he has school tuition for his children to deal with, and he might be looking into consulting work!

Before Klaus packed up his Boeing office, he left some parting thoughts in an email to colleagues.

He said there’s “greatness in this company’s genes,” and as he put it, “those genes of greatness make everything possible.”

Thank you for those inspiring words, Klaus, and the very best of everything to you on your new journey in life.

Do it again

AUCKLAND - One more item to mention from the other side of the world.

A few months back we talked here about the fact that Boeing would be keeping a close eye on the market to see whether we needed to announce a further rate increase for production of the Next-Generation 737.

Today we decided to “do it again,” so to speak. We’re raising the production rate to 38 airplanes per month in the second quarter 2013.

image/photo

The 737 line in Renton - ramping up production over the next several years.

The popularity of the Next-Generation 737 and the surging demand for single aisles is continuing - with every sort of airline in every part of the world - and that’s the reason behind our announcement.

This step continues the measured approach we talked about in May, and then again in June.

The approach begins with an increase from the current rate of 31.5 to 35 in early 2012. Then we increase from 35 to 38 per month after a stabilization period of about 15 to 18 months.

Needless to say, the 737 team continues to study how to meet increasing demand - based on airline fleet renewal and growth - so we can provide the airplanes they need sooner rather than later.

Airlines placing orders now will get 737s mid-decade. Of course, our customers have a long planning horizon, which means they’re able to place orders well ahead of their projected need. But as you can imagine, airlines can wait only up to a certain point.

So, the answer to this “dilemma” is to increase our rate so that we keep the backlog manageable.

image/photo

The overall plan in the Renton factory includes a combination of capital investments, additional tooling and continued pursuit of Lean improvements by Boeing as well as our suppliers.

The 737 team is at the highest production rates ever and yet managed to introduce the 737 Boeing Sky Interior into the production system this summer. We’ll be delivering that great new interior to five airlines later this year.

Not only that, our Next-Generation 737 customers will gain from a 2% reduction in the airplane’s fuel consumption by early 2012 through a combination of airframe and engine improvements.

Given all they’ve done so far, I can’t think of a better or more capable team than the folks on the 737 Program when it comes to increasing efficiency - and doing it again and again!

WTO interim decision in EU case

AUCKLAND - In New Zealand for the next couple of days, meeting with reporters and customers here, as I did in Australia earlier in the week.

Of course, the news back in the States has also caught my attention as it often does when I travel. You’ve probably read or heard that the World Trade Organization has issued an interim ruling in the European Union’s case regarding alleged government subsidies to Boeing.

Although the interim decision is confidential, there’s been a lot of “buzz” based on reports from people who are familiar with its contents. We’ve posted our response to those reports:

Boeing Response to Public Reports Regarding the WTO’s Interim Decision

A day in the life

SYDNEY - I’m Down Under at the moment, where I’ve had a successful media briefing discussing our 20-year market forecast for the region. I’m also heading to New Zealand later in the week.

Meantime, I wanted to touch base on some progress back home for the Dreamliner. It’s called “fatigue testing,” but engineers on the 787 program are definitely not feeling any fatigue of their own as they begin this critical phase of testing.

image/photo

The 787 structural airframe in the test rig.

The fatigue testing on the 787 structural airframe in Everett is intended to demonstrate the ability of the Dreamliner to maintain its structural integrity over its lifetime.

If you’ve never seen fatigue testing before, the photos here give you a good idea of what it’s all about.

photo

Fatigue testing exposes the structural airframe to the typical operating loads that a fleet of 787s would experience while in service.

A full-scale airframe is placed in a test rig. There we simulate more than three times the design service objective for the 787.

This is also an opportunity to check the structural inspection and maintenance procedures as well as the durability of the airframe structure.

We’ve put together a short video piece explaining what fatigue testing is all about. You can check it out below:

The loading is applied in a series of segments representing a flight - from pushback at the departure gate to arrival at the destination gate.

We call this a ground-air-ground (GAG) cycle, and yes, it includes both ground and flight loads.

We run five different types of cycles representing differences in duration and severity of flights in the fleet.

image/photo

So, this “day in the life” process now under way is one more series of tests for the Dreamliner.

It will all ultimately help us ensure the 787 will provide the lifetime of safe and reliable service our customers and their passengers will expect for many years to come.

AERO Q3 2010

A few years back I was really tied in to the 747-8 Program as its Customers Leader. So I was more than a bit intrigued when I saw the new edition of AERO just out.

image

You can click on the cover image above to go directly to AERO online.

This edition features several articles, including a wonderful description of the 747-8 and its capabilities.

It’s a piece I think you’ll find very interesting.

The beat goes on

As you may have heard, we’ve begun assembly on the 1,000th Boeing 767.

It’s a significant milestone, and a proud moment for the entire team in Everett. This 1,000th airplane is a 767-300ER (extended range) passenger model. ANA is scheduled to take delivery of the airplane in February 2011.

Major assembly got underway this week with the loading of the wing spar into the assembly tool - the structure that runs through the full length of the airplane’s wing.

We’ve put together a behind-the-scenes video that depicts where we’ve been and where we’re going on the 767 program. I think you’ll enjoy it:

We’ve also just posted a brief clip featuring some 767 tributes we’ve received via Twitter.

By the way, 767 final assembly is getting set to move from its home in the 40-24 building to a new final assembly bay across the aisle in the 40-32 building.

Several pieces of tooling have already been moved and construction continues to prepare the new final assembly bay, including a new hangar door so the 767 can roll out of the 40-32 on its way to the paint hangar and the Everett Delivery Center for flight test.

image/photo

“A thousand reasons to celebrate,” as this banner reads. Not only a milestone airplane, but a move for the program to a new area of the factory.

The program’s new footprint will be about 40% of the size of the current 767 assembly area, but still large enough for final assembly of two 767s, either passenger or freighter airplanes, nose to door.

Of course, the 767 is also the platform for the NewGen Tanker if Boeing wins the U.S. Air Force KC-X Tanker competition - and the new bay is equipped to handle the job.

So, for this great airplane program the beat very definitely goes on. Early in my career when I was working in the Flight Test organization I had the chance to see the first 767 land at Boeing field. As I recall it was designated VA001.

My guess is that I won’t be seeing the last 767 fly away. At least not before I retire.

Breakfast in (North) America

MONTREAL - Nothing like waking up to a breakfast of cold cereal and juice together with a dose of hot, muggy end-of-summer weather. It’s been in the low 30s Celsius here this week (around 90 F) - and coming from the chilly Pacific Northwest, that’s quite a change.

It was my first time back to Montreal in nearly a decade. I used to come here quite frequently when I supported Boeing sales for Air Canada.

This time I was here was to release the 2010 market outlook for North America along with taking the opportunity to spend the better part of my Thursday morning here with journalists.

image/photo

I had a lively roundtable session with Montreal-based reporters.

North America is obviously a huge aviation market, comprised of Canada and the United States. One point I made with reporters here in Montreal (and in Calgary) this week is that while Canada makes up a little less than 10% of the North America forecast for new airplane deliveries, that’s only because it’s in comparison with the even larger U.S. market.

Canada taken by itself ranks among the top-20 countries worldwide for airplane demand.

In terms of the regional forecast, the key numbers are these: North American airlines will take delivery of about 7,200 new commercial airplanes between now and 2029 - a $700 billion investment.

Now the interesting thing about this particular region is that the deliveries will be driven largely by replacement demand - and predominantly in the single-aisle segment, as airlines in Canada and the U.S. retire their older, less fuel-efficient airplanes and replace them with new-generation, more fuel-efficient models.

image/photo

Fully 2/3 of North America commercial airplane deliveries will be for replacement - with the region’s fleet growing from 6,590 airplanes today to about 9,000 airplanes by 2029.

Our forecast predicts that nearly 3/4 of the new deliveries in this region over the next 20 years will be single-aisles.

Of course it wouldn’t be a media roundtable in Montreal without a lot of questions around another aspect of the single-aisle market - future competition, specifically from the hometown airplane maker, Bombardier.

In response to some pointed questions, basically asking for my views on the CSeries, I mentioned to reporters that Bombardier has entered the detailed design phase of the development process - this is the beginning of the real hard work. I said that ultimately the CSeries would be a good airplane, but I’m not sure it will be as good as advertised.

I got a lot of questions as well about Boeing’s plans in this segment. Will we continue with the incremental improvements on the Next-Generation 737, will we re-engine the airplane or will we do an all-new airplane?

It’s something we’re looking at closely right now - as is Airbus with the A320 - and there’s a lot of speculation about who will make the first move. What I said today just about sums up the challenge: There are advantages to being the first mover. There are advantages to being the second mover. But at the end of the day what you want to be is the best mover.

Earlier in the week, as I mentioned, we stopped in Calgary to meet with media there. It was actually the first chance I’ve ever had to spend any time on the ground in Calgary - a booming western Canada city and the home of our good Boeing customer, WestJet.

image/photo

You see lots of construction cranes around Calgary - a fast-growing market.

It’s an interesting mix of cowboys, “the great outdoors” (one of the main freeways into town is called Deerfoot Trail) and modern business where skyscrapers are going up so fast you’d never know we’d been through an economic downturn.

Finally, I want to point out, as I did during my visit this week, that we have a long and deep relationship with Canada. Boeing Commercial Airplanes works with more than 500 suppliers and partners here. Boeing imports Canadian parts and services amounting to more than a billion U.S. dollars a year - more than $625 million of which is associated with Commercial Airplanes.

So, it’s been an enjoyable week in Canada, but for now, I’m looking forward to a long holiday weekend - a time to recharge my batteries before resuming a busy travel schedule the rest of the year - and inevitably, a lot of breakfasts not in America.

 

More posts