October 2010 Archives

Short stop

As you may have seen from my recent entries and from stories that have appeared in the media, I’ve been out on the road quite a lot over the past few weeks. I showed you some pictures from my time in Japan and Korea; since that time, I visited Munich, Moscow, Singapore and Miami — all without setting foot back in Seattle.

At my stops in Munich and Miami, I had the opportunity to speak at two important conferences —the International Society of Transport Aircraft Traders (ISTAT) in Munich, and Cargo Facts in Miami. My guess is that combined attendance for these events was more than 1,000. That’s a real sign that the market’s on an upswing.

This week is a welcome respite for me and my family, as I’m back at home, with a chance to take a deep breath, relax a little bit and get my act together for my next trip — I’ll be in China next week to present the Current Market Outlook forecast for that region, and visit the Airfinance Journal conference in Hong Kong Nov. 4-5.

As I prepare for my upcoming trip, my office has been abuzz with activity as we look back on 2010 and look ahead to 2011.

By any measure, 2010 has been a good year for the commercial air transport industry: worldwide economic growth has averaged a strong 3.7 percent; passenger traffic has grown at about 7 percent for the year; and cargo traffic is up 19 percent. IATA now says that the world’s airlines will make close to $9 billion in profits for the year.

It’s a good time to look back and see what’s been a good year. Here’s a video that we shared with BCA employees at third-quarter earnings last week that lists some of their accomplishments over the quarter — our people do amazing things every day!

With 2010 almost in the books, our focus is turning to 2011. So, what do we expect? We estimate that GDP will grow at or slightly above our long-term forecast; passenger traffic will be up 5% and cargo traffic up 6%. And just like 2010, IATA forecast another year of airline profitability. Certainly good news for airlines that are looking to further repair their balance sheets or are investing in the future.

In addition to looking at this year and next from a business standpoint, I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to discuss in the blog as we work our way to the end of the year. Some of the things I plan to talk about include: the continued strength of the single-aisle market and the future of that market; the return of twin-aisles; the ABCs of production rates; Boeing’s forecast for pilots and mechanics; the upcoming release of our cargo and freighter forecast; and our view on seating capacity.

Of course, this blog is supposed to be a dialog — so what’s on your mind? What issues would you like to discuss over the coming months?

Third-quarter earnings

Today Boeing posted its third-quarter earnings, and they’re pretty solid.

Here’s a link to our release.

Join together

You might remember that before I moved into my current role, I spent a lot of time on the 747 program, including as vice president of Marketing for the 747-8. So you’ll understand when I say how thrilled I was to learn that the first 747-8 Intercontinental passenger jet was loaded into final body join last week.

That means we have completed the airplane’s main structural build and joined all of the major fuselage sections together. Following final body join, the airplane will move into final assembly before leaving the factory in the first quarter of 2011

I’d like to invite you to watch the video below and check out our team as we join together the next queen of the skies.

2,000 hours and counting

We’ve just completed our 2,000th hour of flight testing on the 787 Dreamliner.

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ZA002 in Iceland for crosswind testing.

ZA001 continues to be the high-hour airplane with more than 655 hours of flying time. ZA002 hasn’t flown as many flights - with 164 compared to 238 for ZA001 - but it tends to fly longer flights and has logged 529 hours in the air.

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Community noise testing in my home state of Montana, near the town of Glasgow.

There’s still a fair bit of flying to go - with extended operations and function and reliability testing yet ahead of us. We’re also making our way through the FAA demonstrations required for certification.

All these things that I've done

September, October and November are traditionally busy travel months for me and this year is no exception.

Last week, I was in Northeast Asia, touching the Japanese and South Korean markets - you may have seen some of the media coverage.

One thing’s for sure — The aviation landscape sure has changed since my first trip to Tokyo in the early ’90s. Back then, the 747 truly was the queen of the Asian skies: those airplanes were parked at Narita nearly as far as the eye could see. Today, the 767 and the 777 have given Asian fliers much greater choice in routes and flights. And the 787 promises to stimulate still more change.

It’s welcome change in that it gives many more people the opportunity to see Asia, a part of the world I that I have come to love to visit.

On this trip, my cell-phone camera has been handy for capturing the sights — I hope these pictures are clear enough to give you a taste of my experiences this past week.

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Speaking of taste: On this visit, I tried something new, visiting one of the many monjayaki restaurants in Tokyo’s Tsukishima district. I really enjoyed it, but katsudon is still my favorite by far.

In addition to great food, Tokyo’s also the home of my favorite hotel, the Peninsula.

Just a couple weeks ago, I had an opportunity to share my appreciation for this fine place in a “frequent traveler” story in the Australia Finance Review (I’d share a link, but the website is for paid subscribers only).

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Here I am with a Peninsula Hotel bellhop outside one of my favorite hotels in the world. (photo by Rob Henderson)

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Among the people I saw on Insa-dong Street were these three girls in traditional chima skirts and jeogori blouses.

After Tokyo, I headed to Seoul, where I had a walk through Insa-dong Street.. It’s famous as a market street that features fine antiques, street vendors, art galleries and wonderful places to eat.

I love to grab a window seat in a second or third floor tea or coffee house and watch the crowds pass by.

I try to visit local markets whenever I can — my kind of shopping is when I can find something that I just can’t find at home.

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An artist on Insa-dong Street hand-paints a fan.

Even when I’m on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, I can see a little hint of Seattle. But I did have to look twice!

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Yes, it’s a Starbucks — They told me it’s the only one in the world without a sign in English.

Of course, I don’t have to settle for a cinnamon roll to go with my coffee — there’s a lot more choice down the street.

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Yummy street food — Fish cakes, anyone?

I hope you enjoyed this brief insight into all these things I’ve done on my travels. Aviation has truly changed my life in so many ways. How has it changed yours?

6 in the air

TOKYO — It’s great to have six airplanes in our flight test fleet. ZA006’s first flight today was just as spectacular as our other first flights and just as disciplined. And now, our flight test fleet is complete.

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Captains Christine Walsh and Bill Roberson fly away in our sixth 787 flight test airplane.

The crew got a maintenance message during flight and made the prudent decision to land at Boeing Field a little earlier than expected. The airplane will now go into a post-first-flight layup where we will inspect the airplane, address the maintenance message and install some flight test equipment.

The video below shows some of the key testing activities that we’ve completed in the last couple of months and it includes some of the more dramatic testing. Check out the crosswinds in Iceland - Capt. Randy Neville and the ZA002 crew sure know their business. And Capt. Mike Carriker and the ZA001 crew took the airplane through its paces in wet runway testing, braking tests, minimum takeoff speed testing and rejected takeoffs.

And while it’s not as visual, Capt. Heather Ross and the ZA004 team have been leading on flight loads survey testing in Victorville. She told us after she flew ZA004 on its first flight that she was looking forward to this testing because it is unique in a flight test regime. This testing gives us a thorough understanding of the aerodynamic loads on the airplane throughout operations - very important for the technical community.

ZA003 and its crew have been busy with noise testing in Montana among other activities. And ZA005 and crew have been focused on icing tests and will be heading out for some other extended remote testing in California soon.

Like the other flight test airplanes, ZA006 will head into a layup period following first flight - giving us the chance to perform post-flight inspection and install the unique equipment required for its first round of tests.

We’re watching this week as we approach 2,000 hours of testing, a real milestone. But even more important than hours, we’ve completed nearly 65 percent of our test conditions for 787s with Rolls-Royce engines.

School's in session

As I mentioned a little while back, I did my annual swing Down Under a couple weeks ago. It was a great but very busy trip. I visited Sydney and Brisbane, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, and over a 5-day period, I did about 15 or 20 different presentations. And talk about variety - we did presentations for media, banks, industry analysts, investors, and several customers - some I did over coffee, some over rubber-chicken lunch, and some in an auditorium before dozens of people.

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Australian media keeping up with my CMO spiel

But no doubt, my absolute favorite stop of the trip was my visit to Aviation High School near Brisbane. I spent about 90 minutes there one afternoon, speaking to about 60 of the students, as well as a group of 20 college aviation students from the Queensland University of Technology nearby.

I have to tell you, I was just blown away by these kids - by how bright they were, how engaged they were, and just by their enthusiasm for aviation. The students from this high school go on to a wide variety of careers in aviation, from mechanics to pilots to avionics engineers. We talked about the market, new aircraft (they love the 787), old aircraft, training simulators, education — this was a very mature bunch of high school students.

The 20 or so college students who came along were a little more concerned about the next step in their careers. They wanted to know if they were following the right path. And I said that it’s pretty clear that the decisions you make when you’re 21 or 22 don’t necessarily dictate where you’re going to be when you’re 30 , 40 or 51 (as in my case). But that said, you really cannot go wrong by starting in this business.

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Nothing is more energizing on a long trip than meeting with enthusiastic young people like these Aviation High students

I told them a story about some other students I met in Sydney a few years earlier. Those students also were worried about their future. It just so happens that very day I met with two of those students — they now work for Brisbane’s hometown airline, Virgin Blue.

I loved it when a young man in Grade 9 - about 14 or 15 years old, the same age as one of my sons - came up to me with his mom. He was a little shy, but his mom said he wanted to take a picture with me. Now, I’m no rock star, so that just shows how enthusiastic this young man is about aviation.

So I’d like to extend my thanks to the staff and students at Aviation High and at the university as well. Thanks, everybody, and school’s in session!

 

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